Deportivo 1, Barca 3, a.k.a. “I head a ball into the air….”

It's little. Like Messi.
It's little. Like Messi.

Yay for us, for winning at the Riazor for the first time since Wifred the Hairy ruled Catalunya.

Or something like that. And I was just about to say something impossibly stupid like “For me, this win is more exciting than the Clasic win because of what it represents.”

Then I remembered almost crapping my trou when Ibra’s glorious strike went in, and I reconsidered. But just so everyone will know that yes, I am prone to bouts of monstrous stupidity, the thought remains.

I’m going to start with the good, because there was lots and lots and lots of it.

Unleash the hounds! This is the first match this season, that we went at the other side like the pit bulls of last season. When we didn’t have the ball, we made Deportivo give it up. When we had it, we moved with intent, setting up shop in their end and driving their defense mad.

Pressure was what did it, constant pressure on the defense, their midfield, our constant movement that opened passing angles, incessant pressure that was rooted in aggression. Maybe they weren’t feeling all that manly, rocking the pink away kits or something. Whatever it was, even if it didn’t lead to excellent chances, it led to a decidedly un-Super Depor, who were playing on the back heel.

And we kept pressing. That the goal came from a bit of individual brilliance is really kind of surprising, given the team fury that was unleashed from the starting whistle, but that’s just how we roll sometimes. A blocked Xavi shot gave up a long rebound, that Alves sprinted in to capture for an instant re-set of the offense, and a little cut ball to Messi, who did the rest. He took the pass with his back to the defender, spun to create just a bit of space, faded and smoked a shot across his body that beat the most excellent Aranzubia, and gave us a 1-0 lead.

More importantly, it was reward for unalloyed excellence. Pressure and play such as what we laid on Depor, deserved a lead, and Messi’s strike from a stride is just so deceptive, because you don’t know if he’s going to continue running at you, so you track him with the ball, because you have to. And he starts a little dart that …. shit! It’s a shot! …. and just like that, you’re picking the ball out of the back of your net.

Xavi is back. I hope we were all watching our midfield maestro today, and the consummate control that he had in the face of a flooded, aggressive Depor midfield. No, he shouldn’t be playing defense, as the worst ball that he had all day was a clearance from the back, that went straight to a Depor attacker. But whatever malaise was affecting him appears to be gone, and that’s a beautiful thing, because he makes everyone on the pitch better. An on Xavi also contributes to our pressure, because his defense comes from his telepathic feeling for where the ball is going to be, and he just darts over there, bracketing the opposing player. The result is usually a turnover of some sort, whether from a panicked long ball that the defense intercepts, to a bad pass that we intercept directly.

We won a tough match with no Africans. Yes, Keita was a late substitution for Iniesta, but the meat of this match and all of the damage, was done without Keita or The Yaya. Does this augur well for an action-packed January in which we have immense match after immense match? Um, more on that later.

More Pedro!. When he came in for an ill-used Henry, I’m sure (I haven’t checked the LiveBlog yet) that there were cheers all ’round. That Guardiola was rewarded for his insertion almost immediately was pretty amazing. That reward also came as I was writing in my notes, “We continue to be a right-sided attack.”

Then of course, Pedro! squirted free, bursting past his defender and laid in a lovely little cross for the head of Messi, who banged it home. The real beauty of this goal is that Messi is learning that sometimes, an indirect threat is best. He hovered around the outside of the box, ghosting into a space created by the tracking of Ibrahimovic, and a ball-chasing Depor defense for his free header. Pedro! made an exceptional effort as well, giving us a glimpse of our happy wing future in the second halves of matches. No, I don’t think he’s a starter yet, and he might not ever be. But what a super sub.

Abidal is attacking. Whether he’s been watching his Maxwell videos, or practicing on his own, from his overlapping runs and give-and-gos with Henry, to the aggressive moves up the pitch, we suddenly have something of a low-rent Alves on the left side, but one who can get back to cover when he gets caught out. He went bursting up the pitch late in the second half, taking advantage of acres of space as the Depor defense said “Hell, they didn’t pass the ball to the left when Henry was out there, they sure as hell aren’t going to pass it when …. whoa!” His cross into the box was perfection, that found the foot of Ibrahimovic for a slick one-timer that leaves BANGS with 10 goals this season, and Maxwell with little consolation. Because if Abidal continues to do that, there really won’t be any reason at all to play Maxwell, except in Copa matches, or to give our French greyhound a rest.

Man, we’re good. This was the 5th-placed team in the table, one that could rightly be having European aspirations. And we owned em. You know how some matches are closer than the score indicates? Not this one. We were (mostly) quicker, faster, stronger and more precise, and we owned this match. Yes, there was the Busquets howler, but I knew we would score at least one more. Because Depor wasn’t stopping us, we were stopping ourselves.

And with every good, comes some bad.

Dammit, Busquets! He started the match out very well, with solid, controlled play. Then it’s almost as if he grows overconfident, as he begins just sticking a leg out, which invariably deflects the ball to an opposing player, or laying off crappy pass after crappy pass. And of course, he notches yet another assist for the wrong side, thanks to lazy play. Instead of moving his body back to stay in front of the long ball, he just leaned back and headed it. It fell directly to a Depor attacker, who headed past Valdes. Should Valdes have done better with that shot? I’m going to say yes, as he was caught leaning the wrong way a little bit. Still. Dammit, Busquets!

I cannot state how emphatically against the notion of Busquets as our starting DM I am. I know that he has his fans, and I like the way he plays, when he isn’t screwing up. The problem is that his screwups, because of the advanced position that he plays, are almost always extremely dangerous, or fatal. I know that Guardiola wants him to build in confidence for January, blah, blah, blah. But the Murderers’ Row that is that month’s matches fills me with trepidation, with Busquets in the middle.

We’re a right-sided attack. Most of the time, when Henry got the ball, good things happened. But consistently, he was standing out there by himself, waving his arms at a midfielder who chose to ignore him. If he’s going to be lambasted for being ineffective, at least give him a shot to fail on his own. There were a number of times that you could have paused the DVR, drawn a line down the center of the screen, and found the entire Depor defense on the right.

And anybody who is saying “Oh, you just love Henry,” should shut it. I don’t care who’s out there. We have to develop a left-sided attack with some teeth. We had it last season, and it made everything better. But that also means having a player out there who is a scoring threat.

Messi needs some one-on-one practice. That’s another match in which he had a keeper dead to rights, just before the end of the half, and fluffed his lines. It wasn’t that difficult a save that he forced Aranzubia to make, but more importantly, why not just bend the ball around him, go high, chip him or something other than shooting it directly at him. The presence of Henry and Ibrahimovic is going to result in one-on-one chances. The Deportes commentators also mentioned this, bringing up his one-on-one against Casillas this Sunday past.

And with that ….

Team: 9. Aside from a few lapses, this was an excellent overall group performance. Yes, there was some fine individual play, but it was effort made on behalf of the collective.

Guardiola: 9. The right substitutions at the right time, including knowing when Pedro! would be able to take advantage of a softened-up defense.

Valdes: 7. He should have stopped that shot. Yes, Busquets screwed up, but it wasn’t like the dude hit a rocket header or anything. I know many will consider me harsh, and I’m okay with that. He still should have stopped that shot.

Alves: 8. His excellent run of play is continuing, as he moves toward being the Alves that we all know and love so much. And does anyone realize that we haven’t seen any of his antics, with a fly landing on his shoulder and him going down as though he’d been shot, and rolling around?

Pique: 8. Mostly a monster game, though he should have spent less time throwing up his arm and more time stopping Bodipo on that late-match break. Yes, they were off side. Both of ’em. But that assistant had been screwing up the whole match.

Puyol: 7. Not as stalwart as Pique, and his scrambling about in fireman mode nearly cost us a couple of times. But the good thing was that he didn’t have to be as stalwart as he did against the EE.

Abidal: 9. He was absolutely spectacular today, from attacking with Henry to making sure that his side of the pitch was closed. The assist was just icing on a cake of excellence.

Busquets: 4. A strong start dissolved into a stinker. Bad passes, loose passes, passes without enough weight on them, and his assist. Dude. Come on.

Xavi: 9. Majestic, and always in the right place at the right time, with the right ball. He’s making forays into the box as well, another very good sign.

Iniesta: 6. He wasn’t himself today, disappearing for long stretches, and being generally hesitant in his play. This manifested itself in him holding the ball too long, or running at the defense for one stride too many.

Messi: 9. Wow, what a match. He almost had two headed goals, something pretty surprising from the shortest player on the pitch. He’s also passing more, though I am getting a little curious about the on-pitch relationship between Ibra and Messi. I’m sensing a reluctance to pass to the other on the part of both of ’em.

