A Question of Time: The Zlatan Ibrahimovic Story

Please: 0.40

Put it a different way: 11-1.

Those numbers are, of course, from a very small sample, but would you take those numbers as a ratio for the entire season? I would because I know that the first one is Ibrahimovic’s current scoring rate (5 appearances, 2 goals) and the second goal is our total goals scored to goals allowed. Feel free to extrapolate that to how many goals would be scored in an entire year: 16 goals for Ibra if he makes 40 appearances, 113.67-10.33 in a 62-game season.

My point is, of course, that we need to take a moment to look at the overall picture, the picture that keeps in mind not the price paid for a particular player, but the value of that player within the greater framework of our club and our club’s future. Yes, we’ve had some “funky” displays over the last few games, but during those “funky” displays, we’ve successfully won five out of six matches and we drew the other one. We’ve allowed one goal. We’ve scored 11 from six different players. We’ve incorporated a major new piece of the total footballing puzzle and have been attempting to change our tactical approach in every match. This is not a momentary effort, a light switch that goes from off to on.

No pressure or anything…

It is very easy to compare last year’s team with this year’s team, but that kind of a comparison is a fool’s errand, I think, simply because these are two different teams. Note that in all of our matches so far we’ve rotated more in the midfield, never really becoming stagnate in terms of positioning.

More numbers: 19-26.

Those are, and I’m sure most of you recognized those numbers immediately, Thierry Henry’s goal scoring numbers from his first and second years. Just think that for every goal that Ibrahimovic scores that bests his career average of 0.44 goals per appearance (a goal every 2.28 appearance*), we’re being given a freebie, in essence. His average goal-scoring year is 16.4 goals in 37.3 game season** so if he adjusts correctly and gets 40 appearances with us, he should score 17 or 18 goals during that time. He’s already got 2 in 3 regular season appearances, so he’s well on his way.

Of course, replacing a 25-plus-goal per season striker (Samu) with a 15-goal per season striker sounds like bad business unless you can effectively add more goals over the course of the season via assists and whatnot. So far our first six matches have returned 11 goals to 1, as I said earlier, an average of 1.83 goals per game. That is below last year’s average of 2.53 goals per match, but better than the 1.10 goals allowed per game last year (58 in 63). Put that in your Pythagorean Expectation pipe and smoke it: 113.02 estimated points to 95.88 estimated points with the higher goals for ratio. That means more domination in the league, not less. Now, obviously this particular streak will end when we’re scored on, but we’re currently looking at another very good season and working towards fluency between the various levels (defense, midfield, offense).

I’m not here to praise or condemn Ibra–I was fairly disappointed with his performance against Inter, but Hector makes a good point that perhaps Xavi and Keita should have crashed the box more–but I am here to point out that we’ve got a striker on our hands that has already proven his worth in the league and was put into what amounts to a cauldron of burning oil when he was thrown into the San Siro so early in his Barça career. It was his fifth game. Before we start to break down his goals per euro cost (€23m per goal!), we should look at the overall value to the side, which might also include future returns on investment (if he scores 20 goals per season for 5 seasons and gets 200 appearances, then he’ll be infinitely worth it, right?) as well as assists. He’s gotten 2 assists already this year (both to Messi), so don’t compare just his goal scoring, but also to the total goals scored while he’s on the field.

There is a lot of season left and we will have 3 more Liga games under our belt before Dynamo come to town, so pay attention to how we use all of our players during that time, not just Ibra. I expect Iniesta’s re-emergence to greatly facilitate the goal scoring as well, so expect a rise in that over the coming weeks. There is infinitely better understanding between Messi and Ibra than there was a few weeks ago, something I attribute to their time on the field together. Henry and Ibra will develop a better understanding and Ibra will start to crash the back post more (he’s still thinking there will be a header when it turns out his teammates have the ability to get the ball on the ground across the box and he’s not used to that, I wouldn’t think). And then the goals will come. And then Ibra will settle in and people whill cheer him and it willb e wonderful.

