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.