Friday, August 31, 2007

Barca news and La Liga teams in Europe

Barca are obviously Spain's crisis club, having drawn their first game away, a horrifying fate that has surely -

Oh for God's sake. Dictionary definition of 'leaping to conclusions', anyone?

Barca 5-0 Inter Reserves (Joan Gamper Trophy)

El Mundo Deportivo called Inter 'tourists', which is harsh but true, and who can blame the Italians with an important league fixture to come in the weekend? However, a sold-out Camp Nou - yes, 98,599 people attended a season-opening friendly (so much for the fans feeling let down by the Barca team) - probably would have wished to see a few more of Inter's star players.

The team carried a banner reading 'we will play for you' with a picture of the Sevilla defender onto the pitch. By the way, it was the squad themselves who decided on the tribute of wearing his no.16 shirt and not to celebrate the goals scored that day.
"At first the squad wanted the game to be postponed in order to show our respects to the Puerta, although after talking to the directors we agreed that the best homage was to play for him," Xavi said.

"It was a good way for us to send a message of support and our concolences. Before that none of the players had really fancied playing at all."
I feel quite bad for Santiago Solari, who I've always liked and who received a hostile reception due to his status as a former Real Madrid player. He was one of the few Inter players who tried to make things happen and departed seemingly injured. Hopefully he's alright.

Interesting, there was a lot of support for the beleaguered Deco amongst the crowd, which I'm very pleased by. Other than that, the crowd absolutely loved the immense Yaya Toure, chanting his name after his excellent goal. The others to received the same treatment included Giovani, and Messi (seemingly for just being on the field). But anyway, Yaya is awesome. I'm beginning to suspect he may prove to be our signing of the season.

Of the other new guys, we already know what Abidal can do, but it was nice to see Gaby Milito get 45 minutes of playing time. He obviously needs more time, as there were some early communication issues, but it was good to see headers being won in the Barca area for the first time in ages courtesy of him, and his great sense of positioning was evident.

I've been pretty hard on Thierry Henry for a while, but I have to admit he's starting to win me over. He played 90 minutes of the Gamper game and looked very lively despite some rough defending from Inter. I was worried that his pace had gone with injuries and age, but was pleased to be proven wrong. My one concern is with the number of times Giovani has had the ball on the right flank, looked up to try and find Henry in the center with his cross, and discovered that he had drifted to the left, where Ronaldinho was, and that there was nobody to be found in the center. That has to change. Overall, though, I'm pleased with his progress and am happy to rely on his talents in future competitive matches.

I say this partly because unfortunately, Samuel Eto'o suffered a tear in his right thigh tendon about 2 minutes after he came on and had to be substituted.

How long is he going to be out? At least two months. God. I was afraid all pre-season that something was going to happen, and now it has. Good thing we haven't sold Gudjohnsen or Ezquerro yet. And now the thought of having Henry around is very reassuring, despite his own battle for fitness. Well, at least we'll be putting all that crap about the four forwards to one side, but I feel awful for Eto'o, who was still struggling to be fit from his last major injury. Those types of injuries are so tricky to recover from, too. Look at the nightmare Messi went through with his in 05-06.

The latest is that he will need surgery, which will happen on Saturday morning. Good luck, Sammy!

I hate to say this, but Ronaldinho needs to make just a bit more effort on the pitch, especially with Puyol's absence because of injury, since it's hard to have everybody giving their best when the captain's wandering around, too lazy to chase after a pass. His lack of movement was pretty worrying.

On the other hand, young Giovani is definitely a hard worker. I'm reluctant to admit this, given how much I like Messi, but in some ways Giovani has the greater tactical discipline, because he seldom holds onto the ball just a touch too long like Messi sometimes does. Of course, Messi's dribbling runs are just part of his playing style, just like his tendency to cut into the middle from the right, and it's good that Rijkaard has more tactical options, with Giovani more likely to stay wide. The young Mexican still has a bit to learn in terms of general tactical discipline, and sometimes his decision-making is suspect, but that will come with playing time.

Poor old Cristian Chivu had a torrid time against Giovani and must have been relieved to see the boy depart. Except that his replacement was one Leo Messi, who continued to torment the defender.

Champions League draw

Hey. we're in the group of death (again), isn't that great? To be fair, none of the groups look like walkovers this time around, but God. Of the Spanish teams, Valencia have got a tough job themselves. (By the way, how are Valencia still a pot 2 team after doing so well since the turn of the century?) The draw in full:

Group A: Liverpool, Porto, Marseille, Besiktas
Group B: Chelsea, Valencia, Schalke 04, Rosenborg
Group C: Real Madrid, Werder Bremen, Lazio, Olympiakos
Group D: AC Milan, Benfica, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk
Group E: Barcelona, Lyon, VfB Stuttgart, Rangers
Group F: Manchester United, Roma, Sporting Lisbon, Dynamo Kiev
Group G: Internazionale, PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce
Group H: Arsenal, Sevilla/AEK Athens, Steaua Bucharest, Slavia Prague

UEFA Cup draw

I have to admit, I don't know much about the clubs the four Spanish participants have been drawn with:

Villarreal CF (ESP) v FC BATE Borisov (BLR)
Club Atl├ętico de Madrid (ESP) v Kayseri Erciyesspor (TUR)
Aris Thessaloniki FC (GRE) v Real Zaragoza (ESP)
Getafe CF (ESP) v FC Twente (NED)

Also of interest to Barca fans, Henrik Larsson's Helsingborgs have been handed a relative tough tie against Heerenveen of the Netherlands.

And speaking of former Barca players, Gerard Lopez has joined Recreativo on a free transfer.


rahul said...

hey, ive been coming to your blog for about a year now i think. Love the way u write; intelligently , passionately but without any bias or blindedness...

the new look is nice and i just love that quote u have on the top...just is

im a barca fan, however, im not too knowledgeable...just know that i love beautiful, passionate football...

a barca fan flatmate of mine , questioned my support for barca asking me the motto for the club...i dont know it ...just know i love the game :)

keep up the good work

Linda said...

Thank you very much! I don't have a hit counter going, so it's hard to know how many people are reading, and it's always good to hear that I'm doing something right. :)