Monday, February 25, 2008

Hay Liga

What a week. What a fucking week. Twice Barça came from behind to beat Celtic 2-3 at Parkhead. On Sunday night they hammered five past the frankly hopeless Levante (who are bottom of the La Liga, certain to go down and completely broke) and then watched as Madrid conceded a comical goal ("They have scored a goal against us like in a match for four-year-olds" commented Guti, not kissing his sister in this instance. He's not wrong) to lose to Getafe, leaving the blaugrana only two points off the top. Barcelona were absolutely incredible in their past two games, Henry scoring a sensational gol against Celtic and Eto'o, Messi and Xavi on fire at the Camp Nou last night. All this and Madrid losing for the fourth time in five games (that 7-0 hammering of Valladolid looking more like an anomaly than a statement of intent), Barcelona have come back from the brink (when Drenthe scored the opener against Betis the gap was looking like it was going to widen to a surely unassailable eleven points) and are pushing on with real verve.

Whether they can carry this through the weekend, away to Atletico Madrid, currently in something of a funk, having been dumped out of the UEFA Cup by Bolton and having just one win in their last six in la Liga. Aguero's initial gol glut at the beginning of the season has all but dried up and Forlan is now the only one hitting the back of the net with any kind of regularity. Early on they were winning games 4-3 and 3-2, now they can barely manage a single gol and are still just as leaky at the back. With Sevilla resurgent (and just two points back) they could easily see themselves drop out of the top four this weekend.

Between now and then there's the small matter of the Copa semi-final first leg against Valencia, still floundering under Ronald Koeman but not quite to the same degree as they were two months ago, at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night (9pm on Sky Sports 1). The squad has been announced and the main news is that 'dinho is left out in favour of Henry, who sat out the weekend game. Deco is back too. Given Barça's current form I can't see past a decent home win, 3-0 or 3-1 perhaps (despite their blowing past Levante the visiting side had one or two decent chances, not including the penalty which to be honest looked like a handball from both Zambrotta and Riga) Speaking of Zambrotta, and this is a brief aside I assure you, he seems to be the new Belletti when it comes to holding the line for offside. While the other three defenders are tight he drifted back more than 1nce on Sunday. And it's far from a new thing either. I'm much happier with Puyol out on the right. But then that leaves the problem of who to play in the centre alongside Milito, neither Marquez or old man Lillian Thuram look convincing. Hmmmm...

Cradle snatching

Finally, on a Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique, Fran Merida tip, young blaugrana central defender Marc Muniesa is apparently being tapped by Chelsea. Now in the story I read on Sky Sports his agent denies it but this doesn't come out of no-where and I wouldn't be surprised if the Stamford Bridge side made a play for him after his turns sixteen in March. I guess this is rather inevitable when your youth academy produces so many good players but that makes it none the less very troubling. We'll see how it plays out at the end of next month.

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