I’m all for criticism, but let’s make it fair. Ibra lost a lot of service when Henry went off against Inter because Iniesta wasn’t put out on the left as most of us would have expected. Guardiola instead went with an extra midfielder, in a sense creating a 3-1-5-1 with the midfield being composed of Keita-Iniesta-Xavi-Messi-Alves.  So Ibra was 1 v 3 most of the time, with 1 v 2 being his typical allotment of defenders. If he stands in a corner and has 2 defenders on him, how is that not beneficial to us? It is because it causes a general imbalance everywhere else. So when he slides to the upper corner of the box and drags two defenders with him, that isn’t being lazy, it is giving our skill players a chance to play 2 v1 somewhere else. As I said before, I thought Ibra was very meh and I was disappointed, but I was more disappointed with his finishing than anything else. The same could be said for Messi, Alves, and Keita. Again, let’s just keep these things in perspective.

*I would much rather have goals-per-minute, but that stat is not readily available, so I will stick with per appearance simply because, given a large enough sample, all of this evens out.

** I took all of Ibra’s season that he had 25 or more appearances (there were 9 of them accounting for 336 appearances and 148 goals, which is a 0.44 goals-to-appearances ratio.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. Wow!
    The stats part took lot of time for me to understand LOL Im must be some dumbass… But yeah the analysis part on yesterday’s match is spot on!
    cheers 🙂

  2. Nice comments, but I feel it’s much too early to judge at the moment the overall impact of Zlatan on the team as of yet. As long as he performs adequately, (20 or so goals plus 10 assists is reasonable I feel) then there can’t be too much more to ask of Zlatan. Give him this year to adjust, leeway and the like. I too feel he could have contributed more against Inter, but as you said, this being the 5th game he has played for Barça, I am much more relaxed on his decision making and contributions thus far. Now if he doesn’t score for the next 10 games, then obviously there’s something wrong, but as long as he continues to contribute. . .if even only with a goal and an assist every other game and does little else, I’ll be pleased. He has to reinvent himself here at Barça and we should afford him the grace of doing so.

    1. You’re very right that we can’t adequately measure Ibra’s impact yet. Things will change, probably dramatically, over the course of the year.

      I would caution, however, that judging him as a failure (or saying there is “something wrong”) if he doesn’t score for 10 games is the wrong way to go about it if the team concept isn’t applied. If he’s given 80 chances 1v1 on the keeper in that time and doesn’t score, then yes, something is wrong; if he gets no chances on goal, then yes, something is wrong. But that something might not be his doing in the latter example.

      As long as we’re fair about this, we won’t have a repeat performance of the Henry bashing that I think, in retrospect, was unfair and overly negative. Henry did well last year, after all. And yes, I know I led some of that Henry bashing.

  3. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch the match on regular sized TV, but I’m not too worried about Ibra. He needs time to fully incorporate himself into the team, not everyone is like Alves (who can still have crappy matches). I think there’s extra pressure on him because of the price tag and the Eto’o comparisons.

    I would have preferred a 1-1 tie rather than a 0-0 tie, but I’m not too bothered by yesterday’s result. It was the first match in the Champions league and I think its safe to say that no other ‘top’ team had an opponent that matches up to the caliber of Inter.

    Let’s see what the team looks like in the next few matches.

  4. Yeah I guess I can cut the guy some slack… He just comes across as a lazy, static centre forward in the berbatov.. brimming with talent and could explode into life anytime but for large parts static!

    The first chance he got was difficult no doubt but there was a touch of arrogance and show boating that was evident. There’s no doubt he’s going to gel sooner rather than later though because class is permanent and he’s got oodles of it. can’t wait!!

  5. If there is one sport where statistics mean absolutely nothing, it’s soccer. :). A striker can give you 25 goals a season, but if you look at the numbers, they wont be evenly distributed over the games, therefore its hard to predict what will happen.