Henry: 5. Should have been more influential. Yes, he wasn’t getting service. So step up and yell at somebody. His efforts resulted in some of our best scoring chances.

Ibrahimovic: 6. He wasn’t much more influential than Henry, despite scoring a goal. He has to have more touches, since every time he touches the ball, the defense freaks out.


Pedro! (for Henry): 7. Some very good overall play, and his assist was a delight. But not a whole lot beyond that, though the offense also switched into caretaker mode after that second goal.

Keita (for Iniesta): incomplete. Not enough time to really do anything except run into the box and show why he isn’t a striker.

Next up for our lads is a crucial Champions League match against Dynamo Kyiv, in a cold, chance-of-snow Ukraine. Expect to see a midfield featuring Keita and The Yaya for this one in which we really don’t have to score, as long as we don’t concede more than two goals. After that, it’s World Club Cup time, then January looms, a month in which we play Sevilla three times. Though they are slumping these days, having recorded a 1-1 draw with Valladolid today.

–Finally, the 2010 socio cards are in the mail! Mine came today, and it’s very cool, with the Three Cups in the background. Sweet!

By Kxevin

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. Thanks for reminding us Depor is no slouch. We’re so good it looked like auto-pilot vs a segunda. Solid.

    I want me some Yaya. As uncomfortable as it is to watch the Busi-flubs from 1000’s of miles away…it must kill the Yaya to watch that junk in person. Bleh.

    Can’t wait for your trip report Kev.

  2. I just want to interrupt this discussion to notify the blog that I, FC Bojmir in the Fantasy League is now in outright first. “For the Love of Zlatan,” get on my level.

  3. Drama in EE front 🙂

    1. Ronalo dived and then missed penalty
    2. Benzema was inside the box before the shot had taken place
    3. Ronaldo refused to celebrate Benzema’s rebound goal
    4. Ronaldo kicked and got a red card

    90m doesn’t buy you class after all 😀

    1. It’s my thinking that the biggest problem with that club is going to be ego. The beauty of it all is that all we have to do is take care of our business.

      Though we will, I don’t see any reason for us to drop points in this season. If we can get through this upcoming insane stretch of matches with everyone healthy and playing well, sky’s the limit, because I think that they are going to drop points at roughly the same rate as we do.

      World Club Championship: I just don’t see either club beating us.

      Copa: The finals will come in the next round, against Sevilla. After that, we’re rolling. Valencia doesn’t have a shot at beating us without a fit, healthy Silva.

      Champions League: Again, we’re lucky in that some big clubs are down. United isn’t the club it was last season. Chelsea are playing very well right now, but I just don’t see anyone that scares me that much (assuming we get through to the next round which, the way that our defense is playing, is pretty much a lock.)

      Liga: Just win, baby. As long as we keep winning, the title is ours.

    2. I don’t understand why you think they aren’t passing to each other…They only passed to each other like 8 times in the box…Messi, of course, doesn’t pass to *anyone* when he has even the slightest option to keep it.

      But that’s just my take, of course.

    3. Gotta agree there. They BOTH had chances as a result of passes to each other that they BOTH should have converted (the Ibra backheel that left Messi one on one and the Messi throughball in which Ibra could not round the keeper by a centimeter).

      Off the top of my head:

      – Getafe game: Ibra to Messi
      – Super Copa: Ibra to Messi
      – Malaga: Messi to Ibra
      – Xerez: Messi to Ibra
      – Santander: Messi to Ibra

      Overall, considering all the injuries, NT games, and Ibra missing the preseason I would say its not bad for a chemistry that is really only beginning.

  4. overall a great game, although after they tied it seemed there was a long stretch where we were just sabotaging ourselves. but then El Mesias saved us of course. It seemed like this was a game where Messi wanted to show the world he deserved that gold ball. Should have had that 1 on 1, but I feel it was a very difficult shot.

    The build-up to the ibra goal was just plain beautiful, NO team in the world can do that.

    Finally, Busquets pissed me off so bad. Kxevin said it best, he’s fine when he’s good, but when he messes up, its horrible. If you’re playing on the best team in the world there’s not much room for that big of error. Man up Sergio.

    1. busi says sergio on the back of his shirt (formerly sergio B) because his parents have different last names and he doesnt want to disrespect either of them. but both their names start with B. yaya has his name that way because of his wife. other players also have weird versions of their names on their shirts. think “Haz. Guti.” or Xavi

  5. Mostly a fair appraisal of the match, though…

    -I think Ibra DEFINITELY deserves a bit higher rating.
    -I had the same kinds of feelings about Iniesta, but still I thought he did enough to show that we have “the swagger” of last year with only him there, regardless of how good Keita is.
    -I thought our left was pretty effective, definitely more than lately. Henry definitely needs to come into some form…badly. But for the first half hour-40 minutes, I thought he did what he’s supposed to do for the side. He should’ve sunk HIS one-on-one, surprised as he was or not.
    -Best match of the season for Messi?
    -Busquets pissed me off…he’s made that same damn mistake he’s made three times this season for a goal…but I do think he’s getting better–much better.

  6. Henry continues his crappy run. Said it before and will say it again: he does not deserve to start right now. Pedro has shown enough to be starting. Even if he doesn’t have the skill set of Henry, he plays with more exuberance and makes more runs and harries defenders better. End of.

    Busquets? Ugh. I can’t even muster the words to express my disgust.

    But you know what? We still won, and it’s still three points. Three points, three points, three points.

    I really hope there’s nothing going on behind the scenes between Leo and Ibra.

  7. Busquets assist???
    In that case the goal was by Valdes…

    You know, it’s not the harsh ratings he gets that bothers me, it’s that it ussually sparks a “oh no, busquets isn’t yaya so he is automatically the worst DM ever” attitude from some ignorant people that won’t bother to make up their own opinions, but would rather be spoon fed what to think about the players.

    Kxevin, After reading your articles for over a year, I know how to interpret your writing. When you write. If you say “busi had a bad game”, it just means he had a bad game. Unfortuneately, too many readers here interpret that as “busi sucks, we are screwed. Let’s hand Madrid the trophy already…”

    1. Hmm, I agree with your 2nd para, some people don’t really watch the match and just start crying out loud , I find that annoying too but you need to chill today Jason, you seem all worked up.

  8. I think it is totally not too harsh to demand Valdes to catch that damn ball.

    The ball wasn’t fast, it might came a bit all too suddenly, but you should be able to read that possibly incoming ball. The fact that the ball bounced so weakly means you have more time than you thought to make that “pickup”, not even a save. It is a pickup of the loose ball. the diving/falling is totally unnecessary to me.

    1. Exactly…
      Either everyone gets forgiven, or everyone gets called out…
      Either one is fine, but using one for some, and another for others isn’t

      that said, I think all of the ratings were harsh today. Not wrong, just strict. Except for VV’s, whom I feel, is getting let off the hook.

    2. I think busi suffered because of a poor 2nd half while valdes had 1 really piss poor play.

    3. Goalkeepers aren’t afforded that luxury. Comes with the territory.
      I still like Valdes, still want him as our #1. But, he sucked on that play, and deserves to be called out on it.

    4. And we haven’t? A lot of people have done so, including Kevin. We’ve all said he should have stopped that, or at least batted it away. He made a mistake, there’s NO denying that from anyone. Why are you acting as if he is being left without any blame whatsoever?

      The Busi thing is absolutely deserved. Without a doubt at all. He is a kid, and because of that he is very inconsistent. But he should at least be learning and improving. He is not. This header he has performed many times now. Once is “fine,” twice is “stop it” and the third is “fuck off.” In addition to that, he has done many other things to fuck up immensely. Passed the ball directly to an opposing player, he does this half a dozen times every game. Gotten too damn fancy. Against Xerez, he did a damn Zidane 360 for no reason at all and almost lost the ball. Nobody was near him, there was NO reason for it.

      Lastly, what position does Busi play? DM. DEFENSIVE midfielder. Defenders aren’t afforded that luxury. Comes with the territory.

    5. Good point, three times is too many… It is blatantly clear to me that we should give up on this 21 year old. We should sell him, no we can’t sell him. Who would want to buy such an absolutely worthless player.

      whatever. Champion’s League winner and STARTER for the BEST national team in the world right now. At 21. I say everyone can talk shit… He is too busy playing a key role for the teams that are favorites to win La Liga, CL, and the World Cup

      No, he is not better than Yaya, not by a long shot… But g’damm people, get some perspective

    6. Hyperbole and straw men.

      And who is saying that he is complete trash? For his performance in the final, he received plenty of praise. etc. etc.

      I’d say the only one overreacting here is you.

