Barca 3, Sporting Gijon 0, a.k.a. “Half-speed drubbing,” and BANGS breaks his duck

ibragoal

Yes the picture is big, but not as big as the moment. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, our big-ass Swede, got off the mark by scoring the first of what should be many, many goals for Barca. It came off (yet another) exquisite Dani Alves cross that was deflected by Gregory, the omnipresent Gijon defender.

Watching the play develop, BANGS broke away from his defender into the space left on the uncovered back post and headed the ball in. Pretty easy goal, right?

Wrong. Watch it again, and think about the concentration and skill it took to nudge a deflected ball into the space he had.

This game was all about the future of our attack, ladies and gentlemen. Not only will Ibrahimovic have to adjust to the way that we play, but we will have to adjust to the way that he plays. Keita, so accustomed to Eto’o and Henry, slowed down his run, so when Ibrahimovic made the pass, he was late on the run. Next month, that will be a tap-in for Messi or Pedro!

On the BANGS side, he’s already begun to make the inviting diagonal runs that our offense likes, rather than the Route One football he was playing in Italy last year, and the balls are coming to him. Two shots on goal and one header from which he had to make all of the power, forcing the keeper into a stretch save.

And he isn’t fully match fit yet, so you could see him marshalling his efforts, particularly after playing more than 80 minutes against a very determined Shakhtar side just 72 hours prior, on a pitch that must have been like running in quicksand. He defended on a set piece, blocking the pass and starting things going the other way, and pressured Gijon defenders.

Which won’t stop people from calling him lazy. So be it. I’ll call him a step away from full match fitness and eye-gogglingly talented. We haven’t had a striker such as he in a very, very long time, one that is as capable of battling a defender for the ball in midfield and taking off toward goal, as making a slick, side-footed pass that falls perfectly to an attacking player, to powerful headers and (soon to come) goals from crazy-ass angles in crazy-ass spaces.

And a number of times tonight, we saw the strength that enables him to hold off defenders and do his thing, rather than being pushed off the ball or buffeted about. BANGS is the real deal, everyone. Label him a flop or unimpressive now if you want, but be prepared to eat crow in a month or two. You read it here first.

The Gijon coach made absolutely no bones about what kind of match this was going to be, by saying that a 0-0 would be better than a 4-0. And he’s right. But to lay out such a craven, dog’s belly showing display doesn’t bring honor to the colors. Even 2-0 down Gijon was still playing with 10 behind the ball, venturing forward timidly as if afraid the sky was going to fall.

But good for us, as it allowed the lads to play like a scrimmage, knocking the ball around and rolling about at little more than half-speed, except for those folks playing to impress (Maxwell, Krkic) or who really only know one way (Keita, Puyol). The issue, however, wasn’t in doubt, even when Gijon had a spectacular scoring chance that a better side would have converted. Fatigue allowed us to yield too much space, and their midfielder slid an uncontested pass to a man kept onside by Maxwell, but the Gijon attacker shot high, seemingly stunned at the golden opportunity. And that was that, really.

Our starting XI was not that surprising: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Keita, Busquets, Xavi, Pedro!, Krkic, Ibrahimovic.

Nor was I all that surprised by the clunkiness that we evinced early, as Gijon were essentially playing with 6 men in the midfield in an attempt to gum up the works and prevent Xavi from doing what he does so well. So we kept the ball, bided our time and scored off of….brace yourselves….set pieces! Two of ’em, to be precise.

The first came from a perfect corner from Xavi, dropped onto the head of Keita whose deflected cross fell perfectly to Krkic, who headed home. Looks like we’ve been praciticing set pieces.

The second came from an Alves cross that found the head of Keita, who rammed it home powerfully, for the 2-0.

The third came from the aforementioned BANGS, who nodded home and lay on the pitch in what must have been glorious, glorious relief. The joy of his teammates was genuine, and it kicked off a new burst of energy from Ibrahimovic, who suddenly showed what we are in for. He was smiling, and his head was fully in the game. The result could easily have been two assists, atop his goal.

