A Messi moment, aka “This tendency could come back to bite us in the bum”

This here is an ode to box crashing, the lost art.

The above video (brilliant, alias11! Brilliant!), a spectacular Messi moment, has him essentially owning the core of the Panathinaikos defense in a run that should have added an assist to his already gaudy totals.

And yet, it didn’t, which is good in way, becuase it gives Guardiola a chance to say “See? You guys suck!”

More critically, in bigger matches, you will only get a few real chances to score and you have to take full advantage. Grabbing those moments can be the difference between winning and going home when you get deep into a tourney like Champions League.

Let’s break this sucka down:

–When Messi heads for their box, it’s obvious what he’s going to do. It’s also obvious that Panathinaikos is going to wall him off, which means that at the end of it, he will be looking to pass.

–Alves stands there, Villa actually runs away from the goal and Pedro! isn’t quite sure what to do.

So at the moment of the pass, Alves, Pedro! and Villa are forming a triangle of futility. It’s one of the many gifts of the voracious Eto’o, that ability to put himself where the ball is going to be, by hook or by crook. If you pause the video at the moment of the pass, both Villa and Alves have acres of space to run into. Perhaps Villa is thinking that Messi will work the cutback. Alves just looks stunned, though he’s probably seen those about 1,000 times in practice. And P! lets himself run into a position of ineffectuality, though it’s clear that there is no way in hell that ball is going to get through to him.

It’s the virtue of the near post run. When you have an dribbling, attacking wonder such as Messi, who destabilizes defenses as soon as he enters the pitch, it is crucial that our other attackers realize the value of taking advantage of his chaos. Messi does it all the time, witnessed by his goal against Panathinaikos, in that very same match:

Look at how he is constantly watching Adriano to see what he is going to do. Once it becomes obvious that Adriano is going to square the ball, Messi wastes no time in putting himself in a position where he at least has a shot at the goal. This means getting his body, or at least a foot, between his teammate and the defender, because he knows that you won’t get an easier scoring chance than a square ball on the doorstep. Messi has knocked in quite a few of those, just as Eto’o did when he was here. They’re easy goals.

They’re also goals that Bojan Krkic has a knack for, with his quick, slippery movements.

Are such things linked to a striker’s instinct? Maybe. Villa is a striker, and he didn’t do it. It’s one of the many quibbles that I have with him. P! should know the value of an easy finish, as such things put him on the map last season, as well as timely goals in abundance.

No, those goals aren’t pretty. Hell, Messi just bundles the ball over the line, really. Yes, it’s a beautiful team goal, but hardly an exquisite finish. Nonetheless, it counts the same on the score sheet.

With the players that we have and what they can do with a ball when turned loose on the defense, we simply must develop the ability to crash the keeper. Watching Messi create a highlight reel dribble doesn’t help the cause, nor does it help Messi. It’s a lot of effort and potential risk of a hard foul. The result should at least be a shot on goal. Look at the dribble video again, and ask what might have happened had Villa taken advantage of the defender whose full attention was on Messi, to run into the open space created by the movement of the three defenders. Probably a tap-in.

We don’t have a great many offensive flaws, but that reluctance on the part of players not named Messi or Keita to follow up dribbles by getting to the mouth of the goal is, to me, one of them.

Discuss.

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.

132 comments

  1. I don’t think anyone will disagree with you. Even the commentators realize this. Somebody HAS to crash the box.

  2. Not directly related, but I loved how Alves beat the defender after collecting the ball near the end of that move, after the pass hadn’t been met by anyone and went out back to Alves? Lovely.

  3. I noticed Villa always like to collect the ball and shoot on the margin of the box. He has scored many beautiful goals from there. But somehow he barely scores easy goals right in front of the goal. Ibra had the same problem. Either he doesn’t like to do so because it’s too easy or he doesn’t know how to position himself among the defenders and make himself available for the pass. Sigh, we need a real center striker in the box.

  4. I was crackin up while reading this post although it wasn’t meant to be funny. Sorry Kxev.
    -Villa “ran away”
    -Alves “stunned”

    Damn!! I gotta download the match. Can’t wait to see the action of those 2.

    And I loved to see Etoó’s name being brought up and Kluivert’s name by someone a few posts back.
    In late 1990’s I’ve always wanted Henry to move to Barca to form a partnership with Kluivert to complete the attack with Figo.
    That would’ve been my dream since Ronaldo left us.

