Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Larsson to return to Sweden

34 year old Barca striker Henrik Larsson is to leave FCB at the end of the season, returning to Sweden. It's not all that surprising considering he's not seen much action in the past season and a half. Knee injury notwithstanding, the form of Samuel Eto'o and the emergence of Leo Messi has meant that Copa Del Rey games and late substitute appearences aside, Larsson has been watching most Barca games from the bench. His most likely destination is Helsingborg.

Henrik is an awesome player and had he arrived at Barca earlier in his career, when the competition upfront was Kluivert, Dani and Saviola he would have walked into the first team. As is, considering his age, I'd rather Maxi Lopez be given a chance.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Waaaaa! Whining Real lose again and are now 11 points behind Barca

1-2, at home, to the hapless Racing Santander, who are 13th and have scored all of 14 goals thus far (this is only the third time they've scored more than once).

The match report on reamadrid.com begins:

1-2: A lack of accuracy takes its toll against Racing

Real Madrid wasted their opportunities in a match plagued by interruptions from the Cantabrian players, and onto which only five minutes were added. Ronaldo reduced the gap in a second half which saw the participation of the second team players Balboa and Soldado.

What incredible whining.

Eto'o to snub The Cameroons?

As reported in El Mundo Deportivo a few months back (and as posted here) Samuel Eto'o may not play for The Cameroons in the African Cup of Nations. The competition begins January 20th and assuming the the indomitable Lions make it all the way to the final, played on February 10th, Eto'o would miss four games, Alaves, Mallorca, Athletico Madrid and Valencia. Valencia aside, that game is in the Mestella, the other three are fairly poor and Barca should be able to beat them with or without Sammy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Roberto Carlos

Like any good cule, Barca aside, my other obsession is Real Madrid and anything remotely bad that may befall them. So when I read today that hapless sometime-defender and taker of free kicks that end up in the carpark, Roberto Carlos had kicked lumps out of Osasunas Valdo (a former Madrid youth teamer) in their game on Sunday and then laughed when he injured him I sat up and took note:

"I didn't understand his attitude," Valdo was reported as saying in sports daily Marca on Tuesday. "He laughed when I told him I was injured and he told me he would do the other as well.

Taking exception to this type of behaviour, midfielder Punal elbowed Carlos (can't say he didn't deserve it) in the face two minutes later and was promptly sent off. There's no justice eh?

Another reason, as if you need one, to hate Madrid.
To no ones surprise...

Ronaldinho is FIFA World Player of the Year. I know these awards don't actually mean anything but still, they are rather shiny. 'dinho should be back in the line-up tonight against Celta, having recovered from the flu. The game is being shown on Sky Sports 1 at 10, after some bullshit Coca Cola/ Carling/ Worthington/ Littlewoods/ any-any-any old iron Cup game.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Barca set a new record and go two points clear of Osasuna

So I moved out of my place on Saturday and for the next few weeks I'm broadbandless and ntl:less (though Sky Digital will ride to the rescue over the Xmas break) and thus I'll be a little out of the loop on all matters FCB for a while.

Anyway, Barca beat the rather hopeless Cadiz 3-1 on Saturday evening, Eto'o and Giuly scored the goals and Messi was once again sensational (he was given a standing ovation by the Cadiz fans). The win makes it 12 in a row and sets a new club record.

The next game is against Celta (who were walloped 0-3 at home by Depor on the weekend) at the Camp Nou tomorrow evening which I may just get to see if I can duck out of our Christmas party. Celta are in a rather poor run of form of late, having only beaten bottom club Betis in the past month, though they are still in 8th and have a decent defence (Matias Lequi, Diego Placente and Pablo Contreras are all decent) though they're quite blunt up front, scoring just 18 goals in 16 games.

Celta are a solid side who will probably finish about 10th after being promoted to La Primera Liga this season. Though considering how few goals they've scored I'm surprised that Daniel de Ridder (who arrived in the summer from Ajax) hasn't seen more of a run out (he's made five appearences as substitute) as I don't think he's injured. From what I've heard of de Ridder he's very much in the Van Der Vaart mould (in the playing sense, not that he's a gobby tosser) and I've read some rave reviews of his performances last season in addition to seeing some videos where he looks like quite the fancy dan with his excessive step overs and pointless flicks. Actually maybe Christano Ronaldo is a better comparison...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Chelsea Barca!

