Monday, October 08, 2007

The Big Easy

It wasn't the 6-0 hammering they dished out last time but Sunday's 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid was about as comprehensive as they come. Aided and abetted in no small part by Abbiati's dropping of Messi's cross at Deco's feet after only fifteen minutes for the Portuguese to score the opener, Atletico were torn apart by Messi, Iniesta and the afore mentioned Deco, who had a fabulous game. Valdes was again in fine form and made a few sharp saves when the defense had their requisite wobble followed by a mild panic. That said, for the most part the back four were solid, Puyol and Milito look a good pairing at the centre of defense.

Considering there was so much talk before the game of Aguero vs. Messi, El Kun was pretty disappointing, not registering a single shot on target and failing to ignite. But he was far from alone, Forlan, Simao, Reyes, all were fairly poor though ex-blaugrana Luis Garcia looked sharp when he came on.

With Madrid winning 2-0, Barcelona are still two points back with Villarreal away coming up next weekend.

One last thing worth pointing out is that Barcelona finished the game with eight players who've come through the ranks at La Masia, which is pretty incredible. Dos Santos put in a super cross for Xavi's gol late on and both he and Bojan look like stepping up to the first team ala Messi and Iniesta in the past three years.

The ArenA to the Bridge

Former Barcelona assistant coach Henk Ten Cate has left Ajax to become assistant to Avram Grant at Chelsea. After his incredible success alongside Frank Rijkaard, Ten Cate's reign at the ArenA was somewhat up and down, being dumped out of Europe at the first hurdle two years running (they lost both Champions League and UEFA Cup qualifiers) and while they did lose out to PSV only on gol difference last season in the
Eredivisie, the lack of European futbol hasn't done him any favours. Still he leaves Ajax just one point behind PSV and having won the Dutch Cup last season so his time as coach was far from a disastrous one. Daan Schippers from The Guardian wrote a good article about Ten Cate to Chelsea. Have a read of it here.

What he'll make of the mess at Chelsea remains to be seen. I'd be quite surprised to see Grant survive past Christmas should the Blues drop out of contention for the Premier League.

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