    Blitzen & Outerspace,
    My house in Holland used to be 6metres below the sea level. Oh I forgot to add a few metres since I stayed on the 2nd floor of an apartment 😆

    Outerspace,
    Bernabeu & Camp Nou has one of the steepest stadium. It’s like you’re sitting on top of each other. Never been there, but that’s how my friend described it.

  5. Anybody have any links for last year’s Camp Nou showdown? I will nickname it, “Ibra’s fineset hour,” or, “The longest thirty minutes (or, freaking Busquets!!)”

    Thanks!

    1. *http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=083f4a63779b1018ab1eab3e9fa335ca40ba01fb043e9829

      Courtesy of Pakman at fbtz.com

    2. Actually…does anyone have any non-.mkv files for this game? I downloaded the first half files, tried to view it, but .mkv files just have never worked for me. Thanks again, or anyway, as the case may be!

  6. Cant disagree Kevin, but what annoys me most is that we try to walk the ball to the net almost every time and that’s why we don’t shoot enough.
    For Gods sake we didn’t have a single shot on goal against Chelsea in that famous semifinal until there were no other options, if there is anything i want to say it will be SHOOT THE DAMN BALL.

    1. In that particular match, we jsut had no space. Chelsea was defending really good. Just like Inter. But yeah, our team generally lack shooting powers.
      Messi has an immense power, even back then so he should use it more.
      Pedro has a lot in him too, as seen last season.
      So we should be better off in teh shooting department. It’s just that they always hesitate to shoot.

      I don’t blame them though cause most of the time they get the ball around the box, there will be at least 2 team mates around waiting for the ball, so they continue to pass.

      I do it too when I play, I will always try to pass the ball instead of shooting. Thats why I always get a lot of stick. But then, I say,
      “Hey! Barca style baby!!”

  7. I agree it’s frustrating to watch us not crash the boards sometimes. But we don’t know what Pep’s instructions to the players are. Since they MUST see Messi make these runs often enough in practice, I’m sure Pep has gone over what to do with the other players. Maybe they’re told to give him space, after all crashing the box also drags watchful defenders in. Don’t forget that we don’t want to get caught too far up either. If Dani charges in shanks flying there’s the chance that a post will go up on here evaluating his worth once the we notice him zooming back to “make up” for his position on the field.

  8. Barcelona have only won 1 Spanish league when they lost the #clasico at home that season, 81 years ago #fcblive [via @2010MisterChip]

    courtesy of barcastuff.

    it should give us all the more incentive to come up with the W this upcoming monday!

  9. all summed up in a phrase Pep should shout himself hoarse with in training this weekend:

    más llegada! más llegada!

  10. offtopic
    @kari, regarding ur question about h many engineers we have in this blog in the previous post,i m a mechanical engineer.hopefully will do my masters in some states uni in 2,3yrs tyme.
    @outerspace,u r fr maldives,i m fr bangladesh.nice to know someone from the SAARC region.h was eid ul ajha?its strange h many of us knw bout thanksgiving,yet h few of us knw little bout eids.in my case i kmw bout thanksgiving fr friends,simpsons,2 nd half a man.
    @eklavya,isnt ur nick taken from the epic mahavarat where the character cut his thumb according to the request of his mentor dronachyarjha.
    @everybody,if any1 of u read HP then i recommed u to read MAHABHARAT.TO ME ITS GREATER THEN ILLIAD.
    Regarding classico,check out sid lowe @SPORTSILLUSTRATED.
    MY own thoughts on classico.
    1.rm will play counter attack.so my recommendations not to play such a high defensive line.
    2.its essential masch should start.he can instill fear,which biscuit cant(a v good ply though he is)
    3.villa should run his socks off lyk RCG(I really lyk this nick,thanx kxevin)
    4.nullify the left flank by employing messi as a RF.
    THANX KXEVIN 4posting this,have been telling bout this tendency of ours 4 a long tym.
    A QUESTION TO EVERYBODY,SINCE WHEN R U SUPPORTING BARCA?I M FR 99.
    finally just fractured my r8 leg while going to office yesterday,it could have been serious.doctor say 6weeks complete rest.now to make matters worse i m getting married @19th december.so plz all the folks plz pray 4 my speedy recovery.
    @KXEVIN,u,isiah,soccermom,luke,ramzi,jnice,vj,kari i c u guys a lot in this blog(coz u r the contrhbutors nd the others r star posters in this blog)who do u think is the pep,xavi,ini,messi,p of this blog?
    Apologising for the long post.