The full Champions League is as follows:

Chelsea - Barcelona
Real Madrid - Arsenal
Werder Bremen - Juventus
Bayern Munchen - AC Milan
PSV Eindhoven - Lyon
Ajax - Inter
Benfica - Liverpool
Rangers - Villareal

The games are to be played 21/22 February and 7/8 March, so absolutely ages away and impossible to predict what the state of play will be then (injuries, form etc) so I'm not even going to try.

For your reading pleasure, decent article about Sammy Eto'o by Simon Baskett. I'm out for Xmas lunch shortly so I shall post my musings on the weekend game at Cadiz later.


Monday, December 12, 2005

It just don't stop

Apologies for my lack of posting of late, I've been away in London for the past few days and one can barely find a working telephone box there let alone a computer connected to the internet...

In my absence Barca have won twice, 2-0 away to Udine in the Champions League (I caught the highlights, if one can call them that, it was a poor game, Udine were incredibly defensive and negative) and 2-1 at home to Sevilla to give them 11 wins in a row, matching a club record set in the mid-fifties. They are now on 34 points, ahead of the incredible Osasuna (who won again against Mallorca) on goal difference (+25).

From reading the match report it doesn't sound like Barca were up to much at all in the first half against a Sevilla side with the best defence in La Liga but considering the form they've been in of late and the players who were out (Deco, Xavi, Motta, Van Bommel and Marquez) they were probably due a slight dip but they roared back, especially after going a goal down (a toe poke from Fredi Kanoute). Eto'os goal takes him to 13 for the season, Ronaldinho has 10. At the other end this is only the 4th time Barca have conceeded a goal in their 11 game run. With two more games before the Christmas break (against Cadiz and Celta) I can't see this ending at 11

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Eto'o, Ronaldinho and Motta out of Wednesdays game

Motta has a thigh strain and will miss the Sevilla game at the weekend too. Eto'o has a sore ankle (that's what the Barca website says) and Ronaldinho is being rested. Expect Ezquerro to come in for 'dinho, Larsson for Sammy and Gabri for Motta. The full squad for the Udine game is here.

Demetrio Albertini has announced his retirement. Demetrio was a fabulous player at Milan (winning five Scudetti and one European Cup) and while he only came to Barca for 6 months at the very end of his career he played well anytime he was asked to step up. In a move that will no doubt endear him further to FCB cules, his website, will soon be available in Catalan. Bravo Demetrio!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sid Lowe on Luxemburgos sacking

There will no doubt be more on this in his column later today. Real are now on their fifth coach in the same time (two and a half seasons) that Barca have had one.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

In the town where I was born...

Barca beat the yellow submarines 2-0 to say top of the table, ahead of Osasuna (who beat Malaga 1-2) on goal difference. I watched the first half before catching the train back to Dub-eh-lin town. Barca dominated the opening 45 minutes, never really being seriously troubled by Villareal who look very blunt up front without Diego Forlan; Figueroa and blousy tosser Jose Mari just aren't up to. Barcas first goal came from a Ronaldinho free kick after Motta was upended. 'Dinhos kick was flapped at by Viera, pushing it straight onto Pena from where it was deflected into the goal. From what I've seen of Sebastian Viera thus far I've been far from impressed, Barbossa is much better.

Deco got the second on 63 minutes. My da tells me the second half was much like the first, Barca playing the better football and Villareal looking solid but unremarkable.

Motta played very well in the first half which bodes well for the next six Xavi-less months. Champions League aside, Villareal are one of the better teams that Barca will face and he was in top form.

Oh, Real Madrid, to the surprise of no one, have sacked Vanderlei Luxemburgo after a mere 11 months in charge. Who knows who will replace him.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Xavi out for 6 months

Six fucking months!? He's torn his anterior curciate ligament and will need surgery. With Mark Van Bommel out until at least late January and possibly longer this is a massive blow for Barca. Jesus...

Update:

The official statement from the club says that he'll be operated on tomorrow (Saturday)
El Madrigal on Sunday

A preview of the Villareal match on Sunday from Simon Baskett. Forlan is still out for the yellow submarines which is good news, they're rather blunt without him and with Barcas defence holding firm over the last 8 games, conceeding only 3 goals, 2 of those penalties. I probably won't see the game as I'm working all weekend... grrr. I'd expect Barca to win but I can't see them romping to a 4-0 win, it'll be a tight game.