It must be said here, however, that Gijon were the perfect side for us to see so soon after the UEFA Super Cup victory, that took all of extra time. They let us do what we do, and when we were a sloppy mess, they really weren’t all that interested in capitalizing. So it was about as easy a win as you are ever going to have.

It was also a costly win, as Krkic will be out with a slightly torn muscle for a few weeks (though kids heal fast), and Maxwell will be out for a bit, but should be fine.

The illustration of Guardiola’s assertion that “without the ball, we aren’t very good” was shown time and again, as the midfield pressure that keeps possession for us even when we lose it, just wasn’t there. Nor could it be. The lads were tired. You could see it in their faces and the movement, in touches that are normally precise that wound up clunky. Xavi was giving balls away, Pedro! was showing some control issues as he worked his way into the match.

But it was all good, because Gijon didn’t really want to do anything except try their damndest to keep us from scoring, and if a counter presented itself, they’d take it. A couple times it did, and danger bells were ringing for the defense, which scrambled and scrabbled, doing what it had to do.

At times there was as much action in the stands as on the pitch, and Iniesta relaxed, Muniesa looked like a puppy wanting to go out and play, and Mourinho, on a scouting mission, occupied space next to Chygnasty. But the Special One easily saw that there wasn’t much to scout, and stopped paying attention. Chygnasty, however, looked pretty entertained by what he’s now become a part of, because players know. And I bet you he can’t wait.

Yes there really isn’t much to review. We knocked the ball around, enjoying more than 70% of possession. So let’s get to the ratings:

Team: 6. It was going to be a worse rating, then they turned on the midfield pressure and began moving the ball around. Very nice.

Guardiola: 6. He should have had them more ready to play than he did. Made the right (albeit very obvious) substitutions.

Valdes: 6. He didn’t have a lot to do, but he needs to communicate with his defense better. He had one nice save off a Gijon blast, but got caught way out of his area, battling with a Gijon attacker for the ball. If that dude has any more skill, he rounds Valdes and hits into the empty net. Whew!

Alves: 7. Fine match as our extra attacker. Cross after cross found its way to heads and feet, as he worked tirelessly to create space, intercept balls and space the pitch. He is loving the signing of Ibrahimovic, as suddenly he has a head to play to.

Pique: 6. Would have gotten a higher rating, but for a period of wayward passing that could have been dangerous against a more determined club. He settled into the match very well, however.

Puyol: 7. Effort and energy, but he has to learn to control his need to be everywhere. It forces assignment shifts under pressure as the defense scrambles to cover for him. And he, along with Maxwell, kept the Gijon attacker on for what by all rights should have been a goal for them.

Maxwell: 5. Tentative in possession and giving balls away, in addition being far too willing to give up corners rather than heading away to the sideline, made this not one of his better outings for me. And his offense wasn’t sufficient to make up for his general adequacy.

Busquets: 6. Played himself up from a poorer rating. He holds the ball too long, and doesn’t seem to have that blind side sense. And when he loses the ball he falls down, waving his arms. Play to the whistle, dammit. If you lose the ball, run back as hard as you can to atone for your error. Problem is when he gives the ball away, as he did twice today, it’s in the middle of the pitch, which lets the other side get off to the races. Knock it off. I have to say that I am not confident in anticipation of the time when The Yaya and Keita leave for ACN.

Keita: 9. Indefatigable, playing as hard late in the match as he was at the beginning, roaming to help control the defense, charging the box on offense. He really should have had two more goals to go with his goal and assist. His powerful header found the post, and he will learn to expect the pass from Ibra. I loved the match that he played today, so much so that he is Man of the Match for me.

Xavi: 7. Not bad for a half-speed outing. He lost some balls, which is very much unlike him, and at times seemed a little put out by Gijon’s midfield pressure and willingness to foul.

Pedro!: 7. Disappeared for periods, and was sloppy with possession on a few occasions, one of which led to a dangerous Gijon counter. But played into the match very well, and was all danger from about 20 minutes left, onward. He has a powerful shot that he gets off very quickly, which is never a bad thing.