    7. hmm… straw men, and hyperbole, in that case i should respond the point you were trying to make, without exaggerating… (that doesn’t seem fun)

      1. “And we haven’t? A lot of people have done so, including Kevin. We’ve all said he should have stopped that, or at least batted it away. He made a mistake, there’s NO denying that from anyone. Why are you acting as if he is being left without any blame whatsoever?”

      I’m not arguing he is getting NO blame. I’m arguing that he is getting NOT ENOUGH blame for his error, considering how much Busi is getting for his.

      2. “The Busi thing is absolutely deserved. Without a doubt at all. He is a kid, and because of that he is very inconsistent. But he should at least be learning and improving. He is not. This header he has performed many times now. Once is “fine,” twice is “stop it” and the third is “fuck off.”

      Valdes is not a kid. and should be learning.
      Once – vs. Liverpool in CL, catches ball, and goes in net.
      twice – vs. Espanyol in Ligapasses the ball to De La Pena. Watches ball go into net.
      third – vs. Lyon in CL Watches Juninho shoot a SLOW shot from over 30 yards away. and then watches said shot go into top corner. (how does any keeper not expect Juninho to shoot at goal on a direct Fk?, let alone a veteran one)
      fourth – vs. Depor in Liga. Valdes rolls over playfully while a slow bouncing ball goes over him.

      so, by your standards, we would have told Valdes to “fuck off” a long time ago.

      By the way these are just a fraction of Valdes’s big errors in recent times. I bet if we went back to when he was 21, we could find every day.

      In addition to that, he has done many other things to fuck up immensely. Passed the ball directly to an opposing player, he does this half a dozen times every game. Gotten too damn fancy. Against Xerez, he did a damn Zidane 360 for no reason at all and almost lost the ball. Nobody was near him, there was NO reason for it.”

      All players make these mistakes. Watch the almighty Cesc play. He throws out hospital balls left and right. Yaya, against Xerez, got caught dribbling 4 times in the second half alone. he is probably a better Midfielder than 80% of the league, but when compared to Xavi, Iniesta, Yaya, of course he isn’t going to have their 90-100% pass completion.

      “I’d say the only one overreacting here is you.”
      I guess how strongly to react is a matter of opinion and personality. I personally think it is terrible how much flak some of us give our own player. One of our own. One who 18 other teams in La Liga would LOVE to have, but we have the luxury of crucifying for making some rookie mistakes.

      Every other player here gets a fairness committee and a pity party every time their greatness is in question, but the one time someone stands up for Busquets, its “overreacting”

      Again, this one comes down to opinion, so I won’t try to argue my logic over someone else’s. But i will say that as a Supporter of FC Barcelona, I tend not to take criticism to our players lightly. Especially undeserved criticism for not meeting the ridiculous and exaggerated expectations placed on him by the very people throwing him under the bus.

    8. “I’m arguing that he is getting NOT ENOUGH”

      What do you mean, exactly? He is mentioned almost as much as Busi in relation to the goal, and the only reason he is not mentioned more is because Busi has done this many times THIS SEASON as opposed to Valdes, who has made one single mistake this entire season. Otherwise he is playing like Casillas.

      “Valdes is not a kid. and should be learning”

      He’s 27, middle aged in terms of a keeper. And that was his first fumble of the season. Up until this point, he has been superb, which means he is given leeway and forgiven very easily. Just in the same way that Xavi is not lambasted every time he misplaces a pass.

      And going back into Valdes’ history to find mistakes is pretty weak. I pointed out Busi’s mistakes this single season. If we went back to Busi’s last season, I could write an encyclopedia. Not only that but Valdes had some decent performances in the past, among many true gems where he was absolutely brilliant. Why didn’t you point those out?

      Obviously during the career of a player, you will find blunders but this is not Busi’s career, this is only his season and he has enough to rival Puyi and Raul. In any case, I never said to sell him, and my “fuck off” was just for effect. If you go to the liveblog, although I made fun of him constantly, I wasn’t one of the few who asked for him to be subbed, either.

      “he is probably a better Midfielder than 80% of the league”

      Completely irrelevant. Crynaldo is one of the best players in the world and yet he does not fit with Barca’s system. Busi is pretty good, which is why few are seriously considering selling him, but he’s damn annoying, which is why there is such an uproar.

      “Every other player here gets a fairness committee”

      Nope, far from it. Henry is the only one who ever got one, with Messi’s FC almost popping up at the end of last season when people said he was worthless (against Chelsea, 1st leg, for example). And Henry was the only one who ever deserved it because he was actually doing a lot of great stuff and getting dissed for no reason at all. Busi is getting dissed for the things he IS doing, and getting credit for his good performances. (How many times must we mention the CL final)

      “exaggerated expectations placed on him by the very people throwing him under the bus”

      Yes, with Xavi and Messi on the team, like you said, there are great expectations. But we’re not asking Busi to turn into Messi, just to stop heading the ball like a nooblet.

  9. For everyone who is anti-Busquets:

    While Busi and Yaya play the same position, they bring different qualities to the position. Yaya is a mountain of strength and speed and athleticism, and his style is more as a typical defensive midfielder. Busquets is more creative, and is overall a less defensive player than Yaya, he plays more like a deep-lying playmaker. Now when you think about it, this is a great situation because having two different types of players in the position allows us to take two different tactical approaches. Against teams that pose a greater offensive threat, use Yaya. When the team needs a little extra help breaking down an opponent, use Busquets. This is obvious in their playing styles, Yaya regularly drops in between the two center backs when he plays, Busquets only rarely does this.

    But lets look at the games they’ve played. Yaya has started every Champions League game except against Inter, when he had swine flu. He has played six times as many minutes as Busquets in trophy games (Spanish Super Cup and European Super Cup. Yaya has only started four Liga games, although he did start the Valencia game, the second biggest Liga game so far. Busquets has gotten the majority of his minutes in Liga games and the Copa del Rey. Ok….. what can we take from this? Simple. Guardiola is choosing who plays based on the needs of the team, Yaya for the finals and in Europe, Busquets for the Liga teams that need to be broken down. Looks like good management to me.

    As for today, at one point I saw Busquets sprint thirty yards to get to a ball that was going out of bounds in our defensive third. When he got there he picked up the ball and dropped it on the field, delaying the restart and giving us time to recover. This sort of street smarts is something we need on the team. Yeah he’s been playing poorly, but he won’t get better without playing time, and we need him to get much better, fast.

    1. very well said vicsoc8
      don’t forget that DM is Pep’s position I have no doubt that he can manage choosing the best possible candidate for it, Busi had flops, yes, but Yaya also didn’t show the expected performance recently.
      one thing of what I’m certain, Pep is going to make of Busi the best DM for our system, and he has what it takes to be the next Guardiola.

    2. I don’t think too many people here are anti-Busi.
      I do think people can get over dramatic, impatient, and can sometimes have unrealistic expectations from our players, especially our youngsters.
      Ahem, they might forget that Busi is younger than P!, FF, and that sometimes tremendous talent without the experience is a liability.

      But that’s just me.

    3. When busi isn’t screwing the pooch I quite like him, as vic so eloquently put it he is a more creative option than Yaya. The issue (for me) is that we have leaked goals that can be directly attributed to him and I for one am just very nervous it’s going to cost us dearly.

      In the copa del rey, fine and against certain liga teams ok. Maybe its just me but I really rate Depor so seeing him at the starting gate made me a little nervy. He may assist in breaking down a stubborn squad but crossing into Ibra seems a better tactic to me and that means Alves flying up the right or Iniesta/Abidal flying along the left. In those scenarios we need someone to cover the space left and Yaya does that exceptionally well.

      Of course, I’m an armchair pundit and Pep won a friggin treble so I’m not gonna shoot anyone if Busi continues to get play but it makes me a little uncomfortable to see him starting matches I think are going to be difficult.

    4. “When the team needs a little extra help breaking down an opponent, use Busquets.”
      I disagree here, even offensively , Yaya has mroe to offer. Great long balls, those runs that are part mazing and part bulldozer, and those ridiculous long range shots, come to mind

  10. Agreed with Ibra’s rating. Am I the only one who thought he was trying to be too fancy with the ball?

    That stuff is fine when we’re firing on all cylinders, but if it isn’t working just focus on completing a quick pass.

    1. You can’t be amazing every game.
      And if your striker scores while having a quiet game, well, what more can you ask?
      Btw, Ibra’s finish was quite good. He made it look easy.
      A good player will let his technical ability do the work for him when needed.

    2. I agree with you. He’s doing the same thing Messi sometimes did/does. He tries to be extra tricky and clever when the situation doesn’t always call for it.