    For me, like I said in the previous post before I got hectored, I like to see strikers that constantly put themselves in threatening positions or are constantly working to unlock the opposition. All strikers miss good chances, but if you did what you were supposed to do when you got the ball, then I respect that. This is what I’m waiting to see from Ibra when he is fully fit.

    1. I must defend statistics! I must! I must!

      They aren’t meaningless, they are merely not compiled in the same way. Naturally they must be taken as suggestive rather than significant in their own right. This isn’t baseball after all (Hi inNYC!).

      What they show me, however, is that the game can be read in many different ways. Is a team that scores fewer goals but concedes even fewer than a previous iteration a better team? Is it more effective? Statistics help us to understand some of that and help us to quantify things that we were otherwise unable to fully appreciate.

      For those of you who are new here (welcome!), my statistical posts are not designed to provide significant answers to questions (Is the 4-3-3 better than the 4-4-2?, for instance), but rather to provide at least some context to what we’ve seen put forward. I am by no means infallible when it comes to these stats and I hope that people will continue to help me out by suggesting newer and better ways to track things (including ceasing tracking certain things).

      I need to design better spreadsheets to track all this stuff…hmm…I should do a chart showing how particular players do against upper and lower tier teams relative to their points per appearance (or % of points earned in each appearance). Yeah. I just said that.

    2. Espnsoccernet provides very good stats about players from big clubs… like no. of shots taken, on target shots, no. of fouls committed, yellow cards… You already might be knowing. Just so others know 🙂

    3. What about charts showing what type of beer I drink versus how many points the team earns?

      I do know about the soccernet stats, but I find them to be somewhat shaky in that “shot on target” means different things to different people, as does “assist”. Still, yes, I take their notes into consideration.

    4. I’m not really an authority on baseball stats, I only know the basics plus that 1) baseball offense is a lot more quantifiable than in almost any other sport and 2) I really do not need to know what has happened most often in the past when Josh Beckett scratches his ass with a runner on second and nobody out in a month ending in Y while the moon is waning, as baseball announcers are so fond of informing me (to use my pet example).

      In hockey they use the simple +/- total (goals scored-allowed while the player is on the ice) and it can tell you a lot but that doesn’t work in soccer ’cause they don’t shift on and off regularly like they do in hockey. Anyhoo, I was disappointed in this game with some of the missed opportunities, but I think Ibra is still working out when he’s supposed to be a target and when he’s supposed to be putting the priority on moving his BANGS ass. Not that the two are mutually exclusive. I’m not that worried…yet.

  6. I’m reminded of my friend’s response when I asked him about his team’s (Chelsea) chances this season. “Ask me again in January.”

    We can crunch all the numbers we want (and by ‘We,’ i mean ‘Isaiah’ because math is not exactly my forte!) but, we have no clear idea what will happen in the next few matches, let alone, the next few months. Still, statistics are useful in painting a probable picture at the very least and for that reason they are worth considering.

    1. Agreed — if you take a large enough body of work (in this case Ibra’s career) you get a better understanding of what’s possible. That he has scored almost exactly 0.44 goals per appearance in every moment of his career is fairly indicative, to me, that he’s worth 0.44 goals per appearance.

      Whether that translates, as bill suggests, to more or fewer goals and more or fewer assists with with Barcelona is basically impossible to say. That’s why I’m preaching patience.

      Naturally I’ll call him a lummox the next time he misses a sitter, though.

  7. Here’s the thing about Ibrahimovic: Remember what people were saying about Henry at the end of his first season? And what happened by the end of his second season?

    Our attack is based in movement, aggression and intricacy. It’s all triangles, one-touch passing and flow. I don’t care how good you are, you don’t just slot into that kind of a system, one not played by any other club in the world, and shine.

    We are going to give up some points, and probably grab some points that we didn’t deserve. That’s part of a football season. If you look at the talent, for example, we could go undefeated in the Liga this season. But as we all know, that isn’t going to happen, because players have good games and bad games. It’s what makes Xavi so astounding to me. He hardly ever has a bad match.