Krkic: 8. The Kid was excellent today, showing all of the movement, pace and confidence that he has lacked in recent appearances. Scored the nice header, and was a constant danger to charge the box and score. Staggering work rate, as well.

Ibrahimovic: 6. Get in shape so that you can play a complete match, dude. Can’t wait.

Substitutes

Abidal (for Maxwell): 9. I hope everyone saw the difference that he made with his strength and pace. And his offensive forays continue, with some great passing and a cross that deserved to be scored with.

Jeffren (for Krkic): 4. Ran around out there, and wasn’t very assertive. Tentative in the box, when he should have charged the cross, and worried about the offsides call later.

Fontas (for Pique): incomplete. He came in Gijon had pretty much gone belly up.

Other thoughts

–Botia looked rather erratic. Don’t forget that one of their back line is on loan from us. He got smoked on a couple of plays, but he’ll get better for them. And don’t forget that they don’t play our kind of system, which is how he was raised, so to speak.

–Damn, we looked good in HD. I could get used to that.

–The England-centric announcers should be ashamed of themselves. The bottom of the Prem is just as determined to play for the 0-0 as the bottom of the Liga. For them to assert otherwise shows a laughable xenophobia.

–Our lads need to play to the whistle. Time and again you’d see players, sitting or laying on the pitch, waiting for a call that never came. Meanwhile, we’re 10 v 11 because they’re off on a counter, and you can’t get back in time.

–I am really, really excited about the future. Imagine a world in which 5 men can’t collapse on Ibrahimovic, when Henry, Messi and Iniesta are out there to complete Murderers’ Row.

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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.

142 Comments

  1. El Tel
    August 31, 2009

    First? For the first Liga match?

  2. El Tel
    August 31, 2009

    Great stuff as usual, Kevo. My only complaint about the ESPN HD coverage was Robbie “big-time Burnley” Musto’s pissy tone in regards to the best club side in the world. The complete dismantling of Man U was not enough proof for him, though Fergie and the lads were quite complimentary. The worldview of this sort of commentator often seems to be that a team can’t really be good unless they’re a Prem side. And how could Ibra’s header off a deflection not be deemed remarkable? (Musto pooh-poohed it as lucky, if I remember correctly.)

  3. Eduard
    August 31, 2009

    i think most of you will agree with me here in that barca seems to be taking it easy. I think we’re still in pre-season form. That of coarse might be because of the new faces trying to fit into our system.

    Sad to see Bojan and Maxwell injured as I see them as a big part of what’s going to make this season a success or failure.

    On the upside, that was a well time header from the balerina gansta nija dude. I was hoping for a more magical first goal(kinda like the first kiss you’d expect from your future wife but it ends up being in the back of a beat up civic).

    Congrats Cules and only 37 liga games to go.

  4. Tajh
    August 31, 2009

    Wow……..new website but same master class in quality of witting.What an enjoyable read this hour of the night.

    I to can’t wait for the future..to bad this international break has to come at such a time.Throughout the match i had my eyes on BANGS to see what he really do off the ball.
    Although he may not run all over as Eto’o does he do push around his defenders a lot to make space for himself.

    Hopefully when he is full match fitness he would be even more deadly but so far all we know he is a forward who performs depending on his mood.

  5. miz
    August 31, 2009

    4th of the season..hehe..

    satisfy with their performance las nite..look in gud shape. can be better when messi, iniesta, toure and henry join in. but we create not much clear chances..

    haha..ibra show unselfishness..great. he may score..but still pass to keita on a very nice long ball from xavi…

  6. katalini5
    September 1, 2009

    hey all, i’m a little new to this posting business, so hopefully all goes well. i love that espn now has some of the la liga rights as somehow my cable package only allows me to have the spanish version of gol tv. while i enjoy being able to see the games, hearing them in english is nice too. although, the two commentaries espn had going in the beginning of the game was exceedingly annoying. hopefully espn, much like barcelona, will work out the kinks as the season progresses.

    it was frustrating to hear the espn commentators trot out all the tired zlatan criticisms that must be handed out to all english press members every season. this is the age old question for the english press, if it happened outside england with no english team present, did it happen at all? the answer always appears to be no. (and this is coming from a person who also supports man utd)

    can’t wait to see more from a fully fit and fully communicating trident of zlatan, messi, and henry with a little bojan thrown in the mix.

