Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gonna. Get it. Together. Watch it!

I know just how Xavi feels. Barcelona have two away wins thus far this season (1-4 at the worst side in La Liga, Levante, and 2-0 at Stuttgart) They ought get their third tonight in the Copa del Rey at CD Alcoyano, a Valencia based side who play in the Segunda B.

The squad for tonights kick about is as expected. 'dinho, Messi and Milito are away for World Cup qualifiers, Zambrotta is suspended and Santi "I can't catch a break" Ezquerro has a groin injury. Marquez is back, having recovered from brain freeze or a mild form of amnesia or whatever he's been suffering of late. He'll likely start in the centre of defence. Number two golkeeper Jorquera, Marc Crosas, Bojan and Gio Dos Santos should be in from the jump off too. I don't think the game is on tv here to I'll post up a link to highlights later on.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's like deja vu all over again...

"Those responsible are the players as we are the ones who have to fight. I am worried. After every game we say the same things but another two weeks go by and the same thing happens again."

"We try to play our football but our rivals put more into it than us and if we don't put more in we don't win. They played more as a team. You have to look at the way you lost and this is what worries me. We are not playing as a team and everyone can see that."

"We need to speak among ourselves but it is clear that we cannot continue like this. We are the first ones who want to forget about last season but what we are doing reminds us of last year."

Carles Puyol after Saturday night's defeat away to Getafe. He is of course right.

Having defeated Rangers 2-0 during the week without really having to try (both iron man Puyol and Iniesta were fantastic against Gers, who were incredibly poor) it was back to earth with a bang in Madrid. It was the same old story. The blaugrana dominated possession but could do nothing with it. Getafe, a limited but disciplined team, had a few chances and put them away. Barcelona on the other hand, failing to get the first gol, became more and more frustrated and until the wheels completely came off with Zambrotta's sending off on eighty-five minutes.

One really has to wonder when Barcelona are going to get over this hump. After the meltdown that was last season it was all going to be different. The defense was re-enforced with Milito and Abidal, and Toure added some more steel to the midfield. They were no longer going to be the soft pushovers they were last time out when they came up against strong, physical sides. How little has changed. Now third behind Real and Villarreal, the blaugrana look to have learned nothing from the fiasco that was the second half of the 06/07 season.

Watching Puyol on Wednesday night was inspiring stuff, he was everywhere. His teammates would do well to watch and listen to Carles. Otherwise there'll be a whole lot more wailing and gnashing of teeth come May.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Seven of Nine

So what have we learned from the past three games? Barça still can't win away from home. Thierry Henry is ever so slowly adapting to the blaugrana's style of play (witness his gol against Betis). 'dinho, three gols in two games, still isn't right but that overhead kick did show that he's making progress. Deco is sorely missed, he won't be back for at least another three weeks. Yaya Toure adds the bite to the midfield that they've been missing. Rafa Marquez seems to have hit his head and forgotten how to play futbol. Charly Puyol is a fantastic attacking right back. And despite their not playing all that well Barcelona are but a point off the top.

It's Gers at the Camp Nou tonight. Zambrotta is out thanks to an ankle ligament injury and is replaced by Milito. Gaby will probably start in the centre of defence with Thuram with Charly powering forward down the right (he's probably a good bet for a gol tonight). The full squad is:

Valdés, Jorquera

Márquez, Puyol, Oleguer, Sylvinho, Milito, Abidal, Thuram

Xavi, Iniesta, Toure (rather thin in midfield isn't it?)

Henry, Bojan, Giovani, Messi, Ronaldinho, Gudjohnsen

This will be the first game since the Almeria match which featured a whole lot of huffing and puffing but little else. My Dad tells me that they were much improved against Betis after a woeful performance against Valladolid ("Marquez is absolutely rubbish"). I'd expect the game to go much like the last time out against Gers 'cept with Barça putting away three or four gols.