    1. La Sexta feed:

      1st half:


      2nd half:


  11. WOW. I think we have the best defense since…ever?? Think about this, of the 9 League goals and 2 Champions League goals allowed, it can easily be argued that AT LEAST half were miscues from non starters that gifted the opponent a goal. How many times has our D actually been beaten by a great attack resulting in a deserved goal? Hmm…

    1. in that case, nothing is valdes’s fault, because someone somewhere should have stopped them from shooting.

  12. I have to agree with Kxevin about Henry. It’s so strange to me how he seems to get stranded so often. He gets the ball and all of a sudden the only pass available to him is back to whoever gave him it in the first place. I think this has something to do with the Alves-Messi interplay, which gives Messi an extra option since Alves is always moving to offer himself to Messi for the pass. Henry doesn’t get that kind of service. It’s frustrating, because it makes our attacking down the left so much more limited. And I have no problem saying I DO love Henry, so bias accusations are welcome. His play is suffering because of the TEAM, not just because of himself.

    Messi does need to work on the one-on-ones, though I have to say, this isn’t a new problem. If you watch some of the games from last year, he regularly misses those shots. Usually he gets a lot of opportunities, but only scores on a few of those. I wonder if it is because he is always looking for the “beautiful” shot rather than the easy one…

    And jeez, Kxevin, don’t scare me with stuff about Messi and Ibra!! I’m not sure why, but I’ve been paranoid about locker room egos (ptsd from previous years?) and I’d like to think that’s not going to happen between those two. Because, ugh, I am enjoying them both so much this season! Pep better keep a lid on that nonsense.

    1. Agreed about Henry. But also, his touches seemed uncharacteristically heavy in the second half.

      Agreed about Messi. He puts near impossible ones in the net and he earns himself a bunch of easier chances missed. It’s actually not that uncommon for certain players to have that kind of record, I think.

      I’m no pro footballer but, I know sometimes for me being surrounded by defenders and having 1-2 seconds to act sometimes makes it easier to score. Some of my best scoring moments come when I wasn’t given time to think, and acted on instinct. But then come those 1 on 1’s where you’re given 5 seconds to think about it and it actually feels harder to score. I sympathize with missed sitters like Messi’s and Iniesta’s over the past week

    2. You know, that actually makes a lot of sense. Given those extra moments, perhaps it is easier to psych yourself out and thus miss the shot. Plus, when it is just one-on-one, the goalie is focused solely on you, the shooter, instead of getting blocked/distracted by the defense. While you are overthinking, the goalie is preparing.

      Or maybe I have no idea what I am talking about! I do sympathize with the recent missed sitters, especially because those are the ones that make a player feel the stupidest for missing, even if they are just as hard as the other shots.

      And I completely agree with you on Messi’s track record. His sitter-goals to extraordinary-goals ratio is pretty lopsided in favor of the extraordinary. I remember my sister asking me if he ever scored a boring goal. 🙂

    3. I noticed that after Messi scored the first goal he hardly celebrated. He seemed more relieved than anything. It’s only after he scored the second one that he seemed genuinely happy.

      Maybe Messi is putting too much pressure on himself to hit the ball perfectly and that’s why he’s missing the one-on-ones. He doesn’t seem to be having as much fun as before.

  13. On the Busquets thing:

    No one is saying give up on him. But the Busquets-backers have some additional points to explain:

    1. When you say he’s more valuable in breaking teams down, are you accounting for Yaya’s strong runs and his ability to drive the ball through the defense from the center of the park?

    2. When you say he needs time to improve, why isn’t that standard applied to Yaya? Yaya is out of form, and he struggled against Xerex by all accounts. So why isn’t HE given a big run of games to work out the chinks in HIS game?

    3. Against top five teams away, isn’t a defensive midfielder who is more defensive valuable? Since a team like Chelsea are also hard to break down, by your logic, if we play them in the CL, we should rest Yaya against them and play Busquets. How many goals would Chelsea score? 3? 4?

    4. It’s not that he makes mistakes that pisses people off since, as you point out, he’s young and will learn. It’s that he makes the SAME mistakes regularly: 1. stupid backward headers, 2. trying to get too fancy when there’s no need, and 3. giving the ball away with miscued passes. How many mistakes should Barca fans tolerate before we realize he is, at this stage of his career, a backup?

    1. To Start, why the term “Busqets-backers”? We are not pro- or anti- any players. We are Pro-Barcelona, and thus, pro- defending whichever player is under unfair attack.
      The term would only serve to alienate and divide. If you are not a “Busquets-backer”, does it make you a “Busquets-Detractor”?

      Second, I don’t think the questions are fair, because this isn’t a Yaya vs Busquets. debate. As a big Busquets fan, I say: Yaya wins. He is the best Defensive Mid in the world. Quote me :-). My point is that we are not picking Busi over Yaya, we just don’t think the crap he is getting is fair.

      Anyways, like i said, I don’t think the questions will give or take from the original debate, but i will try to answer to the best of my Barca/Busi loving heart.

      1. Because sometimes- especially against parked busses- Yaya’s skills aren’t the ones we need. Lets take the first round of Last Season. We played Numancia. They won 1-0.

      Yaya is a Defensive Midfielder. They didn’t bother attacking. Already his usefulness is limited. Add to that that they only played on the counter by throwing long diagonal balls up the pitch, they COMPLETELY bypassed having to attack down the middle. Because their defensive tactic of overcrowding the midfield congests traffic down the center, “Yaya’s strong runs and his ability to drive the ball through the defense from the center of the park” were not a viable option, because there was no room for it. There are strong words, but in this game, he could offer nothing, not defense, not offense. Its as if we only had 10 men.

      While Yaya is Strong, and experienced. Busi is Mobile, agile, and versatile. On defense he would be better suited to chase a counter, be it down the middle or a typical one down the flank. But like mentioned, they barely attacked. His usefulness would come in his ability to slot in the middle, with his better-than-yaya passing ability. You throw Henry in the middle with Eto’o, for more targets, and slide Iniesta wide. boom. Instant tactical leverage. (i actually would have Started Keita there over Yaya or Busi in hindsight)

      2. When have you ever seen Yaya get attacked like Busi does. And Yes, Yaya does need time and patience to get in form. But if a 26-year-old experienced Man-Mountain needs x amount of time, isn’t it logical to expect a 21-year-old hitting his sophomore slump to need more time and patience? just saying…

      3. Against top 5 teams, we start Yaya. If he is not available, I’d rather have Busi than whatever crap everyonther team has as a backup DM. Gago? M.Diarra? Lucas? Hargreaves? Obi-Mikel?

      Chelsea is a special case. Big Team? yes. But they park the bus.

      So, i would play neither. Thats right. No DM. I would play Keita behind Xaviniesta when they are attacking. When we get the ball to attack, we be patient. The second Chelsea start dicking around with 10 men in their half throw Keita, Ibra, and Henry in the box, Iniesta and alves on the wings crossing balls in, and Messi and Xavi outside the 18 distributing and shooting loose balls

      4. Kids make the same mistake constantly. Its how they learn. Hell, everyone makes the same mistake constantly. Messi over-dribbles. ronnie over-parties, crynaldo over-tans. Ibra tries passes that are too fancy. Iniesta tries to take on too many players, and Pep plays Xavi too many times.

      How much b4 we determine he is a sub? he is 21, of course he is a sub right now? you can’t determine his career yet. doing so is a mistake. Furgueson had enough of Pique. Ancelotti had enough of Gourcuff.

      Last season, at the beginning Pique was horrid. a complete disaster. I wanted him gone. So Pep gave him more and more minutes. Now he is one of the top 4-5 CBs on the Planet. I learned my lesson.

      I hope this helps. I can only speak for myself though…

  14. Most of it’s been covered, but can I just say that the Iniesta to Abidal to Ibra to the back of the net exchange was sublime? So smooth and effortless. And I could be wrong on who was involved leading up to it, but it’s been quite a few hours now. This was a nice one to watch. Wasn’t quite as enamored with the performance as Kxevin, but we were definitely good, and in one of the toughest of the 38 we’re going to play this year.

  15. Pep just needs to tell Busi that sometimes he tries too much with the ball and we end up conceding and that he should just keep it simple. Then everything is OK. The reason he does good against good teams is because he probably doesn’t dare doing something dumb with so many people watching that match unlike the ones against some lower teams.

    And Busi isn’t really more creative and The Yaya, but he doesn’t get to play there cause he’s much more disiplined, but I get what you mean…

    Oh and Messi will receive the Ballon D’or at 11:00 AM CET if anyone’s interested. I don’t if there will be any streams but I get to see it live on TV on channel TF1 so I don’t care if you get a stream or not mwahahaha! 😀

    1. I wont say one is more creative than the other, but as far as passing goes, Yaya is more accurate, but Busi has a better pass variety. He can, unlike yaya, thread a good Xavi-like thoughball. Although, Yaya can hit some great long range aerial chipped passes.