    Ibra will learn. But we will also have to learn to play with him. We can’t do the same things that we did with Eto’o, then say “He isn’t working out.” It will take time. And I would argue that, with his drawing 2-3 defenders wherever he goes, Ibra is helping the offense even when he’s shit.

    It was why Henry always had so much space to play into. Same with Messi. Inter said “No way Ibrahimovic beats us. No. Way.”

    We are going to (probably) get fewer goals than we got with Eto’o, but many more assists, because that’s how Ibrahimovic seems to be playing in our system right now.

    We’ll see.

    1. The question is more or fewer total goals, I think. And I think that with better possession (and Ibra does help us retain possession as compared to Samu–I think that much I’m willing to say already) we allow fewer goals. And even if we score fewer too, we’re still going to be better in the end if we allow fewer (1 fewer in either the Villarreal or Atleti games at the end of the season and we’re champs weeks earlier).

      Chygnasty can’t help but improve on that as well, I think.

  8. I hate the Tony Mowbray bitch more than may be I hate CRonaldo… I don’t understand whats wrong with that bloody loser!! Crosas got to play only 110 minutes this season, not given chance even in the Europa League!! For a manager who claims his principle is to play only beautiful football, he must be crazy not to use a Barcelonista, who’s been the best youth player of their previous season and who proved to be the best partner for their main play-maker!!!

    1. Was kinda hoping he’d come back a success and there won’t be any more Cesc talk… After seeing Busquets matured so much, I thought, yeah would be great if Crosas comes back and be a very good team-player at least if not the starter with youngsters so promising in JDS & Thiago coming up… But don’t see that happening with that Mowbray handling things at Celtic. I hope he’s sacked as early as possible, he’s not realizing what a talent he’s wasting.
      Or may be they devised a plan to hold on to him for themselves & prevent us from getting back our talent 😛

  9. About last match, I think that if Yaya was beside Xavi instead of Keita, it would have been a different story. I like Keita, but unlike Keita, Yaya is afraid to move the ball forward, whether that is passing or making runs. He made to brilliant runs towards the end of the first half yesterday, something that Keita failed to do all match. Keita seemed too scared of making that incisive forward pass, something that Yaya likes to do when he gets near the box. Yaya is not afraid of holding onto the ball, waiting for some movement, then passing it off. Keita was giving too much of the responsibility to Abidal yesterday, and couple that with a lackluster Henry and our left side was like a black hole.

    I really want Yaya to play beside Xavi next time Iniesta is out, but I think that in order for that to happen, Busquets needs to show that he can hold down the fort. No diving, flailing b.s. If he shows he is mature of enough for that, then and only then, will Yaya get the chance to play in a more advanced position like he plays for Ivory Coast, I think.

  10. Zlatans misses last night don’t worry me. I tell you what would have worried me, going 90 minutes without creating any chances for him. That would have worried me and away from home, against such a good team defensively, it was perfectly possible. It fills me with a lot of confidence that he did get the chances, that so early on and already there seems to a growing understanding between him and both Messi and Xavi…our key assist makers. He will score goals, that never worried me, what worried me was whether or not he would fit in and so far so good, so I am happy. Not sure if anybody noticed, but he also made a quite ludicrous back heel pass between 3 inter defenders which was about half an inch away from catching Messi on the chest inside the box, clear of all the defenders. Things like that really make me hopeful..

  11. I want to add one thing about Zlatan, I noticed that he is used a lot as wall to bounce passes off of right outside the box. I’m sure you have all noticed that. I think Zlatana needs to hold control and turn more than he does. For example, at the very end of the first half against Inter Zlatan received a pass at the top of the box and there was literally a huge 15 yard hole clear to the goal behind him, but he never saw it because he quckly flicked the pass right back out. All the Ibra videos I have seen on youtube, mayne shots are outside the box and have amazing power and accuracy, I have not seen him take more than 1 or 2 shots outside the box…. he needs to take many more of those…..dammit

    1. I know exactly some of the goals you are referring to Alex, but that is a confidence thing. Right now he is finding his feet in a team filled with superstars. He seems to understand the teams philosophy of moving the ball quickly and using everybody’s movement, so i think he is trying to suss that out first before he tries to turn defenders himself and make a goal out of nothing. He is certainly capable and I hope to see him trying it sooner, rather than later, but I can certainly understand why he hasnt really tried something like that yet.

