False hope pt. 2
I just don't know anymore. I really don't. How many chances do they need? Despite the fact that Madrid have lost four of their last seven in La Liga, Barcelona are still somehow seven points back, closer to Villarreal in third than they are to the leaders. Tonights game away to Almeria was nothing short of a disaster. To twice take the lead only to throw it away, to concede two such sloppy, lazy gols, the second a mere five minutes from time was shocking. The blaugrana are seemingly incapable of closing out games or defending a narrow lead. The difference last season between Real and Barcelona was that while Capello's side won games in the last ten minutes, Rijkaard's team blew them. And so it continues.
With just ten games remaining I can't see how this can have a happy ending. With a laundry list of players out injured (Messi, Marquez, Toure, Ronaldinho, Ezquerro, Deco, Jorquera, Giovani and now Gudjohnsen), with Milito now suspended for the Copa game on Thursday (don't get me started on the idiotic challenge that earned him a second yellow card), they're going to struggle to put eleven fit players out in the next two games let alone win either of them (there were three Barça B players on the bench tonight).
There were some positives from this evening's debacle, Bojan's gol, Rijkaard's attacking substitution of Henry for Edmilson turned the game in Barcelona's favour (before Uche turned it back again) and erm, that's it really. It was grim viewing.
Before I close the mac, a quick word about the blaugrana's opponents in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, German bottlers Schalke 04. Nine points off leaders Bayern and languishing in fifth place, the Gelsenkirchen side are, along with Fener, the weakest side left in the last eight and considering Barcelona's current run of form, the best possible draw they could have gotten. My sole experience of Schalke this year was the half-hour of extra time they played against FC Porto and their golkeeper, Michael Neuer aside, I can't say I was all that impressed. Now of course this thirty minutes of futbol is hardly a basis for judging them but it's all I've got so bear with me, I'll post something more comprehensive later in the week. For now I'll say this, Barcelona will probably squeak through only to get turned over by Utd. in the semis. And that sadly is about the best we can hope for.
Anyway... it's over yo.