  16. – Busquets in this game was much, much, much better than Yaya in the previous game.

    I will not comment on each and every remark, lets go to the most important one, Here you have the Video evidence that prove Busquets “Crime”:


    -Stop it exactly at 2:11 five players against two. Now keep in mind the players positioning and who is marking the guy on our left flank.

    -Stop it 2:12 and try to double click the Play/pause so you break down the time from 2:12 to 2:13: Saying that Busquets played as assist is out of any contest. This is his share of responsibility in the goal conceded. The body contact unbalanced Busquets, but as we say in football “one step makes the whole difference” He was one step deeper so he couldn’t do anything better (and that’s his fault). The ball went toward our defense because of the mix (Surprising long pass and Physical challenge). He wasn’t in the best situation and still badly interrupted the ball.

    -Stop it 2:14. Where is the guy who was in 2:11 on our left flank? He is receiving the ball inside the box after putting Abidal in his closet. Where is the cover from Puyol and Pique? They were caught by surprise and failed to reposition as fast as needed. So in a fast counter like this where everyone was caught by surprise, who carry most of the responsibility, the guy who had to do the first interception or the four guys who had more time to cover? Then add Valdes to the mix.

    * Regarding Ibra and Messi, who says they are not passing to each other? Actually there problem in this game was exactly the opposite. So many times Messi was running in the space with the ball with only one man to beat to get into the box, but he was more thinking about passing to Ibra than doing the easier thing. He delayed the ball and depor figured that out, and contained Ibra more. And we ended up wasting the chance. Ibra was always seeking the fancy passing stuff as well. I think exchanging passes is getting more predictable than we need. More individualism in the box is a must.

    * I dont buy the “Lack of service” thing when it come to henry. This is not something new. It was said last season as well. He was bad in this game. As simple as that. He lost balls for fun (much more than busquets by the way who wasnt as disastrous as people are guessing), he was outrun, out played and inefficient. When Pedro came in we were no more a right sided team. Watch that segment of the game again. Pedro played on the right, Iniesta-who didnt have his best games as well- on the left, and Messi played as a second striker. We stretched them wide and there were more spaces in the middle even for a midget like Messi to head the ball twice toward the goal and score once. The second goal was from a cross from the right flank and the third was a cross from the left flank where finally we were able to create spaces and attack through.

    1. Haha, Ramzi. You stole my words. Well, you said it a lot better and more detailed than I could have done, but after reading the preview I was immediately thinking “Damn, Busquets wasn’t that bad at all and it was not only his fault that we conceded. Time to defend this guy”.
      Then I read through the comments, everything is fine until the third-last comment… where you have said it perfectly 😉

      And about Ibra-Messi passing relation… I’m not the master of statistics, but I could imagine that they played so far more one-twos than Messi did with Eto’o last season.

      I was a bit shaky after Depor equalized because it was simply NOT fair! We pwned them completely in the first half, it was one of our best performances so far on a very tough ground (statistically seen, the lawn itself was in acceptable condition). And then we go into half-time with a draw? wtf…
      I just thought it would be so damn unjust if we didn’t win, also taking Real Madrid’s penalty luck or general ability of winning rather bad matches into account.
      Luckily, Messi saved the day and he is my Man of the Match this time. I’m also a big Xavi fan and I even once suggested to make a vote on this site between Xavi, Iniesta and Messi who should have won the Ballon d’Or (my vote still goes for Xavi) – but yesterday, Messi was simply the best!

    2. The situation becomes clearer from watching the replay that comes after, the close up of busquets obscures things.

      It’s a stretch to put significant blame the defenders here. The Depor scorer was aided by a great lob from Busi if you’re trying to get him to score. If this was the Depor player that headed it there we’d be saying how perfect the placement was, the rest of the defense had little to no chance after that.

      BTW, time from ball touching Busi’s head to touching goalscorer’s head: ~1.5 seconds

    3. “If this was the Depor player that headed it there we’d be saying how perfect the placement was”

      Wrong. We would be saying what the hell the defenders are doing? One player succeeded to cut through them as a knife in a butter.

      The ~1.5 seconds were exactly the time the depor player needed to cut inside from the flank denying Abidal and geting advantage of the lack of defensive cover. This goal is a mix of quality counter and a collaborative lack of focus starts from Busquets to the FOUR defender back to Valdes. Period.

      It seems this will be a long season for Busquets. He is this year Scap-goat. Welcome to FC Barcelona culture.

    1. Yes it worked almost 10 minutes before the game started.
      I promise not to tease you again regarding the stream thing. Just don’t throw your spell on my receiver again. P..pp..peace!

  17. I’m genuinely impressed. A reference to the great Guifré el Pilós (Wilfred the Hairy) in a football blog? Wow. 😉

  18. OK WHOS WATCHING MESSI GET THE BALLON D’Or? He just arrived (on time, unlike last year’s winner)! He so shy! The barca hymn was playing when he entered! Wow, its so well done

    1. Gah! I’m so jealous. I’m just a poor student, so I don’t get that channel. Hope the presentation goes well!

      I’m still a bit upset that CR is second…

  19. Great point Ramzi. We can have a left-sided attack without Henry as well. The reason we appear often a right sided attack is the presence of Messi and Alves, which is way more effective than Abidal and Henry.

    1. The advantage that Henry adds when he is in his form is not balancing the two flanks in a way that makes them activated in parallel (It never happened). His advantage is his finishing quality when he cut inside the box, and his defensive contribution that he developed immensely -especially last season. As for his contribution on the left flank, he was never expected to open highways by hugging the line and stretching the field (That was one of the reasons why he didn’t click during his first season). With pep his role fit him perfectly. he is a nightmare for the opponent defense who always need to keep in mind that “Watch out, you never know when Henry strike”. That requires not only a dedicated right back to mark him, but also a diagonal cover behind, just in case. In that manner he is able to balance the two flanks where the right flank is more the play making department, and the left flank is more the finishing department.

      If he doesn’t bounce back to his normal form, we are in trouble. Iniesta, for all his good, is not the right Left wing for all kind of games (though I believe he is better than henry for some and it goes the other way in some other games), Pedro is performing great so far, but I think its mainly because he still don’t feel the huge responsibility of being the game decider as a key starter. Its too early to put this heavy bag on Giovani di Santos shoulders. I mean Pedro…

      My perfect scenario is an inform Henry for one more season as a flanked forward. During this year, Pedro and co can earn more experience for next season. Then next season Henry becomes a quality depth rotating with Ibra sometimes and with Pedro some other times.

  20. There, theyve given messi the trophy and they bombarded him with questions. Laporta’s there as well. Did you know that messi owns all the computers in old school? Apparently everytime he goes back he donates some crazy number of money to them! Ok the break is over g2g

    1. Where did you watch it? Was Messi already officially handed the Ballon d’Or?
      I’ve read somewhere that the presentation is in Paris, on December, 6.

    2. On TV. Since I live in Geneva, we get a few french channels. There’s a show called ‘Teléfoot’ which comes every Sunday at 11:00 PM CET. Its got loads of official stuff. Arsene wenger comes VERY often and he comments on every thing. Eto’o, drogba, benzema, riberh, abidal are all regular visitors. All the ballon d’or are officially handed to the players there. Kaka came, crynaldo wad also there last time (he was like 20 mins late) and now finally messi 😀 !!!!

    3. Wow, that sounds like a great football show 🙂

      I would LOVE to watch the analysises of Wenger. I don’t speak French particularly well, but I at least learned it for some years during school, so I would understand a bit. But I didn’t find a stream for TF1 yet.

    4. Hmmm, I can sub the videos, if only I could find some…I think I have an idea and I can do something cause I have quite some free time, give me your email id anyway.

  21. Did you guys know that every year before the official ballon d’or list is released the president of the FFF (Federation de Football Francais) goes himself (with a cameraman and a translator) to personally tell the player that he had won it? Pretty crazy…and they film it too. From the moment they ring the bell till when the players understand (cause the president just speaks french). In this case Messi’s smile when he understood made me sooooo happy! 😀

    There’s lots of people who recorded themselves and send the video to telefoot. The people were mostly:
    -New boys coach (messi’s 1st coach?)
    -messi’s bro,father,mother
    -arsene wenger
    -abidal (lol he asked messi if he wanted to share it with him haha)
    -ribery (congratulated him but also said that he still remembers how they beat bayern 4-0 last year and that he’s waiting for rematch)
    -lisandro lopez
    Jose pekman (is that how you write it? argentina’s earlier coach. Im surprised maradona didn’t leave a message)
    There more but i dont remember. They mostly just congratulated him. Oh now I remeber some more, there were also
    -diego milito

    There was that french left/right back legendary player who was there himself, dont remember his name…he thanked laporta for how he’s build the club, the triangles,la masia, their offensive style, the magic! Great guy!
    The commentator also said that messi doesn’t know how much pleasure commentators have on commenting him etc etc
    Of course messi didn’t say much….he was too shy….I think he got a standing ovation like 6 times by the people who were there live!