  12. Here is the Keita attorney; you knew its coming right? 😀

    Apologies, for this is probably going to be little long. And not exactly an Ibra issue as the article here demands.

    I will not evaluate Keita performance against Inter, as this is to be kept subject to opinions. Instead I will explain my point regarding Pep decision not to substitute him (which means feeling that he is doing his job for the team). I read a lot since the game ended about Keita humble performance and that he was not adding anything to the team and must have been substituted. I think explaining this point hit two targets using one arrow: 1) shed some light on the imbedded tactical stitches behind Keita job description –basically against Inter. And 2) Defending Pep decision to keep the player on the field. As in my opinion, the only players who were possible to be substituted so Iniesta gets in were Ibra and Henry. I was not sure whom Pep will take off but the two options were valid. Keita was not an option to substitute, not for a moment. Tactically He was as crucial in this game as Messi, Xavi and Yaya. Why?

    Football tactical build up is classified on three stages (spread them along the three thirds of the field if you like, that’s valid most of the time): Defence, Build up, and Offense. I usually add defensive transition to that when the team is on the quest to regain possession.

    Keita direct contribution offense wise was negligible for a first glance. First because of his role on the field, he is a tactical player with a role that varies by game. I mentioned this in one of my first articles at the beginning of last season: While evaluating Yaya its easy to measure performance based on a well known role as a defensive mid. The same goes for Xavi, he is the midfield maestro with a standard role, so it’s simpler to figure out to what extend he did his job. With Keita, it’s different, as first there is a need to define his job for a certain game then judge the performance based on that. So what was exactly his role against Inter? Will come to that later. Secondly, what made Keita direct contribution in the offense flow unclear was the selection for this game (I am not against it, as it serve more crucial targets). Putting him in the midfield with henry on the flank creates some “identicalli-ty” when it comes to offense inputs. Offense-wise, both are not the best checking wide on the flank, while both are great the more they approach the box and when they penetrate inside. It’s not the case when you have Iniesta-Henry combination, or Keita-Iniesta. Because Iniesta can check the flank whether he move there starting from midfield allowing Henry to cut in, or when he plays on the flank with Keita penetrating into the box. Of course Keita-Henry combination worked before, but never against teams of high quality players applying intelligent defensive structure, like Inter.

    Alright, doesn’t that mean it was better to substitute him and create an Iniesta-Henry offense combination? True if we only take the offense-stage of the tactical structure in consideration. But that’s not the case normally, and it will never be the case when you play against Italy champions in Milano. What can Iniesta deliver to the build up and defensive transition that the team failed to offer with Keita in this game?

    1) Possession? Anyone felt that we had problems when it comes to ball circulation and controlling possession? I didn’t feel it.

    2) Defensive quality? Iniesta is not better defensively than Keita. Especially against Inter-type of midfield.

    3) Iniesta can dribble and dazzle creating spaces for the forwards. But not through midfield., Because it means either forcing Henry to stay on the flank with Ibra alone in the box (while not being in his day) or Henry)who wasn’t in a better day as well) penetrates to the box as well with no one to check the left flank so instead of stretching the field, we squeeze it. He can only serve by opening to the flank, leaving Xavi alone to control ball circulation? Not against Inter. They will directly put tight man marking on him, breaking our offense cornerstone.

    In return, Pulling Keita out of the field means conceding a goal. Simply put. Keita role was to handle the Defensive cover when the team performs the build up shifting toward offense.

