Sunday, April 22, 2007

Barca v Getafe report (and that goal)

Why the lack of posts? Well, uni is rather trying to kill me even in the middle of holidays, and there hasn't been much to cheer about. Until this past week.

In football commentary there are two schools of thinking about goals scored. The first is something I rather dislike, and the awesome Michael Robinson puts it best:
[Alan] Hansen thinks every goal that's ever been scored is a defensive error, because when you don't understand football, you can stop a tape anywhere running up to a goal and find a rick. But everybody makes an error.
The other is best represented by those Spaniards or South Americans you hear on goal videos, shouting and screaming and going crazy with love for the game.

Sometimes, it's good to be critical. But occasionally if you are, you just sound like a spoilsport in the worst way, ruining the moment when everyone else is gawking like little kids and enjoying the hell out of it.


This goal (DailyMotion link) is one of those occasions. Watch, and gawk, and enjoy.

Copa del Rey semi-final first leg: Barca 5-2 Getafe

-----------------Jorquera
Zambrotta--Marquez--Puyol--Gio
------------------Iniesta
---------Xavi--------------Deco
Messi-------------------------Eto'o
---------------Gudjohnsen

I've actually been sitting on a massive post about young Lionel Messi ever since El Clasico. Maybe I'll actually finish it soon. But anyway, he's getting lots of airtime and fair enough, after that goal and that performance. He's one of those players who can disappear for most of a game, but still end up dominating it because of his ability to pop up at critical moments and get in that pass, or score that goal. That's what Messi did in the first half of this game - he ran the Barca attack up front without ever actually imposing himself on the game.

(That's not a criticism, by the way, just an observation of his style.)

What can I say about that goal? There's no need to compare it to any other, really, because when something that good comes along, you owe it to yourself to just sit back and admire. The thing that impresses me most, even more than his absurdly good technique and insane pace, is the audacity of it. Messi has been kicked and hacked at so much since his professional career began, but he's still absolutely fearless on the pitch. You have to believe that you can do something like that first, before it becomes possible for you. (Check out the gobsmacked reactions of his team mates to the goal.) And Messi's got that.

Other than that, I also wanted to mention that he also did good work tracking back, as did all the others who inhabited the frontline, even if some of them aren't very good at defending (Sammy Eto'o, I'm looking at you).

general team play

I was actually pretty impressed by our performance overall, especially in the first half. That was pretty much how I want Barca to play, and it's reassuring to me that we did it without Ronaldinho. That said, I could have done without the defensive lapses, although by now I've long since resigned myself to Barca's inability to defend set pieces.

One thing that was especially good to see was everybody pressing the opponent early, in midfield or even in their own box. That's exactly how the 4-3-3 is supposed to work, and it's good to see it (finally) happening again. Maybe there is something to this new training regime (added irritated Frank Rijkaard optional).

Still, it ain't over until it's over, and I think we still have to go to Getafe with respect for the opponent. If we manage that, then it will be the first Copa del Rey final appearance by Barca for 9 years. For the team who have won the trophy the most times, that's quite a while.

Getafe

I like them. If you read about Getafe, it's easy to get the impression that they just stifle and defend and are awful to watch. But really, they do get the ball moving and play the passing game a bit. And they're not the type of defensive, dirty team that makes me cringe just watching it. Schuster does good work. I totally understand his lack of enchantment with Messi's goal, by the way. He is the opposing coach.

defence

I hate to say this, but Jorquera really does not inspire confidence in me. He's not bad as far as saves go, but he doesn't command the box as well as Valdes, and when we've got a defence as leaky as ours, having a keeper who doesn't come out to collect loose balls decisively is really bad. That said, Valdes is having such an impressive season that comparisons seem a bit unfair.

As for Marquez, well, what can I say? He's still not quite right in the head, and it shows. Puyol isn't completely on to it, either, but he's still doing the business for us, winning headers that look impossible, charging into every challenge and rushing up the field when the team needs a burst of energy. Irreplaceable, that man. Gio and Zambrotta are both on course to win the 'defender most likely to be caught offside' award jointly with Dani Alves, especially now that Roberto Carlos' age has caught up with him. While this makes sense for a team like Barca, it is a bit worrying for me how much time Zambrotta spends further upfield than Messi, which leaves Marquez as the sole defender on that side. Not good considering Marquez's form this season.

midfield

Great performance from all three pocket maestros. Deco was having a wobbly few...months, but thankfully seems to be getting back to his best. Great work rate, and some inspired touches as well, including a lovely pass for Messi's second goal. Iniesta was as brilliant as he has been all season, working tirelessly both in defence and in attack. Everything he does makes this team tick. If he keeps going like this, he's probably going to be my (and many others') Barca player of the season. It's also great to see Xavi in such blistering form. He had a very good game and scored a highlight-reel worthy goal, when not busy dictating the game from midfield and passing the opponent dizzy. More of the same from all three would be a great way to end the season.

forwards

Like I mentioned above, good work tracking back by all three. Nice to see Gudjohnsen get another goal, especially a crucial one, since he's probably not having the best time of it and could use the boost to his confidence. I still think he's not quite compatible with Barca's style, but no one can fault the effort. The same can be said of Eto'o, really. He was everywhere - never stopped running, looking for space, tracking back to defend and basically just working his socks off. And the goal was typical him - give him chances and I'm always confident of his ability to convert them. And damn, does that scare defenders or what? About as much as his sheer bat out of hell speed scares them, I'd say. Keep shining, you crazy diamond.

I've already written all that needs to be said about Messi. Long may he prosper.

2 comments:

Derek said...

I love Messi dearly... and after last week's amazing performance against Getafe, he no doubt solidified his legend amongst the cules. But thank you for mentioning Iniesta... who indeed is my fave player of the season. He looked a little draggy in yesterday's defeat against Villarreal (who really did deserve to win), and he blew his temper as well, but his ball control and intelligent passing has been a consistent joy to behold.

Z said...

What a stunning goal! Hope Barca ends up with the title!