Also, both West Ham (loan) and Liverpool were mentioned as possible destinations for Maxi Lopez in the January transfer window on The Guardians Rumour Mill yesterday. I can't see him going anywhere other than Betis (who are also interested in Postiga and Siname Pongolle it's emerged this morning), what with Olivera out injured for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kevin McCarra on Ballon D'Or winner Ronaldinho

Why Ronaldinho made the right move going to Barca. 'dinho would also like Thierry Henry to join him at the Camp Nou. I really can't see him staying at Arsenal, now that he's broken Wrights scoring record. The only thing that is left for him to do now is win the European Cup and it's unlikely to be with the Gunners.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Nothing sounds quite like an 8-oh-8

With predicatable efficiency and no small amount of flair, Barca dispatched Racing 4-1 last night. They could even afford for Ballon D'Or winner (to be presented tonight) Ronaldinho to miss a penalty early on. Barca have won eight games in a row now, scoring 28 goals and conceeding 3. Both Messi and Eto'o scored fabulous goals, Eto'o picking the ball up in his own half and beating four players to slot past the Racing keeper, the wonderfully named Dudu Aouate.

In other less sunny news, Espanyol keeper, Carlos Kameni was the subject of some horrible racist abuse at the Athletico Madrid game. In the same fixture last year a banana was throw at him. Athletico were of course fined the massive amount of 600 euros for racist chanting last year. Expect this to be similarly brushed under the carpet by the Spanish FA.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Belletti and Ezquerro back in the squad

So seriously do Barca take the threat of Racing that Santi Ezquerro is back in the match squad for this evenings game (he's on the bench and it's already 1-0, Eto'o on thirty one minutes) The Real match has just finished 2-2 with goals from Bravo and Zidane in the 87th and 88th minutes. Who'd have thought they had a spirited comeback in them?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Simon Baskett on the contrast between Barca and Real

Reasonable article on the differing approaches at the Camp Nou and the Bernabeu.
Racing

Third from bottom with only 2 wins out of 12, a top scorer (Aganzo) who's only netted twice (they've only scored 6 in total), having lost their two best players, Yossi Benayoun and Juanma, in the summer and with the only arrivals of note being waster midfielder Stephaine Dalmat and his brother Wilfred, Racing Santander come to the Camp Nou on Sunday evening.

Masters of the dull draw and narrow defeat, the chances of them pulling off an upset are remote indeed. With both Xavi and Eto'o having sat out the midweek Champions League game against Bremen, expect both to be restored to the line up, with a possible start for either Belletti or Gabri on the right in place of Oleguer. Other than that it will be Barca as usual as they look to notch their eight win on the trot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

You on point Tip?

1nce again Phife! 3-1 against Bremen last night and Ronaldinho was 1nce again on fantastic form, scoring one and setting up the other two goals. There were quite a few changes to the starting lineup, Gabri, Motta and Larsson were all on for the beginning and there was a welcome return for Julio Belletti late on. Even the whatever happened to.. Santi Ezquerro came on in the second half. Great to see Gabri get a start and score. The same goes for Larsson, who'd I'd really like to see given more of a run out.

The balanced Reuters match report is here and the sensationalist fcbarcelona.es one is here.

Incidently, Barca have now won seven matches in a row. With Racing Santander, a side that managed two own goals against Depor in their last match, at home on Sunday one wouldn't bet against them making it eight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Phil Ball on the derbi

A fine article on Soccernet by Mr. Ball on the politics and football that played out in the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Maxi to be loaned out to Betis?

He would seem to be on his way. I really like Maxi but because of Eto'o fantastic form and fitness he's never really gotten a look in. Along with Jorquera and Damia, he's only member of the squad not to play a first team game this season. Look for Santi Ezquerro to be farmed out in January too, possibly back to Bilbao.

In other news, it appears that Samuel Eto'o won't be going to play for Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations if El Mundo Deportivo is to be believed. This would fit with the Maxi story.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Casillas to leave Madrid?

Wow, look for Real down the bottom half of the table if this happens. Far and away their most important player in the past four seasons, I can't think who they'd get to replace him. Gigi Buffon perhaps?