  7. txikidracula
    September 1, 2009

    love the ode to ibra from kxevin. i think yellows might be a factor for him if he keeps up this pace, muscling defenders off the ball, and running back to the midfield to get some of the action. i love it. so fired up!

    i hate seeing dudes fall after a foul, covering their faces, then taking a peek to see if the referee whistled it their way, in any team let alone barcelona.

    happy about espn deportes’ coverage. i hate that i had to watch the english version of goltv for the last half of the la liga season last year. those guys should be commenting on minor league baseball not my beloved barca. barca in hd!!!!

  8. Mher
    September 1, 2009

    im sorry, i knew what BAS was. but what does the complete BANGS stand for?

  9. scav
    September 1, 2009

    Got home to find that I had taped . . . the standard feed instead of the HD one.

    [ slams head against the table ]

    No matter. It all looked beautiful.

    Halfway through the second half, our possession % was SEVENTY-TWO. Wow.

  10. Jose
    September 1, 2009

    Big Ass Ninja Gangsta Swede 😛

    Don’t be sorry, it took me a while to figure out who people meant by JDS.

  11. Mher
    September 1, 2009

    Oh and Kxevin!! big mistake in the ratings! You wrote that losing the ball was very much like Xavi. You prolly meant the opposite and was just typing fast. Blasphemy! lolz

  12. Soto
    September 1, 2009

    Don’t apologize, Mher. When I saw the title of the post, I immediately planned to ask the same question.

  13. Soto
    September 1, 2009

    Throughout all of last season, I pretty much never noticed Keita while watching the matches. I don’t know why, but he never stood out to me.

    Today, he seemed to be all over the place. I think it’s more than merely there was no Messi, Henry, or Iniesta to overshadow him (not to mention, the Yaya). I think Keita’s game has really improved from last season. He definitely deserves to be the Man of the Match.

    I also agree about Bojan, Kevin. It’s amazing what a relaxed focus does for someone that talented. That said, I fearfully wait to see if Bojan can maintain today’s performance in the face of better competition.

    Finally, watching the game on ESPN360.com was a nice change from the fight for random feeds on the web. So, despite the fact that the commentators made me yearn for RayRay, it was nice to be able to watch the game on demand and with half-decent quality. Here’s hoping ESPN gets the Barcelona La Liga games as often as possible.

  14. September 1, 2009

    I like to point out Pep and co work on set pieces. Regardless of the fact that having Pique-Puyol-Keita-Ibra give lot of potentials while taking corners, I like the set ups in this game, so credit to the coaching staff. Hope we generate more combinations. As these ones will be obviously scouted.

  15. Corrine
    September 1, 2009

    games like these excite me with the idea of bojan and pedro as part of our attack line in the future! sporting probably felt relieved to see that there was no henry or messi in the starting line up and probably no iniesta, but bojo and keita put on quite the show

    it seems like the england-bias will never go away. i mentioned this in the liveblog, but i absolutely cringe everytime i go on the soccernet site, and see how their sections are divided as “england” and “europe”

    btw the El Banquillo post has made its way across the internet, i see people referencing stuff like “PulgaMyFinger” and “Yo! /kisses club crest Visca Barça!” all the time aha. well done well done

  16. September 1, 2009

    yeah ramzi, our average height has gone up considerably of late.. ibra, pique, abidal, busquets, toure, keita, henry.. suddenly we have an aerial threat about us. whether it’s enough to take on the tall english teams (chelsea) in the aerial battles is another issue but it would be interesting to see if pep has decided to develop that aspect of the team more.

    Perhaps sporting were not prepared for the set pieces and a better team might have coped with the surprisingly good crosses coming in from Alves. Still remains to be seen.