    Defensive cover is mostly noted by the number of players operating Behind the ball when the team moves forward. Inter played with two dynamic forwards who are capable of exhausting and freezing our defence trio, by keeping them busy. Usually you can expect one of the two forwards to dance between Puyol and Pique, and the other to dance between Pique and Abidal. Snjeider was Yaya’s guy. In this case if the rest of barcelona players move forward in front of the ball, any loss of possession means a dangerous counter through Maicon, Montari and Zanetti. Specially taking in consideration the week defensive contribution of the offense trio for Barcelona in that game. Playing Keita Behind the ball means closing the spaces in the midfield, but most importantly (and put two lines under what follows), It delayed Inter primary pass to be placed deeper after earning back possession. That’s not something to be seen, but to be felt. If you play with Keita or a substitute in front of the ball, the moment you lose possession Inter will be able to do the best thing historically they were capable of since Herrera, generating counters! When Inter gained back the ball, their players movement up to the middle third was checked by Barcelona players who operated as defensive cover, forcing Inter players either to play long balls toward their marked forwards, or nonsense clearance toward the baseline, or exchanging passes in their own territory offering Barcelona players (Messi, Ibra??, Henry, Xavi and Alves) the chance to put the pressure not only once, but continuously at Inter own half. When you play a role like that (Keita role), the less visible you are may (though not necessarily) mean the better you are performing. How? Simply because If you check the spaces/players well, the ball will not be played to them, it will be moved to another spots and the cam will follow that ball to the points where you are not performing. You can see Keita awareness regarding his role the moment inter break through the Initial pressure toward the midfield, the first event they meet is a Keita tackle or contribution sandwiching the player in possession with the help of a teammate (Yaya mostly).

    The team was controlling the second half, and a goal was a possibility all the time. Why risking a tactical structure that was clicking, especially away from home? Keeping in mind that Mourinho was aware of the “vacuum tunnel” I mentioned many times before which is located between Barcelona Offense and the defence where Yaya alone wouldn’t be a sufficient cover against quality teams playing counters. What made it more difficult against Inter is that they played two forwards instead of one, so they cancelled the possibility of using one Barcelona defender as a DM beside Yaya when the team moves forward while two defenders mark and cover the lone striker. Montari low output didn’t help Mou, he later made substitutions to fix this defect. Pep was good realizing and reading the game this time. While seeking a goal, he made sure to prevent Inter strategy from clicking. Credit for the two coaches for that strategic battle.

    1. Oh, I don’t think that anyone is questioning Keita’s worth to the defensive effort. Iniesta for Henry was a good substitution, given what the match had turned into. My two issues with Keita’s performance were his general invisibility as part of the offense, and wayward long shooting.

      But as I suggested in comments running up the match, I figured he would play for the precise reasons that we all saw yesterday: midfield command and control.

      Which doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have been able to create chances by moving forward. Whenever he did, good things happened.

    2. So, does this imply that we should always play with Keita as a second DM when facing ultra-defensive, counter-attacking top notch teams?
      Maybe, as this was only group stage, Pep could have risked a little bit more and substituted Keita for an offensive mid (either Iniesta or Pedro). I think that Pep would actually have substituted Iniesta for Keita(!) if Iniesta had been fit.
      But it’s obvious that Iniesta is maybe at 60%, and that’s not enough against the likes of Internazionale Milan.
      Taking this into account, you have convinced me that Pep did the right decision, plus I liked your argument of “the more invisible he seemed, the better he was”. Nice comment!

    3. As I mentioned in my last comment down, Keita was playing behind the ball, but not as a DM. Is this they way it has to go everytime we play an ultra-defensive team? No. Or else, changing Eto’o for Ibra will be meaningless. It was more important last season to do this trick against such teams than it was now.

      But it is still another valid option. Actually its not the best option as the best two options are either Iniesta-Henry, or Keita-Iniesta. In my long comment I explained why the Keita-Henry is not the most appropriate, unless if Keita actually play as a second DM with Maxwell and Alves checking the flanks together as fullbacks.