    1. First of all, wish you a speedy recovery and congratulations on getting hitched.. Please don’t apologize for a long post.. If it were so, Ramzi, Euler etc. would have lots of apologizing to do..

      There are a lot of people from SAARC here, Ahsan, K being some I can name off the top my head, me being one too..

      And Eklavya is his name, its not a nick.. You could substitute that for Peanuts/Ekar though..

    2. Bhaya,
      I apologize for suspecting that you are “greecebarca” in disguise.
      But it’s just the way you write(format) is so similar to him 😆

    3. hmm.read greece barcas comments but not observed them.elementary that what holmes should say in this case.
      Bhaya,r u a cule fr 96?

    4. I’m going to take that as a compliment even though it may not seem so..

      For what? double-dots after every sentence? I was (still am) writing in this manner waaay before GreeceBarca started commenting here.. It meant to be a pause longer than the usual full stop, which is how I speak sometimes 🙂

    5. Haha, I know the word ‘Eklavya’ from this Indian movie with Amitabh Bachchan.

      Oh we celebrate Eid very much here in Maldives (and in Malaysia where we used to live). Though most people who don’t watch American movies or series (admittedly very few people don’t) do know about Thanksgiving. So around here yeah a lot of us do know about Eid.

      If by ‘here’ you meant this blog or the internet though, yeah, many people aren’t too familiar with Eid, Diwali etc from what I see. Culture-wise its a bit of a two-way mirror thing between the US and most of the rest of the world I guess. Like we know about Thanksgiving and Halloween and hear jokes about New Jersey or references to Super Bowl cos we have American channels and see American/Canadian series, movies, etc, but Asian-made movies, series etc (and thus the stuff talked about in them, like our holidays from Eid to Diwali or regional jokes or whatever) aren’t as common there? (Then again, where I’m from, the movies and series are absolutely awful- I mean even I almost never watch them- so that’s hardly a surprise).

      For example, K’naan is the only celebrity page I have on FB that wished his followers Happy Eid, and then again he’s Muslim (I think) so he would know about it- I’d have been surprised if Taylor Swift or Pique or some other celebrity had put up a Happy-Eid status cos I don’t think they’d really know about it, right? But in blogs like this or other internet stuff, people can meet and know about each other in a two-way interactive way now.

    6. I went to college with a bunch of kids from India and Pakistan. I remember Eid as a day when everyone wore green and ate a lot more than normal in the dorm cafeteria.
      And Diwali knocked my socks off. All of those pink-sari’d beauties dancing patterns in colored powders.
      As RayRay would say,
      ‘Are you KIDDING me?’
      Beautiful, beautiful days.
      All you need for a good Thanksgiving is a leftover turkey with mayo on Wonderbread sandwich and a ‘Godfather’ movie marathon on basic cable.
      Happy festivals to all,
      SoMa

    7. Where I’m from I’ve never known of people wearing green.

      Maybe its cos where we are there are already full-blown celebrations and stuff but since there isn’t one over there maybe wearing green is just their way of showing some celebration? Dunno.

      I would really love to eat turkey though, a real Thanksgiving style bird. The only turkey I’ve ever had is the luncheon-meat turkey in cans that are the slightly grey-pink slices you put on sandwiches. If I end up going to college in the US I’ll get to eat Thanksgiving dinner though!

    8. And as for from when have I been supporting Barca- well hahaha I got FIFA 2000 for the PlayStation and always played with Barca and for some reason became a fan, way back before I even had cable. I didn’t see a single European club football match until the 2006/2007 season when I first got sports cable though. So depends on how you look at it, either 2000 (when I became a ‘fan’) or 2006 (when I actually saw a game, which one might say is needed to qualify one as being a fan).

  11. so I was thinking about how we combat EE’s attack this Monday and here’s my defensive plan –

    When one thinks about the number of times the C.Ronaldo threat has been quelled, there is one defensive performance that stands out from the rest. Puyol in the Champions league final in Rome. He was majestic! I’m thinking we should have a roving defensive line of 4 of Alves – Puyol – Pique – Abidal with Alves playing much higher up and Puyol looking after the threat from the left flank. If he switches flanks then Abidal is more than capable of negating the danger from there.