    Why did Ibra try n pass to Jeffren when he should have scored his second. One gets the feeling that he’s trying too hard to play an unselfish game. Eto’ was selfish and that’s why he kept banging in the goals.

  17. jnelson
    September 1, 2009

    that was straight dope Kevin. Again, I was so impressed with our set pieces and crossing. Adding that dimension to our game is so important. I can’t wait to see Murderer’s Row: that will be AWESOME. So much talent and skill on our team, sometimes I wonder if YAYA will just collapse the universe….seriously

  18. ElShowDeJason
    September 1, 2009

    let me preface this by saying that so far i have only read the ratings and the reasons.
    _____________

    Hey Kxevin, I started the Busquets Fairness Committee, and not even i would have given him a 6.

    He never really lost balls with shit passes, but he did lose balls when he took too long to decide what to do with possesion, and once again i noticed that when he stuck out his foot to try to stop it, it deflected to an opponent.

    In all fairness you did start with “Played himself up from a poorer rating.”, so im guessing he must have done some nice stuff at the end of the game. I must have not seen it in all the BANGSTA goal excitement.

    now, i am going to go read the rest of the review, to see what else i can criticize about…

  19. September 1, 2009

    Mourinho: Hey Samu.. I can call you Samu right?

    Eto’: Sup Moo? call me Barca boy

    Mourinho: oh ok.. speaking of whom.. what can you tell me about them? how can I stop them passing my team off the pitch?

    Eto’: I’m wouldn’t tell you Moo even if there was a way to stop us… I mean them. But there isn’t. You could hire the Chelsea ground staff to “doctor” the San Siro pitch when they come to play us.

    Mourinho: Oh yeah forgot bout that.. but you guys still beat us.

    Eto’: You still have your membership, go watch them play cos you’re not getting anything from me.

  20. yogi
    September 1, 2009

    Good review Kevin and agree with the ratings.

    ESPN commentators were average, say generously. Do they really watch EPL? Teams like Stoke, Hull or even Burnley last weekend dont really try to play top quality teams period. The surprising fact was that last season Gijon were challenging but seem to have decided against the strategy this season which is a pity.

    Loved the set pieces play by our side. We have got height and with little and small combo coming soon, teams are not going to know how to stop us.

    Sad about the injuries though.

  21. Han
    September 1, 2009

    Wonderfull stuff Kevin, as well as all of these comments like the one above from Reaganovermas.

    Like Keita alot also last year, seems like many fans rate him quite poorly. He was for example very good last year against Villareal when I was in the stands and postponed our title fest in the last minute 🙁

    Btw 1: @ Isaiah Hristo Stoichkov is tha shit. Remember that indirect freekick in groupfase of WC ’94 (guess against Nigeria or Greece) he scored taking it direct, when he had to do it over he just copy pasted!!!

    Btw2: Murderer’s Row sounds very good, but I like Death Row better; any thoughts?

  22. Mher
    September 1, 2009

    i think Chygryinsky felt a mild orgasm today while watching.

  23. Han
    September 1, 2009

    Chygnasty thoughts after the game:
    Hmmm, I don’t really have to do shit besides kick some balls , bodycheck small spanish dudes and head some roundformed object away above a bunch of midgets.

    And on top of this they wanted to pay me even the same $ as in Ukrainehellofallplaces, I told them I would do it for free. But then again it looks so stupid to earn nothing when they pay 25 million, so I will collect some change for parking tickets.

    Shht, this guy might become a counterforce to The Yaya in this galaxy.

  24. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 1, 2009

    Only got to see the highlights, but it’s great to see Barcelona scoring on headers. That is definitely a good plan B when teams start packing the box as they most certainly will.

    Ibra’s header was about an 8 out of 10 on degree of difficulty. Fantastic concentration.

    And these qualifiers in Sept…WTF. Why don’t they have them last week of August, then Spanish league start up. Or, Spain should start their season’s earlier. And, how do England schedule their games. I mean they have already player 4, but they don’t have a winter break??

