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.

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