    That being said, if we continue playing the fantasy football we’ve been dishing out, then taking care of their attackers will be very sporadic and we will just have to make sure our concentration doesn’t drop (it won’t).

    I guess! but I’m psyched!!!

    1. Ronaldo will surely beat us if Pique played like he did for the past few weeks. His positioning was really poor when Cisse had a go at Valdes in Greece.

    2. coming to the classico piques form worries me most.if he plays lyk dat crynaldo,ozil will rule over him.
      Cause of his form i think we should start smash over biscuit

    3. I’ve been spamming Pique’s FB page wall with motivational videos (and his photo comment thread with motivational messages) hahahahahahahaha.

  12. Keiteee…He’s the only one in this team who does the llegada runs..

    I would also like to point out this Bojan goal scored against Osasuna last season where he shows execllent box crashing ability:
    //http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi_aGVkDpl4

    Look how he collects the ball from Yaya (0.01) on the right wing and passes to Pedro while making a diagonal run into the box..
    Pedro passes to Iniesta all the while Bojan is making his way to the box and positioning himself so that he’ll be in front of the defender (0.04-0.06) Iniesta passes to Bojan who has crashed the box effectively (0.09) and Bojan scores a tap-in hwich was made into one is because of his effective movement.

    1. agree bout keita being the player crashing in the box.though he disrupts other teams plays he contributes little in our buildup IM0.
      BOJAN is a striker lyk raul.villa is not.lyk kxevin said each striker bring some new thing to this team lyk zlat the big mouths kung fu kick

  13. thanx vj.getting hitched is a nerve wrecking xperience lyk the classico.if i can win lyk barca then i m the happiest man in the wrld.now i have only one ambition left.2 c a classico @camp nou

    1. Share the dream of watching a Clasico (or Champions league match) in the Camp Nou.

      Also maybe a WC match there, if Spain/Portugal 2018 wins the bid, even though it being the WC would mean I won’t be seeing Barca play.

    1. First year M Tech eh? I just finished my M Tech in June

      you trying for further studies abroad or something?

    2. finished my B.Sc in ME in 2007.now i m in a job.try to do the masters in states.prefarbly south carolina,oklahoma,wichita,colorado or texastech.not now though,i m targeting 2013

    3. Not really, I’ll be taking up a job after I complete my Masters.. Too fed up to study further!

      You graduated from UICT right? Trying for a PhD?

    4. Pretty much yeah!
      But since I am taking a sabbatical now I have no clue what I will be doing in the next year!

    5. Hey Vj !

      I’ve recently moved to Bombay too. I live in Dadar. I’ve seen IIT Powaii and I love the ground there. Is it possible for me to join you some day for a game? I can’t find too many places in Bombay to play. Usually i play at Juhu beach on Sunday mornings with my friends.

      And are they screening El Clasico in the IIT auditorium? I saw the Man Utd vs Barca CL Final in 2009 in that Audi! 🙂

    6. I wish.. Well I’ll have to ask them if its the case, chances of which are very less as the Placement season is about to start and usually all the Audis will be booked at the time..

      Dude I wish I found the time to play @ IITB.. Pretty hectic stuff even now when the exams are done.. And another roadblock is that my classmates are not at all interested so thats a Bummer!

    7. That sucks!

      Well in that case, come to Juhu on Sunday mornings. 😛

      I used to find enough time for footie in my postgrad, but i had a group of football fanatics for company, and that surely helps.

      Well, good luck for your placements is all I can say. (which will be next year, i suppose)

  14. Sorry for my Ignorance, but What’s SAARC ?

    I’m I the only one who thinks we should have an Introduction post where everyone Introduces himself ? 😀

    1. no u r not the only one.i also feel that way.
      Regarding SAARC.it stands for south asian association for regional co operation consisting bangladesh,india,srilanka,pakistan,nepal,bhutan,maldives nd afghanistan.population wise its the largest regional organization.
      Diego,sabbir is here.a mechanical engineer living in bangladesh.thats a short intro of myself.

  15. barcastuff says messi never scrd or assited against a mou team in 7 attempts.i remember the 3 legs vs IM,1 vs CHELSEA in the rijkaard era,his debut against PORTO.wt bout the other 2 times?

  16. Well, looks like I’m watching on the TV, folks. No luck. Couldn’t even get into the site. Once I even got a page of HTML script! I had hoped that the new look site would have improved internals, but apparently not.

    And ticketmaster.es is the same cluster as ticketmaster.us. Ah, well. There will be many, many other Clasics.