  25. September 1, 2009

    Thanks Han.

    It seems like we are going to have two beckenbauer-esque players in the team (pique and chygsy). If Chygnasty does live up to his billing.. then WHOA! After last nights game we could clearly see that pique was very comfortable on the ball, always looking up to make a pass that xavi would be proud of. Pique is clearly capable of doing so but puyol isn’t. Puyol always makes the sure pass to xavi or to abidal but I’ve never seen him bring the ball out like pique.

    If Chygnasty is as good as pique or better, then it remains to be seen if Pep would actually play both of them together cos the results would be very very exciting indeed. Chygnasty and pique both making the same raking passes to henry on the right or messi on the left is moth watering indeed!

  26. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 1, 2009

    PS If you guys don’t know about it, there is a Chinese website called youku. It’s similar to youtube, but there is no limit on the length of video that can be uploaded. Hence, they often post the full match (usually in two halves) the next day or two.

    You can search for Barcelona matches using this 巴萨.

    Then, when the search comes up, click on this 最新发布. Which puts the most recent posts first. Then, you can look for the 45 minute posts. As I have just done and will be watching the match now (usually comes on between 2am and 4am here in Shanghai).

    Hope this is useful to y’all.

  27. Alexis
    September 1, 2009

    Guys,
    I appreciate your opinions. And, trust me, I hate having a different one (so far).
    Maybe it’s my brain needing to get used to a different way of play. Someone said it: why would Guardiola get rid of Eto’o and bring another guy who does exactly the same? By bringing BANGS he proposes variations in the system.

    So far I can see that Ibra is out of form. Look at him after 60 minutes and his face is similar to that of Keita in the “Som un” advert (where the hell am I? How did I end up here? When is this finishing?).
    I don´t complain about that. However, IMHO he lacks concentration when tired. He lost soooo many balls (more than recovered, if you count them). He would have to acknowledge that. And then, as he is so technic with the ball, give it back in a single touch. Get rid of it boy! As opposed to keeping it and losing it!
    I am positive he will be improving a lot as Kevin says in the next month or two.

    As per Keita, he looks like more confident. In the last two matches I have seen him doing things unexpected from him during the last year. I like him now. Very much indeed.

    Abidal…what can you say? I had a similar perspective of him as Keita, but he is now surprising me. Nice one!

    Maybe I am reading too much Kevin lately and his praises towards them are sinking in 🙂

    Anyway, I don’t want to be like all those “Socis” criticising the team after 10 minutes. So I will give BANGS a loooot of time. Surely he proves me wrong!

  28. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 1, 2009

    Ha, I like moth watering better 🙂

  29. September 1, 2009

    Spot on, Kevin.

    – I would have actually have given Xavi a lower grade. Blasphemy, I know. I understand that the dude is tired and the focal point of opposing teams with no Iniesta or Messi to draw attention. I also know that we only expect nothing less than perfection from the best center-mid in the world. However, it seemed so weird to see him lose so many balls (by his standards). Iniesta cannot get back soon enough. Xavi just played 210 minutes in four days including 120 in a mud bowl and you know del Bosque, being the Madridista he is and wanting to win, will start him on both games for the NT. Our maestro needs a rest and some help.

    – I’m glad Keita is finally getting the love. The dude is a beast. A human lung. He has played the same minutes as Xavi and looked as if he was daisy fresh. Great game from him. This is the Keita that formed half of one of the best double pivot combos in recent history at Sevilla.

    – We need to move the ball faster through midfield to get more chances. This was one of the great insights of the Shaktar coach. If we don’t move the ball through midfield quickly then we simply get less chances. Our one touch passing is still off the mark although it will get accurate again soon. Iniesta and Messi will help immensely with this.

    – We did the right thing. If the midifield is packed with five or six guys, move through the wings and attack from there. Pedro! looked like a rookie but he also did a good job of spreading the field.

    – Notice how Ibra switched with Bojan quite often. Me likee.

