Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The numbers game, Eto'o to Chelsea? plus injury update

This is especially for John Clancy who's complained about my lack of posting now that Bar
ça are losing like it's going of fashion. After playing their worst game of the season last Sunday against Athletico Madrid, the blaugrana took on second placed Valencia and Victor Valdes disasterous mistake aside, FCB were much the better team. They had 69% posession, 18 shots on goal and totally dominated but just couldn't make it count. Missing Ronaldinho, Deco and Messi and seeing Giuly go off with a muscular contraction at half time, this is the first time they've failed to score since their 0-0 draw with Panathinaikos back in early October. The result leaves FCB six points clear of Valencia (just two weeks ago it was twelve) and seven ahead of Real, who beat a sorry Bilbao side 0-2 in the San Mames on Saturday (I watched the first six minutes, which was all it took Madrid to score and then switched over to Aliens on Sky Cinema. From the match reports I've read it doesn't sound like I missed much, though it seems injury magnet Jon Woodgate played well)

Both Sid Lowe and Phil Ball wrote about the game yesterday and their colums are worth a read.

And so it beings

Everytime Chelsea played Liverpool last season the "Gerrard to Stamford Bridge" story would leak out a few days beforehand. It was always the same, some massive bid that was too good to refuse would be launched, Rafa Benitez would use the money to buy x, y and z and Gerrard, fed up with Liverpools underachivement would move south in order to win both the Premiership and the Champions League. Things didn't quite work out that way, Liverpool beat Milan on penalties in Istanbul to win the European Cup , Gerrard stayed ("how could I leave after this?") and Chelsea bought the over-rated Michael Essien instead. Fast forward to this season and it's Samuel Eto'os turn. With their Champions League match eight days away, the first of the "Eto'o to Stamford Bridge" stories have started to appear. The figure being mentioned is £30 million but no doubt that has just been plucked out of the air. Of course it also ties in nicely with the Thierry Henry stories. Expect it to resurface before the second leg is played too.

Eto'os strike partner, Leo Messi seems to be recovering well from the muscle strain in his right leg. He's back in training and should be fit for the Betis game. With the aforementioned Giuly doubtful this is indeed good news.

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