    1. how much does an average ticket cost? I mean approx at the location you were seated in last time out?!

    2. Yep. And I just realized that I have one more shot. There’s a sale this afternoon of Seient Lliure seats that have been turned back by members, via ServiCaixa. But given the logjams at ticketmaster and the official site, I doubt that ServiCaixa will be any better. It’s the luck of the draw, really. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.

      I’m not all that bummed, it’s just that once you’ve experienced a Clasic, it’s like an amazing drug. You need it. The feel and atmosphere are astounding.

  17. Just to go into the box crashing argument again. To me it seems that what Villa is doing is the kind of thing a striker in ‘bad vibes’ does. I.E. to chose the easy option: ask for a put-back but never ever really believing in it. I guess if he got the ball on that play he would either kick it towards YAYA-land (being the stratosphere)or have it clumsily blocked by a Pana-defender. Should he have been in great form, he would make the run. Not concsciously but just instinctively.

    The other players like Pedro are also reacting to Villa’s positioning, hence him coming in (question why he stops his run is beyond me). In defence of señor David Villa is the way Pana marks him with not only one defender on his tail but also another one defending the zone which he has got to get into.

    1. I think there’s a difference between the two moves described above. In the first it’s fair to say that Messi surprised everyone by actually getting through those tackles. Villa, as soon as he sees it moves backwards ( quite quickly and correctly imo) to create an angle for the cutback as there is no ball on across the goal.

      In the second after Iniesta’s great vision there is no doubt that Adriano will get the ball across goal as there is nobody in the road. However, Messi has, as was correctly said, kept on running and gets the reward.

      It is a good point that our players mentally don’t seem to want to attack the box enough. I watched a Spurs goal in the CL last night and I counted 6 white jerseys in the box not counting the player who supplied the cross. That’s awesome and we need to start practising applying that sort of pressure in the box. I have to say the players who need to step up on this one are probably Xavi and Iniesta and its not often I suggest an improvement as far as they are concerned.

  18. I get kind of mad every time i re-watch this.Someone should always hang back deeper, but but noteveryone.SOMEONE needs to make the run.They should have llegadas brainwashed into them once every night before bedtime 🙂

  19. Hi All,

    This is y first post here though I am regular visitor.

    !00% agree with the post. Et’o used to score lot of tap ins from similar Messi runs and the closest player we have in our ranks in that regard is Bojan IMO.

    PS : You guys Rock and we will kick some white ass come Monday

    1. Hey as a fellow newcomer “welcome” etc

      And I respectfully disagree Eto’o was way more than a tap-in guy. He offered pace, guile, movement, shots from distance and versatility as a CF.
      He was, without a doubt, one of the best pure finishers ever at Barca and I rank him amongst the top 5 forwards to have ever played for us..

    2. Well I was referring to the specific case of box crashing. You can see it in the games from the Ronaldinho era where Messi was a full on RF. I never meant to say Eto’o is a tap in guy.

  20. hi , got no time to review all the comments to see if you brought this up , but attackers must be filling the box.
    Forget about the scoring chance they will probably get, the person that initiates the move , be it messi or iniesta will have less players on him since the lurking attackers will take players AND space off his path.Guaranteed.

    1. Ain’t that the truth. I reckon that Messi is so amazing that he even transforms his teammates into ball watchers! 😀

  21. Just so people know, we have something like a world map that shows who’s online at a given moments on this blog. It’s been here for a while now.

    On the right side of the page under “Categories”, there is a “Readers Online” with a grey icon with the number of people online (right now as I type this, there are 29 people online). If you click the icon, it’ll take you here:

    /http://whos.amung.us/stats/gfnmwp517dis/

    Scroll down the page and you’ll see where people are reading from. The flashing red stars indicate the people currently online.

    Cool, huh? Thanks Tarun for adding such a cool feature!

    1. ^Way too cool. There are two stars from my country, which means I’m not the only cule from our non football-loving nation. Yay! Thanks for the link!

    2. Two visitors for Male’, Maldives, one active (that’s me). Wonder who the second visitor is.

    3. I knew that…it shows only blips and beeps though. When we were invaded by Arsenal’s fans the ‘online now’ numbers were skyrocketing.

