Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Barca v Sevilla, Nou Camp Nou and the Ronaldinho crisis

Barca 2 - 1 Sevilla

A very important win for Barca, especially given the pre-game celebrations for the 50th birthday of that beautiful stadium, the Camp Nou.

  • Henry looks better with every game. Desperately unlucky for the nth time in front of goal, but as the man said himself, give him a month to get fitter and used to the team.
  • The new signings have really toughened up the defence.
  • Andres Iniesta. He's been a victim of the good form of Xavi and Deco, which is a bit unfair given just how consistently good he's been.
  • Leo Messi. As Hernan Crespo once said, 'a promise that's turning into reality'.
  • Oleguer. Oh dear. I appreciate that it's not easy to come into a game late on having not played for a couple of weeks, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that had he not come on, Barca might not have had to endure a late scare.
  • Ronaldinho - more on which in the next section.
Sevilla president Del Nido said that Barca deserved to win and that they had no complaints about the defeat (which frankly caused me to wonder if he's had a personality transplant), but the statement made in the spirit of fair play is very much appreciated. Coach Juande Ramos was fair and gracious, as always.

I thought Frank Rijkaard's post-game comments were very appropriate, and especially liked his remark on Messi's goal celebration.

other news

The big one in terms of the club is the unveiling of the plans for the renovation of the Camp Nou. The Guardian also has a nice piece on the news. Some of the details on the new facilities are great. Personally, I have come to like it almost in spite of myself. It's daring and different, and that's as it should be. If you're a sceptical Barca supporter, give it time. You may come to change your mind like I did. My personal favourite thing about the current Camp Nou - the open bowl shape - will unfortunately be lost, but it's a small price to pay for a roof for the watching faithful. Come to think of it, it is rather strange that one of the best stadiums in Europe leaves the majority of its spectators to get rained on.

Congratulations are due to Deco, who will play his 100th league game for Barca against Zaragoza, barring any misfortune.

However, the big story of Barca v Zaragoza has to be the duel of the Milito brothers, who have gone their separate ways club-wise once again after 2 seasons of playing on the same team. Hopefully we won't see a repeat of the incident in one of the Racing-Independiente derbies they contested on opposite sides back in Argentina, in wich Diego (the older of the brothers, incidentally) demanded that Gaby be sent off for a rough tackle on him.


Great writing as always from the usual suspects on La Liga: Sid Lowe on Ronaldinho, the stadium and Messi, and Phil Ball on the same issues. Also, for once someone makes sense at, also on Ronaldinho.

Nou Camp Nou

While I agree with Phil on the increasingly embarrassing and erratic behaviour of that megalomaniac Joan Laporta, I find his lament on the corportisation of Barcelona strange, to say the least. Surely it's far too late for that? It's a sad fact of life for fans of top-flight football in any major league, after all. Additionally, renovating a 50-year-old stadium to ensure comfort for the spectators and better access for the disabled, amongst other things, doesn't seem terribly wrong to me. Again, it now seems slightly ridiculous that a stadium which aspires to be one of the best in Europe has no roof, leaving the majority of fans to get drenched on rainy match days.


Any discussion on Ronaldinho must begin with one statement of fact: as Sylvinho said a few years ago, 'he's important for Barcelona on and off the field'.

On the field, he has, as Laporta, Rijkaard and several players pointed out this week, changed the history of the club. Enough said.

Off the field, he has bought many new fans to the club all over the world (especially amongst the young) and serves as a great recruitment tool for the Barcelona youth system in South America along with Messi.

What the board have had to consider is the effect of selling Ronaldinho on Barcelona both those fronts, especially if his form is, as Rijkaard said, 'recoverable'.

(What frankly amazes me is the sheer power of the Ronaldinho brand - the (British) commentators kept telling me during the game against Lyon that he was the best thing since sliced bread when that was evidently not what was happening on the pitch. Which I suppose just demonstrates my point.)

As Phil points out in his article, this whole business with his injury has been more than a little distasteful. However, it must be said this does not actually appear to be an attempt to cover up him being dropped for being out partying 48 hours before the game against Osasuna. Why? Well, apparently Ronnie protested his innocence over the partying incident to Rijkaard, who said that he believed him. So it would be inconsistent of the club to administer a punishment.

Secondly, it was apparently Ronaldinho himself who offered up injury as a reason for not playing against Sevilla. So any cover-up originated within his own camp. Now, is he actually injured? Maybe. What is clear is that after his lack of discipline last season was covered up by Barca (that whole 'he's not missing training, he's in the gym' thing), some people have had enough and no longer trust either him or the club when they announce his status.

What is also clear is that Ronaldinho has a fair bit of support within the dressing room, although not as much as he used to with the departures of Belletti and Motta, and Rijkaard has given him his full public backing. With that in mind, I applaud the Dutchman's actions in taking Ronnie off in previous games when he hasn't looked fully fit and up for it. If anybody doesn't play well, it's logical that they get taken off to have a rest, while a (hopefully) more effective player comes on. So why the fuss when it happens to Ronaldinho? After all, wasn't one of the reasons for the dressing room unrest last season the appearance of the club having one set of rules for Ronnie and one set for everybody else?

That said, I'm not ready to give up on him just yet (although as you can probably tell, my patience is running out), keeping in mind what he has contributed to the club in the past 4 seasons. Remember, 3 games ago everybody loved him. I know us Barca fans can be fickle sometimes, but that's taking it a bit far.

P.S.: I will be travelling to fair Wellington this weekend, home of Wellington Phoenix of the A-league, of course. Unfortunately I won't have time to catch a game while I'm there, though. Enjoy the football, and posting will resume as normal when I get back.


Soccer Mania said...

Well said!!

Cant agree with you more on Ronaldinho issue. Hope he finds his form back.

On a side-note- What a performance by Barca against Zaragoza. Magical and Messi-merizing (intended!!).
The best part abt that performance is it came without the 2 main players and the onus is now on them to get into the team.
Also Toure Yaya is one hell of a player- an excellent buy!!
Have a nice time in Wellingdon!!

Linda said...

Yeah, as worrying as the Ronnie issue is, I'm glad the team are playing well without him.

I've been pleasantly surprised by Yaya, which is always nice.


Anonymous said...

no new post?

Linda said...

I have been away, anon. Back now though, and hopefully posts soon.