    – Great back post crashing and marker dragging in set pieces. Also, excellent deliveries by Xavi and Alves. This is awesome as it is an excellent bus crashing remedy. We only need to score the first goal ans the games will usually open up from there assuming that a team has the incentive to actually try.

    – Puyol slowly laying down on top of Ibra and hugging him was simultaneously heart-warming and disturbing 🙂 .

  30. September 1, 2009

    lol! at last line on hector’s post 🙂

  31. September 1, 2009

    Oh yeah, I am definitely getting the “latino/hispanic/deportes/” package from Dish as soon as possible to get ESPN Deportes. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, its x10000000 better than Adrian Healey and the other drab idiot blabbering nonsense.

    BTW Casillas was talking shit. “Man for man, RM has a better squad” and “Eto’o is much better than Ibra”.

  32. OhYes
    September 1, 2009

    Hey you guys remember when their top of the table played for 0-0? Some blue team or something…
    ——————————————————–

    Good review. I had completely forgotten that Jeffren was playing. Not very good! I don’t think he is all that ready yet but I hope he does something because I don’t want him to leave. 🙁

    Keita was my motm too. Such a workhorse and so effective. He had games like this last season when people were hating on him for some reason. He still has detractors! Such an unfair world.

  33. BarcInd
    September 1, 2009

    Hello there

    RE: the bad commentary from the british chaps

    I listened to Barca Radio for the match yest & it was quite good (no coverage of a barca game in india – they show the little leagues instead!!). I suggest- mute the TV & switch on the online radio (as long as they are in sync).

    Or, just be glad that you didnt stay up to 1:00 AM – only to realise that you’re not gonna be able to watch the first league game.

  34. September 1, 2009

    BarcInd, there seems to be an issue with the telecast rights. But i read somewhere that espnstar should start telecasting the games after the world cup qualifiers. Not written in stone yet though so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

    On a negative note, i was checking the Barca game times on soccernet.com and it’s appears that most of the games henceforth start at 16.00 hrs GMT, which is not good news because it will clash with the premier league coverage in india and they won’t show the la liga matches for sure.

    It’s much more fun watching a good stream online with some tasty comments on the live chat here. 🙂

  35. Han
    September 1, 2009

    Jeffren was rated a bit harsh in my opinion. Kevin points out his miss (I believe on a cross by Ibra) but so did Pedro at the second post. I was impressed with the crazy speed he showed in one of his runs at the wing.

    Anyway, he got like 10mins hardly the time to do big things and I would give him an inconclusive or a 5.

    Did anyone have the same feeling (around minute 10-20) that we played like how the whole of season 2007-2008 went: knowing we are better, a lack of trying/tiredness, just not really hungry and relying on individual class?

    Don’t remember if it were these minutes which gave me the feeling but it simmered there fore a while, but finally it got replaced by a feeling of ‘oh they’re tired and we need time to get our act completely together.

  36. Muhammad
    September 1, 2009

    yup, we’ve finally won impressively.. lacking key players, tired and cutting our celebrations short and yet we won, and with goals from set pieces and headers.
    to quote from the last Phil Ball article “Barcelona on the other hand, need to play well to win. It’s a great virtue, but a potential weakness as well. If they play poorly, they lose.”

  37. kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    Yes! I will correct that Xavi typo as soon as I get in front of a real computer. I read it just now and recoiled in horror! 😀

    I loved that we got Gijon at this moment. Perfect opponent. Now uncapped players can rest, and capped ones can figure out some injury to claim. But they will work harder in practice than they did v Gijon.

    And I like me some Phil Ball, but he is still showing traits of the doubter. Last season we showed that we could win without playing well. Crikey! What does the reigning best club in the world have to do?

    Something that I was remiss in pointing out was the 10 or 15 minute stretch in which Gijon decided to play. And you could see us turn up the midfield pressure and movement, to make sure they knew what the deal was. Knockout!

    I have no idea how good this team can be. If Ibra does what I believe he is going to do, we could be better than last season.

    Oh. Chygnasty is HUGE.

  38. September 1, 2009

    I read Phil Ball’s article Muhammed but i disagree with that statement that you stated.