    4. So cool!

      Looks like someone is logging in from where seems to be well off the coast of western Africa–when you scroll over it, the location name is “unknown”–hmm…

      If you see Wilmington, United States on there, that’s me! And it’s Wilmington DELAWARE thankyouverymuch

    5. I am both Scarborough and Toronto, Canada, depending on whether I am at work or home.

      And I still want to know which person in here lives in Sudan?

  22. allas11 is the man. If people haven’t made check his channel a regular thing, start now. Love him.

    Oh, and it turns out that it’s really hard to think of good names (cheesy and cliche ones aside) for two of .gifs I have, but I thought of fictional dialog that goes with them. Ironically for me, the use of swear words work the best. (I like to avoid expletives when doing these kinds of things. Just because I like to think of something a little more clever…)

    Waiting for the first Morbo post to get some out.

  23. Wow, I didn’t even notice the movement of Villa when watching this live. I was probably stunned by Messi’s run 😀
    But seeing the replay, I seriously have to question: Can you imagine a more stupid move than the one Villa did there?
    Some weeks ago, I thought Villa had finally regained his shape, but recently he has made some step backwards, imo. Despite some assists, he didn’t score at Almeria and makes sooo many mistakes that cost us possible goals. At least, Ibra delivered in el Clasico. I’m not sure if Villa will do so :/

    1. ibra dis ibra dat… who is that man? nobody, even less than that for me. ibra delivered one single lucky goal in El CLasico ok but he could have perfectly not have done so. This what I talk about when I say “shut some mouths” poor villa he’s doing okay, he brings cool dynamics to our attack unlike that other tall nobody 😉 and I say he scores ok??? 😀 😀

    2. That’s because you want him to be okay. Right now, he is okay, but just so. He will improve, we should all assume. But as I’ve said before, Villa gets a head start. But from where I sit, he isn’t bringing a whole lot more than the previous tenant of that spearhead right now. It’s different, but it ain’t more.

      We all hope that will change.

  24. villa runs away from the goal to receive the pass ES UN DESMARQUE. for the “pase de la muerte”, death pass I guess… you can see his arms asking for the pass.

    1. Whereupon he will magically shoot through the defenders arrayed to ensure that precisely such a thing doesn’t happen. The reason that the likes of Messi can always get to the mouth of goal is because if you stop them, you risk fouling them, which means a penalty. So the best that a defender can do is hope to get in between the passer and the ball.

      By moving away from the goal, all that Villa has done is make his, and Messi’s life more difficult.

      Our flaw is that we don’t really have a striker. Yes, that hews somewhat to the notion of total football, but it sure helps to have that shark, roaming around the center of the pitch.

      As an aside, the only thing that pisses me off about the Ibrahimovic situation is that Milan is reaping the benefits of our fitness work on that SOB.

    2. What? But Ibra is constantly complaining about being out of energy and that he would need a rest soon – although he didn’t even play in the WC!
      Ibra doesn’t look like he gained some weight recently, so if he really is exhausted, that is unexplicable to me.

    3. Because with all the injuries to other players, he is pretty much carrying his whole team and doing all the offensive work. He is also playing with Sweden again, FWIW.

    4. He’s also fit, and scoring goals pretty much every Milan match. Some of that is a function of being the sole target man, but still. He’s tallied 11 goals for Milan in all competitions.

      Yes, I hope he roasts in a Blaugrana hell, it must also be said.

  25. In Era Eto’o RayRay once screeched that the Barça boxcrash was a ‘starburst’: coming at you front, right and center.

    Nowadays the box-bound ball seems to move laterally (i.e., Xaviniesta, Messi-Dani) or backwards (Messi-Xavi-Messi or Iniesta-whomever).

    Like finding chinks in the wall.

    But Villa still can deliver the long ball.

    For among our weaponry are such diverse elements as fear (Messi), surprise (Iniesta), ruthless efficiency (Xavi) … an almost fanatical devotion to Total TikiTaka. Oh, and those nice red and blue uniforms.

    Damn!

  26. I am watching the ucl game against arsenal at the camp nou and am oft unnoticed thing was how much keita was involved in attack and boy did some badass box crashing and also unfortunately its andy gray commentary, how much was that guy pro-arsenal..disgusting partisanship

    1. Speaking of replays, did anyone catch that GolTV in-depth hour-long highlight show from last year’s away Clasic? It was really good, with up close and personal camera angles. It felt a lot like that amazing Zidane documentary, in many ways.