    Thats about it. There was some general blabla about the world cup draw and Henry’s hand but that isn’t too interesting. If I remember something else I’ll post it….sighhh got to go study for exams now 🙁 🙁

    1. Well hopefully someone will upload it on YouTube (with subtitles). So no one checked for streams?

    2. Thanks a lot for the summary.

      Jose Pekerman… he was the coach of Argentina U**, the team that has won many tropies. So he’s something like the Pep Guardiola for Messi, but on international level. Guess that’s why he commented on Messi’s success. But unfortunately, Pekerman has been replaced by Maradumba. I really wish that Pekerman returns for the WC!
      Argentina played some amazing football uner him during WC ’06.

      Carles Rexach! It’s thanks to him that messi’s here! When messi came to barcelona, the club arranged for a match to see how good is messi. so rexach was amazed but no offer came to messi by the club. so messi and his family were going to return to Argentina. when rexach heard about this he immediately arranged a lunch with messi and told him that he wanted him to stay.He wanted to write it down on paper with his signature to do it more formally but there wasnt any paper in a restaurant so he wrote it down on a tissue paper. And signed it. THATS how Messi stayed. he’s still got that piece of tissue….what followed we all know….

      Oh and this what the players “really” said:

      Eric Abidal: “Leo, I wanted to know if you could share half your Ballon d’Or with me because with your qualities and mine, we can divide things up a bit (laughs). I congratulate you, you’re really a crack. ”

      Ludovic Giuly: “I wanted to congratulate you because you’re a great player and you deserve. ”

      Franck Ribéry: “You gave me so entertained all season but still I have not forgotten the 4-0 that you put us in Barcelona. Continue to make us happy and very soon. ”

      Javier Zanetti: “Like Argentina, you represent us the best ways around the world and everything that happens to you, you deserve it. ”

      Diego Milito: “I hope you’ll enjoy with your family. You know how much I appreciate you. Congratulations, I kiss you hard. ”

      Gabriel Heinze: “I congratulate you from my heart. Enjoy this award with your friends and family. For all of us, you are the best in the world, I embrace you. ”

      Lisandro Lopez: “I hope to continue to play long with a player like you, I embrace you. ”

      Samuel Eto’o: “I love you greatly and I am more than happy to see you with the Ballon d’Or. It’s as if I had won myself. “

  22. PM already commented on this, but Ronaldo is a huge chump.

    First, he dove to win a penalty (I now know how Chelsea felt when Ronaldo used to win games 1-0 for United by diving in the box).

    Second, PM is right, Benzema is WAY into the box when Ronaldo shoots.

    Thirdly, he didn’t just kick out, he kicked out really hard. To me, that’s deserving of a straight red.

  23. A few things:

    –Excellent debate here, folks. I enjoyed reading all of it. Keep it up.

    –For those who are new to my ratings/reviews, it’s a match assessment. Not a long-term evaluation, etc, etc. Any trends that I spot will be pointed out, however. Like the Messi/Ibra thing. I think in specific of one run that Messi made, directly toward the entire Depor defense. Ibra was running alongside Messi, and you could almost see him dash into the box then think “Wait, he isn’t going to pass me this ball. No way.” And he just ran into an offside position and got out of the way. This has happened before.

    Whether it’s Messi and Ibra learning to play together, or something different, I don’t know. But Messi definitely plays different with Ibrahimovic. I don’t know enough to lay it at the feet of an ego clash.

    –It will take Henry leaving for people to appreciate him. Full stop. The same people who defend Busquets, or say “He’s different than The Yaya, etc, etc,” with the same breath, slag a guy who, yesterday, made good play after good play. He even switched over to the right and center in an effort to integrate into the offense, and he still didn’t get passes thrown his way.

    It’s why I say, let him fail on his own. As with any player, he needs touches. He’s the only player who, in light of a re-watching of the match, my rating strikes me as harsh. But that’s 20/20 hindsight.

    –Valdes should have stopped that shot. Everything else that he was supposed to do, he did perfectly. If he’s as sharp as he was during the Clasic, he does stop that shot. Which in no way removes any culpability from Busquets. Keepers are like field goal kickers. They don’t do anything the entire match and then, “You! Wake up and win the thing for us!” It’s the job that they sign up for, but I don’t know if fans understand how hard it is.

    –We have a right-oriented attack. If you watch Xavi and Iniesta, as two examples, they face right, they look right. Much of it is because the second-best player in the world is running around over there (yes, I said it. Xavi’s the best player in the world.), with Cross Master Alves. But it’s that left-sided width that makes the right side so effective. Look at all the room that Abidal had after taking that pass from Iniesta. But even Ibrahimovic shades right, because he understands our orientation.

    –Busquets isn’t this season’s scape goat. Sorry. It’s Henry. And it’s a trend that I don’t see changing. People defend Busquets as “Well, his header was bad, but the defense should have stopped the attacker.” I just don’t buy it. They’re running alongside a guy who gets set free in the box by a perfectly placed pass to his head. If a Depor player makes that pass, everyone says “Nice pass.”

    The way that the run is breaking, the only options that the defenders have at that point are foul him, or figure on the keeper making the save. Players make those kinds of exploratory runs all the time, and they are supposed to be harmless, because your defensive-minded midfielder isn’t supposed to head the ball right to them. He’s supposed to control the ball, or head it the other way.

    –Busquets and The Yaya are very different. The Yaya seems to know that when you head a ball, weird crap can happen. If you watch him play, he will almost invariably find some way to play the ball with his feet. Ramzi’s observation that Busquets in this match was much better than The Yaya in the last match is spot on. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t think that he started great, then played his way into the crap. He was much more consistent against EE, but he still got stupid.

  24. In an ideal world, I would like to experiment with The Yaya and Busquets in the lineup. This gives Busquets that safety valve thing that Xavi likes so much, and it moves him up the pitch to reduce the danger effect of his inevitable errors.

    Busquets works much better with a more traditional DM out there.

    By the by, another trend exposed in this match, but one not really worth mentioning in the review because we’re already discussed it, is the pace (or lack thereof) of our central defenders. Bodipo ran by them like they were parked. It’s why they’re much better keeping the play in front of them. Abidal has the pace to hold stuff down, and Alves almost has it.

    In another by the by, only one person mentions Abidal in the comments? Are we all not aware of what a monster match he had? I flirted with giving him a 10, but he had some “wandering Eric” moments.

    1. It is a little difficult for average viewers ‘just’ watching the game to really pick on how good our defensive players are. Like keita, they are doing their best work when they are aren’t being noticed. The exception being El Capitan in the Classico.

    2. That’s true, Maximus. Even though I watch a match at least twice before writing a review, there’s stuff that you just don’t catch.

      A casual view would say that Pique was our best defender yesterday, because of the stops that he made. But much of Abidal’s work was just under the radar, as he terrorized his side of the pitch.

      Keita is a wonder. The chance to see him live really opened my eyes to him, even more than they already were.

      It’s why my default setting is “in Pep we trust.” He knows far, far more than any of us do, and if he’s playing someone, it’s for a very good reason. I can natter about it in this space, but ultimately, I’m an ignoramus compared to him.