In other Real related news, Raul, who limped off in el derbi will be out for at least 2 months with a knee injury. With both Ronaldo and Baptista still struggling for fitness, it leaves Robinho as the only fully fit forward to face Lyon. It's at times like these they could really do with Michael Owen. And some defenders. And a midfield anchorman.

As I type this I see Sid Lowes article about Saturdays game has just gone up on The Guardian site. Have a read.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Gol Eto'o! Gol Ronaldinho! Gol Ronaldinho! 0-3 Barca

Florentino Perez, David Beckham, Arrigo Sacchi, Wanderley Luxemburgo, Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano, Fernando Hierro, King Juan Carlos, Ivan Zamarano, Raul Gonzales Blanco, Jorge Valdano, Lorenzo Sanz, Santiago Bernabeu; your boys took one hell of a beating!

What a performance! Ronaldinho was simply sensational, Messi (playing licence yet to be annuled) turned Roberto Carlos inside out, Eto' scored a fantastic opener to silence the fascista crowd who'd been booing him from the beginning. Xavi and Edmilson ran the midfield against the hopeless Pablo Garcia whos only contribution was elbowing Deco in the face. Puyol and Marquez dealt effortlessly with a fat unfit Ronaldo, an over-hyped, overly elaborate cry baby in Robinho and a non-entity in Raul.

Real were awful. Their best player by a mile was Casillas who kept the scoreline somewhat respectable with great saves from Eto'o and Messi in the first half to esure it stayed 0-1 at the break. Chica gordo Sergio Ramos was appaling, with Ronaldinho blowing past him for both his goals like he wasn't there. Helguera was crocked and slow. Zidane and Becks were poor, though Becks did at least try.

From the jump off the game was Barcas, Real never once (bar an offside goal from fat Ron late on) threatened to make a game of it, they looked beaten from the moment Eto'o scored. The goal, created by Leo Messi cutting inside past Carlos, came on 15 minutes. For the next half hour Barca battered their way past Real and created several openings without putting them away, Deco, Xavi, Messi, Eto'o, Ronaldinho all had a go.

The second half was more of the same, Barca amazing, Ronaldinho powering his way through Reals all-at-sea defence, Messi being fouled out of it everytime he got the ball, Real huffing and puffing and never getting close to the blaugrana. Raul came off injured mid way through the half and Guti came on to very little effect. Ditto Baptista, who replaced the rubbish Pablo Garcia.

The result, coupled with Osasunas 0-0 draw puts Barca top on goal difference (+19) and even after 12 games, it's very hard to see them being caught by anyone, especially not Real who are in need of an almighty kick up the arse after this shambles of a performance.

So there you have it folks, Barcelona put Real to the sword with brilliant ease. Forca Barca!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's the return of the...

Beast. And the Phenomenon. And Zidane and Helguera too... In fact bar the forever crocked Woodgate and Gravesen, Real are pretty much full strenght. Gah!
Everytime you close your eyes...

Lies! Lies! I was reading a short interview with Ivan Helguera (who's rated as 50/50 for el derbi) realmadrid.com this morning. One of the questions he's asked/ statements made is "So far in the season they (Barca) have lost against some big teams." Barca have lost 1nce this season, to Athletico Madrid. Real on the other hand, have lost five games...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Messi may not play again until January

Could Barca possibly have made any more of a mess of this? Yesterday the Spanish League asked the FA to annul Leo Messis playing licence. Given that his Spanish citizenship was granted late September (almost a whole month after the transfer window had closed) and the Barca completely botched his registration (previously had been a member of the youth team and thus regulations restricting each team in La Liga to three non-EU players, Ronaldinho, Marquez and Eto'o, did not apply) they don't have a leg to stand on and quite honestly I'm surprised he's been playing up to now.

What isn't clear is whether Barca will face any penalty, financial or otherwise as a result of this. With regard the results of games that Messi played in, what happens there? Do they stand? Of course the other conern is that the only games Messi will be able to play between now and the opening of the transfer window are the two remaining in the Champions League. If his licence is annuled I don't think he'll even be able to play Barca B games as they can't re-register him as a youth teamer until January either...

More on this spectacular balls up from the BBC

Monday, November 14, 2005

USA! USA!