  27. My Messi Theory: According to science, ‘Lefties’ work with the right side of the brain and ‘righties’ work with the left side of the brain. There are more brilliant Lefties than righties because there is an anomaly that usually occurs in this rule, where some lefties end up working with both sides of the brain. These individuals usually have more brain processing capacity than normal people. I believe Messi (and maradona) fall in this category. What he does with the ball is not supposed to happen. The presence of mind on that pull back and momentum pause in his run, milli-seconds before the defender slides right past him by the end-line just defies logic.

    As for Villa, Kxevin, you are either getting better and better in your analytical eye, or I just missed that ability in you, because this was a very good observation :).

    When the replays take place, I like to look at what other players are doing away from the action. There have been a few times I haven’t been too impressed by Villa. Like Ibra, he is caught ball watching way too often. Remember the amazing one-two’s between pedro and Messi for the goal against Villareal? Villa was just watching it unfold while strolling. Iniesta actually makes the run that Villa should have. His pass to Maxwell for the own goal against Almeria? He passed then essentially took himself out of the play by stopping instead of crushing the box.

    Like, Kxevin said, Eto’o used to fight a defender and hustle to get infront of the goalkeeper to squeeze that shot between the keeper and the post.

    His timing for breaking the offside trap was also excellent. Villa’s isn’t yet. I don’t know why, because strikers have a simple rule with that one, pick the last defender within your eyesight and stay onside of him. Villa never seems to pay attention to this. That’s why when Messi had a break away with Villa and Bojan against Almeria, Messi looked up, saw Villa, hesitated a bit, then changed direction towards Bojan and passed to him. Villa just didn’t look like he was paying attention to his positioning. It happened to Ibra when he was caught offside too often. Players start ‘helping’ you stay onside by not passing if they aren’t sure. And strikers never want anyone ‘helping’ them. They just want you to get them the ball and let them do the rest.

    Having said all that, let me just say, there is no striker out there that may be availlable to us, that is better than Villa. So I think Barcelona should get an expert to work with Villa on his positioning and movement. I remember Eto’o once saying that he was already a good striker, but he only became better when Henrik Larrson taught him the importance of ‘off the ball’ movement. So maybe they should hire him to work with Villa?

    1. We have already a man on the staff who perhaps was the best box crasher i have seen play for barça..none other than the b-team coach luis enrique..maybe lucho can teach villa that art?!

    2. Correction. For the offside trap, a striker should move behind a defender and place the defender between himself and the ball, forcing the defender to choose between paying attention to him or the ball, and stay onside of that defender or any others behind him, while making sure he is ready to take off when the pass is released

    3. Naaaah. I’ve been saying it a while, actually, when I’m not grumbling about his slow feet. Could this be another expensive striker that gets displaced by Krkic?

      Probably not, but the qualities that Krkic shows are qualities that Villa doesn’t (quick feet, quick mind, wants to attack the goal).

      Villa will definitely improve, though. It’s early, early days, folks. And I am an optimist. His feet won’t get any quicker, but he will compensate for that. Valencia’s system placed very different demands upon him than our system does.

    4. Thats why I love Bojan soo much. Those traits are hard to teach. Staying on your feet, being calm on the ball and not disappearing during games, that Bojan does are easier to teach. Once those come, he will simply be great.

    5. I still think he misses Henry more than anyone on the club. Is his tailing off and its parallel to the departure/decline of Henry a coincidence?

    6. Bojan definitely disappears in matches. maybe not when he’s on form. But if you look at Kevin’s reviews from the past two seasons there are plenty of disappearances

    1. Ich lerne Deutsch in meine Schuhe! Aber es ist nicht so schön weil mein Deutschlehrerin zu blod ist. 🙂

    2. Kein Ahnung.

      Ich kann etwas Deutsch sprechen da Ich habe die A1 Deutsch Prüfung gab. Ich will A2, aber leider die A2 Kurs hat kein Vakanz.
      Ist die Grammatik richtig?

    3. Ja, es ist fast richtig.
      “Ich kann etwas Deutsch sprechen, da ich die A1 Deutsch Prüfung habe (oder besser: bestanden habe)”
      “…, aber leider hat der A2 Kurs keine Vakanz”

      Wo kommst du denn her und wo wohnst du zur Zeit?

  28. This could be the best Clasico in years. Best Real Madrid team in years vs. Barca at its height, both with the stunning distinction of having scored twenty combined goals (one conceded) in the last two matches.