    3. OH DAMN I am the only guy to heap praise on Abidal! *lucky! (or not!) He is a monster to play against! give him a 11!

  25. I kind of Consider the expression s ”People say—some people…people..etc…” responds to my comment. You raised some good points here, but let me point out the following:
    – Regarding Henry, I don’t think appreciating him means protecting him all the time. Your discretion about him running on the left, running in the middle running on the right playing pass after pass after pass is too far from the game I watched where at least in the second half he performed one of his worst performances while wearing Barcelona Shirt. And because it is that distinct, lets leave this one there. In one of my comments in this same page, I explained where Henry is important for the club. Regardless of the fact that I am the first who labeled Henry as our new Larsson for the following two years. And that was during last season. So I am not going to get into this emotional “lack of appreciation”–“Hate/love” sentiments. And I will not take the insulting idea –toward the coach and the group- that the players just don’t play the ball to him seriously. The players want to win and they do the best things on the field that feels –at the moment- the right thing to win. I played football, and I was a midfielder, when a player is not in his best day and keep losing ball after another then playing more balls for him tends to be as torturing him and leading the team to suicidal. When he is in his form he gets lot of balls (He shined last season because he received these balls, not because he was running), and when he bounce back to form and start taking right positions and get involved more without losing as many balls, he will click again with the rest of the dancers. That’s football, or else it’s a hippies party where everyone hugs everyone.
    – “Busquets isn’t this season’s scape goat. Sorry. It’s Henry.” I thought about that a bit before mentioning it in the previous comment. Henry was criticized a lot no doubt. But lets not forget that he was labeled as the team savior for few weeks. He got his share of praise and critique. It never happened this season that one player was accused of being the reason for all the troubles as Busquets. Most of the time, for no reason other than the annual trend.
    – Regarding the goal conceded:
    Judgments are not subjective in an intentional manner. But most of the fans have their tendencies that makes it more tempting to hail a player or attack another. If Yaya would have been in Busquets position and Marquez in Puyol position then whom do you think will be responsible of the goal? Right. Watch this one:


    Key moments (0:03- 0.05-0.06-0.08 where again the offense succeeded to outrun both yaya and abidal in a diagonal move, which is forbiden in football)

    It was almost an identical mess. Yaya make a bad timing tackle/Busquets header/ and because Abidal was positioned in an advanced position and because he took it for granted that Yaya will clear the ball he didn’t do the transition/Again as it happened last night/ Kazan Player (A) ran in the space with a 2X2 situation against Marquez and Pique. Marquez created the cover for Pique who was marking Player (B) hoping abidal transition help. It didn’t happen and we get conceded. Who was responsible for the goal? Everyone said its Yaya, because as it goes for busquets, if he did his job well, we wouldn’t have conceded. Wrong, that’s not what happened. Abidal? No. The one who is the most tempting to criticize: Marquez.
    When a player start running beside Abidal and outrun him and the whole defense then it’s the defense problem. Period. The defense do not take anything for granted. NOTHING! You have a player in your defensive third, Put him in the damn cage. If the defense did no mistake here because its Busquets who did the whole mess, then how come in the same sentence we say Valdes is responsible? Seriously. He got conceded because of busquets. And later if Ibra lose the ball in the opponent box and the defender ran all the way from his box to our net and scored, its Ibra fault, alone.

    There is no perfect player and cursed player in this team. Even if I was from the first fans who defended Abidal signing and performance afterward I still can admit that his weakness is his anticipation. Even if I appreciate what Henry does it doesn’t mean that I have to say that he does everything from dribbling a whole team to assisting a guy living in another city to run across two countries playing two games at the same time. He is good in things and bad in other things. And it goes the same the other way, Busquets, Yaya, Iniesta, /everyone/ had their good and bad. Regardless of who’s face inspire chemistry and who is just unlikeable. And regardless of who is the best for any position on the field, it doesn’t mean that we need to crush any other option just to show that the one we like is the one and only unique player who worth starting (and this one is not exclusively for Kevin).

    1. “And regardless of who is the best for any position on the field, it doesn’t mean that we need to crush any other option just to show that the one we like is the one and only unique player who worth starting (and this one is not exclusively for Kevin).”

      Truer words have never been spoken. And yet we do. All the time. Even when we shouldn’t. More on that later.

      –No, the “some people” identifier was precisely that. You, Ramzi, aren’t the only one saying that Busquets is thus, so deserves some slack, not everything is his fault, etc, etc. But this has already been acknowledged. The goal wasn’t solely his fault. The loose, sloppy passes and overconfident play are, and every goal usually begins with one significant error.

      –Note that Henry received a 5 from me. That isn’t a good rating. He’s been much, much better in the colors. He’s also been much, much worse.

      –People will see things as they wish to see them, based on how they feel about a player involved. The contention that the defense screwed up and the goal wasn’t entirely Busquets fault is fine. It’s also accurate. Goals scored and conceded are usually a team effort, after all. But it’s also the initial error that puts the defense in a “wrong” position. Sometimes, it’s possible to recover. Sometimes, the keeper bails a defense out. Sometimes, it’s just an unfortunate goal. It happens.

      But culpability for the initial error, in my “garbage in, garbage out” theory, should never be denied. Busquets screwed up. Big time. He started out playing very well, with sharp, consise passes and an overall match presence that was impressive. Then he goes south. He’s never been bad for an entire match that I can recall.

      –As far as Henry not getting the ball from his teammates, just watch, is all I can say. If an attacking player with a proven pedigree is open, wide open, waving his arms, and you don’t pass him the ball…. Not sure what to say about that one. It happened time and again yesterday. Could the person with the ball have thought that Henry wasn’t in a position to help the offense? Maybe. But it’s hard to see how not passing him the ball to create a defensive shift wouldn’t benefit the club.

      –Finally, we debate players, their performances, and the club here. If anyone attempts to “crush any other option just to show that the one we like is the one,” I will call bullshit on it. I can’t control how people interpret comments, but rest assured that I read comments very carefully with that precise thing in mind.

      Nobody has a monopoly on knowledge, whether you just started watching the club, have been for years, coach the game, play the game or sit up all night dissecting matches on your PlayStation. Nobody. Ramzi says the defense screwed up in allowing the goal. I say that Busquets put them in an impossible position. That’s opinion, pure and simple. Both can and should be able to co-exist.

    2. That’s a different kind of mistake by Yaya, pretty far from being an “identical” situation imo

    3. I can take that in a way that every mistake in the history of the world is unique in its own way. But its still a mistake that caused us a goal because our Defenders failed to do what they have to: Covering our back. Instead they took things for granted, something they are not allowed to do.

      So the point was not Yaya mistake, but more the way to hook responsibilities. The scenarios were identical, the conclusions differed based on the players involved.

      But to compare Yaya situation to that’s of Busquets in these two goals, Yaya was in a better situation to take the right decision out of many options. He didn’t. That wasn’t even a possibility for Busquets here. Not that Busquets doesn’t carry a responsibility for this one, but he has to be fairly judged on the same scale as everyone else. Picking things against him just for the sake of it is not valid.

  26. messi best in the world ok no xavi-iniesta there, but there is NO FREAKIN’ WAY crynaldo is 2nd!!! And Henry got 9 points, he was 15th in the “ballon d’or”, before yaya… omg

    1. But if the Ballon d’Or voting is based on the past season, it’s difficult to argue with Henry’s position in the final count. You could even argue that his goal tally and the import of those goals in a side that made history deserved an even higher position, right?

    1. How many banners did you stuff in Kxevin? I put in about 6 or 7. Not great ones but what the hell!

  27. Note to all:

    I edited a post that made a reference to Thong Boy in a way that made gay a derogatory comment. That doesn’t fly here. Not with me, Isaiah or Hector.

    Race, religion, sexual orientation and gender are all put aside as we come together to wallow in the joy that is Barca. It’s all about respect, for everyone.

    ‘Nuff said.

    1. hmm I’d suggest editing those that compare him to small children, cry babies, little girls and fairies as well! Insulting any of those by putting them in the same bracket as CR is also very derogatory and should not be accepted, lol.

      Seriously though, I agree and much respect it’s amazing how on topic and non-hostile the discussions are on here.

    2. Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation & Gender seem to be all question marks about Thong Boy. 🙂

      The only fair things that are fair to pick apart about people are connections to the EE and diving.
      I’ll always hate diving, including when Alves, Busquets & Iniesta do it.

      Busquets has certainly not be great this season, I don’t think at any stage he has put in a man of the match performance in what, in my opinion, is the most important role on the pitch.
      That isn’t to say that he won’t prove himself to be a great player.
      If anyone re-watches or recalls the CL final against Man Utd, he was one of our best players, consistently winning the ball back quickly and always picking the right/simple pass,

      My problem with Busquets is that he hasn’t learned from that match. Playing the simple pass, like 80% of Xavi’s passes, is what we build our temple on.

      Yaya usually takes the ball from one centre back, turns and plays it to the other and moves.

      At left wing, Henry is more dangerous when he is being left alone, one on one with the right back. It is his last season here, by all accounts, and we should be enjoying what he brings

    3. All true, Ciaran. I think that sometimes the distinction between performance criticism as regards one match, and overall criticism, is lost.

      Guardiola likes Busquets. And ultimately, that’s what matters. And when Busquets is cognizant of his role, he’s excellent. I’m just not sure what makes him start trying to gild the lily, so to speak. He’s definitely our DM of the future, or whatever position you ascribe to him. So we will have much time to discuss him, and I look forward to his development.

      –In other news, Arsenal wants Krkic? Our Cuddly Toy is, of course, against any loan or trnsfer deal. And I wouldn’t call him a makeweight, but I could see him sweetening a Fabregas deal.

      –And soeaking of, buzz is growing that despite what he says, he’s gone in the summer, to the first club willing to meet Wenger’s inflated valuation. I reckon Flo Flo is already lining up the loan deals.