Apparently Barca are looking to launch an MLS club in the US. Expect this to happen around the same time the Barca shirt carries a sponsor (ie: never) That said, I'm off to register barcelonabandits.com just incase...
Arabian nights

It seems that Al Ittihad (all in Arabic) are looking to sign either Samuel Eto'o or Kaka on a ten day loan for £3.4 million to play in the World Club Championship. It will of course never happen but with there being a whole five days until el derbi, actual news is thin on the ground.

Speaking of which, Real are apparently looking to rush back not only Ronaldo, but also Zidane, Baptista and Helguera back for the game on Saturday. All of which is great news being as all of them, in particular Baptista, are completely crocked. There's no news on the Real website as to how they're progressing, so we shall see.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Barca TV on your digibox?

Plans are afoot to expand Barca TVs reach which ought mean that it will make its way onto Sky Digital in the UK and Ireland. From what I've seen of it BTV is as bland and boring as MUTV (without Roys rants) but if it's a wet Wednesday evening I'd sooner watch a Barca B game than crap like The 70s House...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Van Bommel injured

He will undergo an MRI scan today on his ankle. Hopefully it's not too serious. I know there's not been much news in the past few days but it is international week so aside from rubbish like "'I am happy with how the team is playing' says Rijkaard" or other such hot air there's not much to report.

Update

Van Bommel is out for up to two months having torn ligaments in his ankle. Good thing Deco is on the mend.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Belletti back in training, Van Bommel called up to the Dutch Squad

Julio Belletti was back in light training today. He should be back training with the rest of the squad before the Real game.

Also, Mark Van Bommel has been called up to the Dutch squad to replace Wesley Sneijder for their game against Italia at the weekend.
Fucking stupid racist pigs at Getafe

Once again Samuel Eto'o is the victim of stupid, ignorant racist abuse from piece of shit Getafe fans. Sammy was on the end of moronic monkey chants in the same fixture last year. Credit to Getafe who made announcements on the PA requesting the abuse stop and flashed no to racism on the scoreboard. Perhaps their facist neighbours in the Bernabeu will take note.
Benefit game for middle east peace process

November 29th, a game to be played against a joint Israeli Palestinian side. Hope it's well attended.
Woodgate out for four weeks

To no ones surprise Jon Woodgate is injured again, this time for four weeks (or maybe four months, one never knows with JW) This of course rules him out of el derbi. Nice one.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Another comprehensive win and my subject lines become evermore like fcbarcelona.com

3-1 away win against Getafe, I didn't see any of it and so will just have to read the hyperbolic match report tomorrow. Motta got his first start of the season though, scored a super free kick. Deco came off the bench late on and seems to be back to (or at least approaching) full fitness. Barca are still second behind Osasuna (who beat Sociedad 1-2 on Saturday)

I did catch a little of the Real game this evening (1-0, a 79th minute Roberto Carlos penalty) and from what I saw of the first half Real were rather awful. With Helguera out and Woodgate coming off injured (Woodgate? Injured you say? I've never heard such nonsense...) the Real centre backs were, for most of the game, the frankly hopeless Pavon (more famous for Perez "Zidanes y Pavones" statement than anything else) and midfielder Mejia (while right back Sergio Ramos incredibly continues to play in the centre of midfield) Whether the hamstring injury is so bad as to keep Woodgate out of el derbi remains to be seen.

Also caught the second half of Villareal - Valencia (1-0 to the yellow submarines) and Aimar and Miguel aside, Valencia were quite poor. Barbosa did make some excellent saves from Villa and Baraja but Villareal always looked the better side with 20 year old Santi Carzola (dreadful mullet aside) excellent throughout, albeit against the 40 year old Amedeo Carboni. This result leaves Valencia ninth and on this form (one point from a possible nine and that was against Santander) I'd be very surprised to see them mount a challange for the title.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Deco back training with the rest of the squad

Good news, Deco is back in full training and may be back in time for el derbi. The official team photo (1.2 Megs jpeg) is up on the Barca website today too. Er, yeah, hardly news but...
Puyol and Xavi in Spanish squad for Slovakia game

No place for Valdes or Oleguer, the only two other 'spaniards' playing regularly for Barca. The full squad is listed here

In other international news, Mark Van Bommel has been left out to the Dutch squad. Considering the form he's been in and that the likes of 'boro waster George Boateng and the 35 year old former Barca man Phillip Cocu are included it's rather surprising. No place for Davids or Roy Makaay either.
Good news for el derbi