    IMHO he’s trying to differentiate the difference between Madrid (a group of brilliant individuals) opposed to Barcelona (a well rounded team). He suggests that we will lose if the team doesn’t perform well failing to take into account that we actually have a group of brilliant individuals who play as a team first and then the individual brilliance comes to the fore when it has to. Messi and the likes are easily capable of winning a game for us even if the team plays poorly. hence its not necessarily a weakness but a mere hindrance to achieving a final product.

  39. mike
    September 1, 2009

    I can’t understand the love for keita. he was absolutely useless in the first half except for his goal. He is not an attacking midfielder so is he a defensive midfielder? Well if he is, we simply don’t need 2 of them on the pitch at the same time.

    The whole first period xavi was alone trying to make plays while Keita did nothing for the attack. That’s why we were’nt getting anywhere on our attack. He passed maybe one ball forward. There was one def. midfielder=Busquets, one cm=Xavi and one-what-position-are-you-playing midfielder=Keita. Our game looks light years from last years. Hoping for iniesta to return… ASAP!

  40. September 1, 2009

    When I read that statement by Phil ball, Muhammad and Reagan(overmars), I was somewhat taken aback. That’s the first time I’ve felt that Ball’s madridismo has overtaken his sense of fairness and understanding of the game.

    It’s as if he’s bought into the notion that Real Madrid have match winners and Barcelona doesn’t. What? Really? Please. I’d rather we played beautifully as a team than as a group of 11 individuals on the field of course, but to act as if there’s more straight up talent on Madrid is pure fantasy. They’ve got a great squad, there can be no denying it, but so does Barcelona.

    Our defense is better, our attack is better (or at absolute worst, on equal footing, but I believe Messi’s and Henry’s proven abilities in La Liga + Ibra’s potential outweigh Benzema+CRonaldo’s potential). Acting as if RM making a run for the title while playing crappily is anything other than a negative is just dumb.

    Phil Ball, you’re getting called out on this one.

  41. September 1, 2009

    New fact about Chygnasty-

    – He actually finished college and has a degree in finance. He says he wants to keep on studying. It seems more and more like he’s the type of guy who won’t have problems adapting to life in Barcelona.

    Mike- Its called a box to box midfielder. They exist for a reason.

  42. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    I have to admit that keita played really well yesterday, he is finding his spot in the team even though I think the youngsters (thiago or JDS) could bring more espectacle to our game… busi as dm should have done better. pedro and bojan did what they had to do, same as Ibra. One thing I didn’t like was everyone giving condolences to Ibra when he scored, it was like when a crippled guy scores a basket or something 😉

  43. September 1, 2009

    Keita must have played REALLY well. Even poipoi is giving him props 😉 .

    I’ll stick with Puyol’s tender man hug on top of Ibra. 😀

  44. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    Yeah Isaiah, and remember (I know you do 😉 ) Xavi Yaya and Iniesta, 3 of the top 5 midfielders of the world (I’d count also masche and gerrard) are in our team. When we play against EE they won’t even smell the ball.
    – Our defense is better (I guess EE supporters can arque that) – Our attack is better also (they think theirs is better)
    – Our midfield is the best of the world (no one can deny that, not even EE supporters)
    * iker to me is better than valdes but that is debatable also

  45. Muhammad
    September 1, 2009

    exactly Isaiah, how many times last season we were away, and not playing at our best and then Messi scored a crucial goal..how could he forget the Iniesta screamer against Chelsea?
    by the way Reaganovermars, Overmars is my all time favorite player, even more than Bergkamp.. I hope Reagan is your first name or something, as I can think only of one Reagan and I am not a big fan of him haha.
    by the way, I don’t know why you hate Overmars so much Kevin.
    not really, he was a flop with Barcelona and for most of the money we got from Figo sale.

  46. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    overmars in barça was really lame… he came as a star and we all laughed at him in barcelona. maan those were dark times!!! 😉

  47. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    hector… I think mike is kinda right. but knowing keita’s limitations he played REALLY well yesterday 😛

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