  28. Good debate. I’ve said my piece on Abidal’s poor positional sense before so I’ll limit it this time to – yet again he is found wanting positionally and costs us a goal. He let his man run right across the front of him and it was his man that scored. End of. Is he our best LB? Yes, probably, but lets call him when he gets it wrong rather than blaming just the others involved.

    Henry i think needs a little TLC. No he’s not on top form just now and there are worrying signs he has lost that extra bit of pace so the sprint to the line may be a thing of the past but he is still a very clever player and a great finisher. I agree also that he carries some threat on the left which can only get better as Iniesta gets back into the groove in midfield.

    Finally, I agree about Xavi but its no coincidence that he shines now that he has Iniesta back beside him. Still our best lineup.

  29. Alright, after rewatching the game:

    – regarding my Remark that Depor goal may be offside (player coming from the offside), It was almost an offside, but Alves was the one who was covering there. Thanks three-lungs man.

    – Regarding the goal conceeded, the responsibilities for me goes like this (After watching the goal till I got dizzy and focusing on the movement of a single player at a time) :

    1) Abidal-Puyol
    2) Busquets-Valdes
    3) Alves, for initially damaging the offside trap
    4) Pique, I dont know why. I just thought its good to put him here anyway.

    But I agree to disagree with all of you.

    And it was interesting that Valdes Changed his kit between the two halves. He wore the lucky one.

    Valencia – Bilbao now. Lot of reason to watch it. And there I go.

  30. Video of Messi receiving the Balldon D’Or on Telefoot

    1. Hopefully 😛

      But you know Spanish daily’s,they need pages to fill. I’d give it about a week and they’ll be saying how Yaya’s unhappy because Pep’s not playing him in the most important stretch of the New Year.

    2. Damn it really sucks when players have scoundrels for agents. I hope YAYA puts him in his place, as well.

  31. Here’s another video about Messi and his Ballon d’Or, with a top 10 goals list at the end.


    1. mwahaha I watched it LIVE! 😀
      sorry but for once in this blog have i got a channel which no one else has…gotta make a profit ya know…

    2. Thanks

      Whoever came up with that list clearly loves chipped goals

      Also, these lists shouldn’t be taken seriously but, wth is #4 doing in that list?

  32. I might as well jump into the deep end of the pool with Kevin and Ramzi.
    Regarding Henry, think we can agree that he simply has not had a good first half of the season. There are many reasons for this including, injuries, NT games, age, and even having his morale affected by the Le Hand of Titi incident. To me, he has not had enough time to get into a rhythm or flow with the team. Remember that during his first two seasons at Barca he played two whole years with mainly Samu, Messi, and Bojan as his front line partners (Iniesta and Henry rarely shared time in the same front line, it’s usually one or the other up front). Now, Samu is gone and Bojan has been seemingly been demoted in favor of Pedro as first forward off the bench. So now Henry has to adapt to playing with Ibra and Pedro and sometimes share the front line with Iniesta. His injuries have delayed this process.

    I think Ramzi perfectly explained Henry’s effectiveness last season. He played more like a striker who cut in than a winger who spreads the field. He is at his best either being released into space or slashing into the box off the ball. Notice how many of his goals last season where either first touches or balls played into space. He is still good for the occasional solo stunner (see the second Atletico game for example) but is at his best when he cuts into space and receives service. He is not at his best with the ball at his feet for relatively long periods of time.

    In the last few games, he has done a good job on part of his job description which is to provide width. He did get balls thrown his way into the wing but did not do a good job of attacking one on ones. His first touch seems strangely off whack but you have to believe he will correct that as his game shape improves. It reminded me a bit of 2007 in that sense. His defensive duties are still being fulfilled admirably. However, his off the ball movement, his strength last season, has been sorely lacking IMO. Part of it is concentration (see all the offsides he has drawn lately) but a bigger part of it, again IMO, is that he and Zlatan have not developed sufficient chemistry yet partly due to their respective injuries and NT commitments. I think we have played Henry-Ibra-Messi less than five times this season if not less. Ibra likes to drift left whereas Samu preferred to go right. Count how many goals Samu scored making diagonal cuts from the middle to the right last season. It may sound stupid but that makes a big difference for Henry. Ibra is also more static than Samu and is only now discovering the joys of constant lateral cuts to unmark himself instead of constantly playing to break an offsides trap. Last season, Samu’s cuts would open vacuums of space for Henry to cut into. Now, Henry runs into Zlatan and his defenders.

    In contrast to Kevin’s worry 😀 , I think Ibra and Messi are doing a magnificent job of developing chemistry considering how long they’ve played together (of course, not at the Alves/Messi level, that was love at first sight for those two :D) . Now, Ibra and Henry have to work harder to develop chemistry and understand their movements. They both speak English so there is no language barrier excuse for any of the two. I simply don’t buy the “Henry never gets any help” argument. The reason he is frequently isolated on the wing is that Abidal usually stays back to help provide cover but this season we have seen a much offensively improved Abidal who HAS provided Titi with more support. Even then, Henry is not a winger, he opens up the field to provide width not to take on defenders in every play. His damage is done when he cuts into the box or drifts in from left to right or breaks an offside trap from the wing. Xavi and Iniesta are equal opportunity playmakers, if you are open then they will try to get you the ball. Henry has not held himself onsides and he has not made runs into the box with the same effectiveness which is why he has received less service so far this season. Even as a 9, his first touch has been off and his runs unable to find space. Like I said before, part of it is due to injuries, part to age, and a large part to currently undeveloped chemistry with him and Zlatan. I still hope he improves drastically. To me it’s only a slump and hopefully he will be at his best when we need him the most like last season in the CL 1/8 and ¼ finals.

    1. I think if Ibra starts to open to the flank (left) more often, that will help the case a lot. I kind of see more promising partnership between Ibra and Henry than between Henry and eto’o or even Ibra and Messi. Yet, If Henry and Ibra start synchronizing their moves, the result will be valleys of space for Messi/Keita to slide through.

      I still have hopes.

    2. Those are my hopes too. Don’t forget about Xavi and Iniesta who also have to score on the goal scoring front and need to step up in that regard. Especially Andres. I love Iniesta as much as any cule but DUDE, you are a winger/attacking CM. I know your job is to create plays but you HAVE to score a goal or two every 4 months or so. Still, how often have Henry and Ibra played together? Lets give them time.

      Remember when people said that Ibra was more of a supporting striker and that he drifted too much into midfield or the wing and didn’t stray as much into the box to take advantage of his physical superiority? Kinda like a football version of Rasheed Wallace, an American basketball player who in his prime as a power forward was dominating in the post but for some reason insisted on straying to the perimeter to jack up three’s which was rare for a big man and stretched defenses bur prevented him from being a truly dominant player. Now its the opposite. He is definitely living more in the box now than he did at Inter and Juve but I still want to see him on the wing some more to do exactly what Ramzi just said. He has improved on this account particularly in the RM and Xerez games but he still needs to do it more often.

  33. Whoever wants the translation of this video of messi getting the ballon d’or:



    Commentator: The 2nd part of Téléfoot, dedicated to Leo Messi. (Camera showing Messi’s face at this point) Leo messi ballon d’or by france football. And here is THE moment. (the commentator says the name of the FFF’s president, cant catch the name due to the clapping) *Name* youre going to give messi the Ballon d’Or! Ok so, lets do it!
    FFF’s president/chief (guy in brown coat, standing left to messi from our point of view): So my dear Lionel, by the name of the direction of France Football, by the name of the internation jury of France Football, I have the pleasure and the honor to give you this Ballon d’Or, which rewards your season and also barcelona’s season. Well done! (then he says something but I cant understand cause there are too many people clapping).
    Then he gives him to trophy.
    Commentator: You just received the trophy, so do you want to dedicate it to someone? Does someone come straight to your mind?
    Messi: *?* (too many people clapping so he probably couldn’t hear)
    Commentator: *repeats what I wrote above*
    Messi: I want to dedicate it my colleagues, the team, to share this trophy with them, I am very happy.Happy to be the 1st Argentine to receive this trophy and the 1st who was formed in barca and I want to thank my family, my friends. My brothers are here, I want to share it with them because its them who are always with me, and supporting me. Thank you.


  34. Kxevin,

    Just one thing I am trying to deduce from years of reviews of yours I have been reading. You do not like Iniesta or value him as much as Pep does?

    No offence intended 🙂

  35. I, as well, possess a pit-bull who may be the most caring animal I’ve ever owned. Soon, a brand new dog breed will come along to the media to blast, as they have carried out rotties and dobies in preceding many years. Unfortunate that media sensationalism breeds much inaccurate info.

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