With Baptista definitely out and Ronaldo unlikely to recover in time for el derbi on the 19th there's more good news from the Real camp this morning, Ivan Helguera (thigh) is out too. Helguera will be sidelined (there must be a better phrase than this for players who are injured) for three weeks so in all likelihood it'll be crocked racist Jon Woodgate and gobby tosser Sergio Ramos in the centre of defence for the Barca game.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Let's not get carried away, actually no, let's

I only caught the goals of the Panathinaikos game last night and Barca were simply masterful. Eto'o hat trick was superb, his header for the first probably the best. The Getafe (check out their webiste, it's quite brilliant, particularly the Instalaciones section) game is on Sunday and considering their form (up and down) and Barcas (unbeatable) I'm going to go wild and say that the blaugrana will probably win. Looking over the Getafe squad, they have some decent players, the 1nce very promising Cosmin Contra, Celestini and Nano in midfield plus Rafa Benitez target and former Real Madrid youth teamer Riki up front. They also have ex-BCN player Bernd Schuster as coach who got off to a great start with Levante last season before going on a dreadful run, getting sacked and seeing Valencias other team relegated on the last day of the season.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A L'Eto'o, a L'Eto'o!

Eto'o hat trick, Messi playing like Diego, an absolute riot of attacking football. I'm just back from dinner so I'll have to check the full highlights and post more in the morning but Forca Barca! Incredible!
Squad for the Panathinaikos game

Marquez is back for tonights game though both Giuly and Maxi are out. Apparently Maxi is being 'rested', but considering that he's played about as many games for Barca this season as I have I can't see why they'd leave him out. His attitude seems to be good and he certainly offers a different option to Messi or Ezquerro so why not give him a go. There has been talk of loaning him out at Christmas but I think he's good enough to hold down a place in the squad. Forgotten man Gabri is back tonight too. With Belletti out until after Christmas and Oleguer not a natural right back the oppertunity is certainly there for him.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Barca bulldoze la Real

What with it being a bank holiday weekend I've rather slacked off on posting. Thankfully the team have not taken my lead as they powered past Sociedad on Sunday, 5-0 including the first goal the Carles Puyol has scored in over three years. Barca are now second (by a point) to the woeful Osasuna (see Barcas 3-0 thumping of them last week for evidence of same) and with the faltering Getafe up next before el derbi at the Bernabeu on November 20th.

Last week Oleguer made a comment that when Barca were playing well they were unbeatable and I don't think it was a throwaway remark, when they're in this form I can't see anyone coming close to them, Juve or Chelsea are their only real rivals for the European Cup and with regards La Liga, it's Real or Valencia at a stretch.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Barca make hard work of it and Real lose again

Didn't see the game last night, was out to dinner but from what I read Barca had another Alaves for eighty minutes until Ronaldinho scored a 'controversial' penalty (ie: it wasn't one) and Larsson neatly chipped Aranu (who was in spectacular form) with two minutes to go, running onto a Ronaldinho pass.

Just as important as Barcas win was Madrids limp 3-1 defeat away to Depor, their second loss on the bounce (the blaugranas draws against Valencia and Depor don't look so bad now) which has seen them drop to fifth and a six point swing to Barca (now third, two points off the top) in just four days.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

So Becks gets his red card rescinded...

... while Messis yellow for being hacked down by Cesar Cruchaga (who freely admits it was a foul) stands.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sid Lowe on Joan Laporta

The frequently unfunny and annoying Sid Lowe today writes about Joan Laporta and his friends in fascist places. Read it here.
Belletti out for six weeks, Deco three

Read the official statement here

Deco should be back for the Real game on November 20th but Julio won't be back until the beginning of January. Oleguer better sharpen up.
Barca thump Osasuna

Midway through the second half, with Barca 2-0, the Camp Nou saw what Leo Messi was all about. With Osasuna attacking down the left, he tracked back to close to his own corner flag, won the ball, beat two Osasuna players and tore up the field. No step overs, no flicks, just sheer determination and will. Fuck you Robinho.

After a lacklustre first half with anti-Laporta banners hanging in the stands, Belletti and Deco limping off after 20 and 38 minutes respectively and with the scoreline staying stubornly at 0-0, Barca exploded in the second, Eto'o scoring twice inside nine minutes to put the game beyond a very flat and unthreatening Osasuna. Messi was absolutely sensational. On from the start in place of Giuly, both he and Ronaldinho were a joy to watch, powering forward at every oppertunity.