    1. AND I CAN’T GO!!!!

      Whew! Okay, that’s out of my system now. And I know that in any comfortable way that matters, it’s better to watch a match on a 58-inch plasma than in a seat at the Camp, surrounded by cap-wearing, stogie-puffin’ Catalan know-it-alls.

      But the atmosphere. I had never really understood what morbo felt like until the EE came out for warmups at the Camp last year, and you could actually feel the hate in the air. And loud? It was almost deafening at times. It should be on anyone’s “at least once” list. Yes, you have to be dog-lucky to get tickets, but man, is it worth it.

  29. TotalBarca has a nice article with quotes from the B Team players on El Clasico (probably taken from the official site). I like this one from Nolito:

    When asked if he’d like to be playing in the game, he replied: “I’d pay everything I earn just to play! Our role is to stay focused on our job though, which is to beat Betis this weekend and hope the first team players beat Madrid. I’ll be watching the game at home with my family, with my wife.”

    Read more: http://www.totalbarca.com/2010/news/barca-b-weighs-in-on-el-clasico/#ixzz16PyiVOce

    1. I think he could get tickets if he really wanted, but whether it’s policy or just by choice, B teammers don’t go to the games much unless they are in the preliminary match day squad and have been dropped the day of.

  30. What this video shows is that Messi is a great false 9, a great midfielder who can pass and dribble the ball through an opponents wall of defenders, a player who can stay on his feet with the ball forcing his opponents not to foul him, a man with a vision & creativity and also the ability to strike the ball into the goal. He’s versatile. He’s doing it all … he can handle Xavi’s, Iniestas, Villa’s & Pedro’s duties. That’s what makes Messi so great and his skill set at that moment was a magnifying glass to show exactly how inept (in comparison) Villa and Pedro are in accomplishing the one skill they are asked to perform by Messi at that moment – which was to position themselves for the pass.

  31. i poached this from tim stannard’s prediction post today. hilarious.

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DwjERJemCM&feature=player_embedded

    in other news, rafa marquez will be a commentator for espn deportes during el clasico.

    been in vegas for a bit, catching up on 8-0 wins & champions league strolls in the park. pumped for el clasico, the last day of my vacation!

  32. That’s it. I officially give up. Had a ticket. Second level on the fans’ side, about mid-pitch ….

    and the system is having payment processing complexities. Tried three cards, all good, and none were accepted. I did get the friendly “Sorry, we’re working on it, though.”

    It just wasn’t meant to be. Who, oh who have I wronged, Blaugrana gods! Bojan Krkic is the greatest player EVAH! And David Villa is our most excellent, bestest signing EVAH.

    (Now should I try?) 😀

    1. LOL! You forgot “Rosell is the best club president EVAH!”

      That might work, but you’d probably choke on it. 😀

  33. I found this interesting quote from Michael Laudrup in an article discussing his switch from Barcelona to Real Madrid:

    “I’d tried everything and, under Johan Cruyff – the most important coach I ever played for – we won everything. I heard stories I’d fallen out with Cruyff, that other things happened, but none of it was true, none of it was behind my reason for leaving.

    “There was another issue – the 1994 World Cup in USA. Barca had nine players in the Spanish squad plus Ronald Koeman, Hristo Stoichkov and Romario, all going to the US.

    “I knew from experience that the season after can be difficult if you have a lot of players who have been to the World Cup, with injuries and so on. So I thought, this is the moment to leave.”

    We have a similar situation this year, of course, with players in the NTs of Spain, Argentina, Brazil, and France. And it is true that our first few games of the season were less than convincing, with fatigue and Xavi’s injury being a factor. We seem to have gotten over that for the most part. Still I don’t think I really understand Laudrup’s mindset. To leave a winning team just at the moment you think they might need you most and go to their bitterest rival simply because you want a change. There must be more ti it than that.

    I was actually looking for information on Luis Enrique’s switch from RM to Barcelona. Perhaps someone more informed than I could compare and contrast the situations of these two? Or provide a link to somewhere with in-depth analysis?

    If anyone wants to read the full article, it is at:

    *http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/europe/8342725.stm

    1. Bullsh*t, IMO.

      “To leave a winning team just at the moment you think they might need you most and go to their bitterest rival simply because you want a change. There must be more ti it than that.”

      …is exactly what I think. ITA.

  34. To get the Morbo started, a preview by commercial:

    Barca or EE?

    /http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvXyeG_ZExQ

Comments are closed.