      I do think that Keeping Keita was independent of Iniesta fitness level for this game. Was it possibly that Iniesta start instead of keita if he was fully fit? May be. And it will mean lot of tactical changes that I can only judge when I see, not based on “if” condition. But when Pep desided to go for this tactical strategy, he knew it will be the standard structure for this game. As a coach you need to be aware who far you can change the game approach within the game. You can do changes, but you only make a radical change like the one substituting Keita demands when your back is to the wall, so you have no choice but taking the risk. It wasnt the case in the second half of this game. Actually iniesta performance when he was in proved how dangerous it would have been if he was handed the midfield responsibility while he was obviously not in form.

      To answer your question, against teams with two forwards like Eto’o and Milito, and an attacking mid rouming behind, this is the best game approach I can think of, the way Pep played his cards. You can put busquets in Keita place if you like, but thats how it has to be. With Henry or Iniesta playing on the flank, based on who plays on the leftback.

  13. Isaiah, I don’t think ratios are accurate since we have only played 5 games. Just think, if one of those getafe shots that hit the post went in the net, that 11-1 to 1 ratio gets halved.

    1. True, but even ratios 30 games into the season can be worthless. Look at EE losing to us each time last season. I know before the second clasico they were on a tear, putting pressure on us, but after we destroyed that imperial star destroyer, they just sucked the remaining games. Statistics are vital in the world, for they give you an ESTIMATE on what to expect. Even five games in, Isaiah’s stats provide an interesting insight. With more good or bad luck, our goal totals could look like 6-1, 6-5, 16-1, 16-6. Who knows. Valid points from both sides.

  14. Goal.com quote of the day

    “Roma could not continue the bright start to their Claudio Ranieri era as Basel swept them aside 2-0 in the Europa League group stages. The Swiss took the lead through Carlitos before grabbing an insurance goal right at the death…”

    Since when is 2 losses and a draw a “bright start”?

  15. I think everyone needs to relax. We are less than one month in a very looooooooong season. I’m glad we didn’t score six goals yesterday. I’m glad we’re not at top form right now. No reason to peak too early. The goals will come. Ibra will learn how to fit in better. Everyone will gradually become more in shape and match ready. As long as we are not losing everything is fine.

    And I really feel we need to stop worrying about how many goals Ibra scores. I don’t care if he scores 50, all that matters is SILVERWARE. Sure him scoring a lot increases our chances, but that will come in time. Can you imagine coming into a system as developed and distinct as Barca’s, with no previous experience of something like it and expect to pick it up like it’s nothing? Almost comparable to trying to learn Catalan in a week! Even just now we are finally beginning to see Ronaldo get more use to whatever horrible thing they got going on in the evil empire (mind you playing against FC Zurich makes scoring a lot easier).

    So let us relax, watch as the squad gels together, and learns how to really play beautifully together. Plenty of time, plenty of talent, and Pep is our coach. We’re all good for now. The goals will come, and methinks they’ll be coming in bulk once Ibra, Iniesta, Henry, and all the others are in top form.

  16. True Kevin, but because his role was being a player who operate behind the ball, he wasnt supposed to contribute offensively as expected (and evaluated). Of course he blasted some balls out of order, and he did some positioning mistakes defense wise. But for his role against Inter, he has to be evaluated for his role, as being a key player for the build up and defensive cover, rather than for the threat he created in the last third, as he wasnt supposed to.

    Regarding Ibra, the first realistic evaluation for me will be in January.

    1. Not really two DM because it is not nessassary that every player envolved in defensive cover during build up has to operate as a DM just because he is most often behind the ball. And it wasn’t the case in this game as well. Yet, being humble enough even when my team is in its good football cycle, I prefer to put it this way:

      “We played cleverly and earned one point against a strong team away from home. In a game that could have gone both ways, This would have been easily 3 points for us if the forwards scored the clear chances they got”

      I understand all the praise for the best team in the world at the moment. But, at least for me, we are not the one and only. Still there are great teams in Europe that deserve respect. Against one of these teams we dominated the game, created our chances that it was the forwards job to score, not a midfielder with tactical role who was supposed to make or break when it come to scoring.