With Messi playing so well and Giuly scoring when he came on late for Eto'o, I'm curious to see who Riijaard wil start on Wednesday against Malaga. On this form you'd surely have to go for Messi.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Iniesta left out

For the first time in over a year, Andres Iniesta has been left out of the match squad for the Osasuna game tonight. Hardly surprising considering the likes of Ronaldinho, Deco and Xavi have found themselves sitting in the stands of late. Barca have a bigger, fitter squad this year and Iniestas performances have hardly been setting the world alight of late. The full squad is here. Both Giuly and Marquez are fit so I'm hoping Edmilson will stay on the bench. Barca have a run of three home games now in La Liga and considering the oppositon (Osasuna tonight, Malaga and Sociedad) they really ought win all of these games at a stroll.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Osasuna at the Camp Nou and more on the Echevarria affair

Barca play first placed (though not for long I suspect) Osasuna tomorrow evening (9pm GMT, SKy Sports Xtra) Now that the Echevarria affair has concluded hopefully the focus can go back onto the pitch. Rafael Marquez may miss the game, he pulled out of training on Thursday but Giuly, Deco and Gabri are all back and should make the match squad. Oasauna are no great shakes and their form has been up and down. I'd hope for a solid Barca win but with the way they're playing at the moment, lethargic and low on confidence I can see they struggling unless they get off to a quick start. As I'm illmatic at the mo I'll probably catch the game on Saturday with a box of tissues in one hand and a mug of Lemsip in the other *cough*
Fascista resigns

Hours after he was publicly backed by Joan Laporta, Alejandro Echevarria has resigned as director of FC Barcelona. More on this in the morning as I really need to go to bed now but suffice to say, if I were Sandro Rosell I'd be rather happy with the mess that Laporta has created. He's going to have to do alot more than promise Thierry Henry to win back the members after this debacle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Well at least they didn't conceed...

It seems that Frank Riijkaard and I are back on the same page. Well almost. Out went Oleguer and Edmilson and in came Mark Van Bommel and Marquez and for the first time in over a month Barca kept a clean sheet. That said, they were playing Panathinaikos. Still, it's a start. What I was surprised by though was Larsson starting for the injured Giuly instead of Messi. Larsson is a striker and playing him out on the right is a bit of a waste. If he's going to come in for anyone it should be Eto'o, but of course it's not going to be Eto'o.

Speaking of Messi, he again looked very threatening when he came on. It pains me that administrative stupidity and incompetence has effectively ruled him out of La Liga matches until January.

The aforementioned Eto'o had the best chances, two late in the second half in a game that the blaugrana really ought to have won against an incredibly defensive, hard tackling (read dirty) and limited Greek side.

Van Bommel, who came off for forever injured Motta, making his first appearence of the season since he stepped on a rake/ slipped on a banana skin/ walked under a ladder in pre-season, was booked so he'll miss the return leg at the Camp Nou in November.

Barca still top the group wtih seven points and ought win it rather easily with Bremen and Udine drawing 1-1 last night.

Read the completely biased match report from fcbarcelona.es here

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The current state of play at the Camp Nou

Good article from The Guardian on Friday about the current difficulties facing the Laporta Presidency, from fascista Alejandro Echevarria to the farce that is Leo Messis registration. Worth a read.
The Panathinaikos game

Barca play in Greece tonight after Saturdays collapse at the Riazor and whatever of a win, I'm hoping for a clean sheet. From having the best defence in La Liga last season, thus far, after seven games and ten goals conceeded, they have one of the worst.

Oleguer has been playing poorly (both at right back and in the centre) and Rijkaards decission to persist with and out-of-sorts Edmilson in the holding midfield role ahead of Marquez has meant that he has had little protection. I'd like to see both Oleguer and Edmilson dropped to the bench with Marquez coming in alongside Puyol and Mark Van Bommel (who's been fantastic in the two games I've seen him play) in midfield, behind Xavi and Deco.

With his situation in La Liga still up in the air, I'd expect Messi to come in from the start for Giuly. He was quite superb in the game against Udine.

I should catch the highlights late tonight so I'll post a match report of sorts here in the morning.