Friday, September 29, 2006

Oh. Bollocks.

Barcelona came away from Bremen with a point thanks to Leo Messi's last minute gol. Samuel Eto'o came away with a crocked knee that leaves him out for five months. Sammy, Barça's top gol scorer for the past two seasons in La Liga, won't play again until March. Fucking March. In the meantime Gudjohnsen and Saviola will need to get their Henrik Larsson on and step up to the plate. Of all the players for the blaugrana to lose, Sammy is far and away the most important. His injury is a huge loss and while Frank Rijkaard is claiming publically that the team will cope, I have my doubts. Gudjohnsen is a good player but he's not a twenty gol-a-season man and let's be honest, neither is Javier but at least he'll give it a go.

FCB's first game without Eto'o is at Bilbao on Saturday. Athletic have yet to win a game this term and have scored only twice. Sammy or no Sammy, the blaugrana should leave the San Mames with three points. The game is on Sky Sports Xtra at 9:30

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's the return of the...

No wait, you're kidding, he didn't just say what I think he did, did he? On Sunday night one of Barcelona's prodigal son's returned to a Camp Nou that rose to it's feet to celebrate his first appearence for the club in over two and a half years. On eighty five minutes Leo Messi's number came up and as he walked to the touchline los culés roared as Javier Saviola made the most unlikely of comebacks.

For the past two seasons FCB have treated Javier like an old boot. On loan first at Monaco and subsequently UEFA Cup winners Sevilla, Barça have tried just about everything to ditch Javier bar changing the locks and getting a restraining order. When he spurned a raft of offers in the summer in order to stay at the club it semed that he would merely spend the final year of his contract playing Catalan Cup games and wondering what Gudjohnsen was doing wearing his number seven shirt. Frank Rijkaard clearly doesn't rate him so it was pretty suprising and heartening to see Javier make a cameo in what, thus far at least, was the most important game of the season.

The match finished 1-1 although a ring-rusty Saviola had a chance to win it late on when he shot straight at Santi Canizares. Los Che looked very solid defensively while at the other end El Moro was left out so David Villa ploughed a lone furrow up front. Valencia were quietly impressive and when they scored mid-way through the first half it looked like being a very long night. That said, their gol did come on the break and in the second half they barely threatened, Joaquin was dreadful, all hat and no cattle and Vicente wasn't much better, fading in the extreme. Barça, much improved in the second fourty five, were giving it away, giving it away, giving it away now in midfield for much of the first period and could easily have leaked a second gol, so sloppy was some of their play.

The introduction of Iniesta for Edmilson had immediate effect as Andreas scored in the fourty eighth minute. FCB's play tightened up and Eto'o and 'dinho looked sharp late on, the former could have had a (very harsh) penalty at the death.

Maxi-mum Force

Speaking as we are of jilted Argentine forwards, Maxi Lopez scored the winner for Mallorca at the weekend as they edged Espanyol 1-0 at the Son Moix.

Klose uber alles

Tonight it's Werder Bremen in the Champions League. I haven't heard any squad news from either side (I'm writing this in Busyfeet and Coco, trying not to spill green tea on the page) though it's a fair bet that the biggest headaches for Barça will be top golscorer at the World Cup, Miroslav Klose and Brasilian fantasista Diego who has, by all accounts, started the season like a freight train. Barcelona have no injury worries and I'd expect Giuly, Thuram, Motta and Gudjohnsen, all rested at the weekend, to come back into the squad.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Beat dis

3-0. Then 5-0. Then 3-0 again. Barcelona have steamrollered all before them in the past seven days; Osasuna thanks to a brace from Eto'o and one from Leo Messi, the frankly hopeless Levski Sofia in the Champions League on Wednesday (even Carles Puyol scored and the team wore the UNICEF logo for the first time) and tonight against Santander, who, despite a few early chances, were very poor indeed, Pedro Munitis in particular. It still took Barcelona until the eighty-fourth minute to score their second, a fine gol by Giuly and 'dinho wrapped it up with a late penalty. FCB had something like 80 percent posession and despite over playing it at times never looked like losing to a team that escaped relegation by only one point last season. Deco and Eto'o, who was kicked out of it by Santander, were very impressive, as was Edmilson. Messi however was off the pace and he substitution was no surprise.

Watching the midweek game against Sofia I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment in that I couldn't help but wonder how a team that bad can make it into the Champions League. Watching Derry City hold their own against PSG on Thursday coupled with Levski's comedic performance in the Camp Nou, one would hope that in the next two or three seasons that a League of Ireland team can, with the aid of a favourable draw (Shels or Cork City would certainly have a good chance against hack and slash merchants like Anderlect), step up and make the group stages.

It's MoTD time now and as I missed all of Grand Slam Sunday (tm) earlier I'm rather looking forward to Premiership football without swooshes, Andy Gray growling and Martin Tyler talking nonsense.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I gotta to escape now

After what seems like an age since the first La Liga game, it's Osasuna at home tonight and following the official conformation of the deal with UNICEF (first mentioned back in July) I'd expect Barça to be sporting their first ever shirt sponsorship against the side from Pamplona that finished in fourth place last year. Since then coach Javier Aguirre has left for Athletico but the squad is as you were bar the addition of Hector Font from Villarreal (plus some other scrubbers like Sorondo from Real Castilla). They lost their opening game at home to Getafe.

The Barcelona squad is as expected, no Saviola but 'dinho and Sylvinho are back in place of Santi Ezquerro and Gio. Still no place for Belletti either. I'd expect a comfortable win this evening. The game kicks off at seven and is live on Sky Sports 3.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Deadline day

It was transfer deadline day yesterday and it was all quiet on the Catalan front. The only news of note was that Javier Saviola has decided to stay at the Camp Nou. Saviola (24) has just one year left on his contract and it looks likely that he'll just bide his time and leave on a free at the end of the season. There was apparently a last minute bid from Aston Villa but why on earth would he want to go there. I don't see him getting a great deal of playing time but with injuries and loss of form, well, you never know.

No doubt you've read all about Tevez, Mascherano, Cole, Gallas, Reyes, Baptista, Olivera et al so... Tevez though, I still can't Adam and Eve it. In-bloody-credible.