      We can not demand more scoring chances, possession, and domination against a team like Inter away from home. But if the forwards are not in their day, then that’s the way it goes. This is the champions’ league.

      Again, Their are players who were supposed to score, they didn’t. There were players who were supposed to protect our back so we don’t get conceded, and they did their job. I am ok with the result, but if only a win was the acceptable result, I know where to put the blame (though I don’t).

      More offense role for Keita (or any sub) would have meant a big possibility (I consider as certainty) to get conceded without guarantying scoring. Credit to Pep, he was aware of that, and managed a perfect tactical game in my books using the best options and sticking to the best performers on the field. That’s the gain I am mostly glad about after this game, as last season tactical reactions and game readings while failing to score early got me nervous many times. I saw great improvement in this aspect. We played a tactical game that improved what we lacked last season without compromising the quality of offense. If there is a chance to repeat last season success, this is the right way through continuous improvement.

      Noting that, through my argument I was neither praising nor criticizing Keita performance in that game. In my opinion he had the ups and downs. But basically I am pointing out that Pep was right not to substitute him, and that I wouldn’t evaluate Keita in this game based on how many times he caused Inter keeper a heart attack, it was not his job.

  17. Helge, the “comments reply” option is nice, but sometimes its hard to notice a reply as I am more used to track comments sequence downward, I didnt notice your reply there. Just saw your question there and replied.

    1. No problem, Ramzi. I’ve seen your reply immediately because I expected an answer 😉 Thanks

      But you’re right, back on the offside I only checked the last comments on the bottom of the page, now that you can reply to a specific comment, I catch myself more and more often checking all the interesting comments where I could expect an interesting, well-founded reply. This costs more time, but that’s the prize you have to pay, I suppose. Someone asked if one could automatically place the latest comment on the bottom of the page. I don’t know if it suits the argumentative structure and the general development of the comments (because if some people are heavily discussing on a topic, and another one starts a new topic/question, this might vanish pretty fast). Nevertheless, it could be worth a try if technically possible.

  18. My view on the Keita business is that Fanzine is spot on in his analysis, but I think that the great thing about the Guarsiola system is the freedom that it gives its puzzle pieces. Keita had a very clear role, but chose to interpret it with insufficient flexibility. Just as Pique knows when to push up and become an attacker, Keita should have sensed that the match was calling for a more frequent reinterpretation of his role. Unless he was under more rigid strictures from Guardiola. I liked some of what he did. But I think that our system places tremendous individual responsibility upon a player, and said players need to be fearless in playing those roles. That, to me, is where Keita came up short.

  19. I do not know what Fanzine means anyway.

    You have a point regarding players need to be creative. Yet I will criticize Keita harshly and without a limit if his creative approach to move forward bounced back a counter attack and a conceded goal. More than you are criticizing him for not being that adventurous in this game.

    Especially in this kind of games, players need to make sure first that their basic responsibilities are well done because it’s a match that stands on “little things”. Unlike playing against teams with less quality, mistakes are irreversible through offense potentials (if conceded one, we still score 5).

    Yet, I understand the romantic approach to football. I have it to some extend (though not as before), I learned the hard way in this game: “the sweetest romance is being pragmatic, so you survive as a coach to write your fairy tales”.

    Note: Romantic approach in football is an actual approach (not something I came up with), so its not an offending terminology by any mean, as there are quality football figures who work for it. Mainly in Netherlands, Brazil, and Argentina (Valdano is one of the well known).

    Again, I can fully understand the other face of the coin.

    Thats what happens when I have a day off. I make attempts to break the blogging commenting reccord!

  20. comment away Ramzi, I learn more about tactics from your comments.btw what do you think of Chygnasty from the Getafe performannce.

  21. LOL yes I’ve already seen it. I don’t understand any Spanish, but still it was hilarious 😀

    I was wondering what the hell is going on with those sheep, and why does Chygnasty “speak” like Chewbacca? 🙂

  22. So wait. All of a sudden it’s acceptable for a 40 million-euro striker to score fewer than 20 goals a season? No. Not at all.

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