Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We gonna run this town tonight

There was much to be happy about tonight at the Camp Nou. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a quite brilliant game for Barça. Despite not scoring he was absolutely outstanding, constantly threatening, incredibly sharp and linked brilliantly with Iniesta, Xavi, Kieta and Messi. Second up, the blaugrana defense, Carles Puyol and Abidal in particular, were fantastic. Puyol was so impressive, his reading of the game, his tackling and range of passing, he was runnin' tings from the back. I know I like to gush about Carles but it does gall me when the likes of Sid Lowe and Graham Hunter get on his case, dismissing him as this rash, lumbering fool who likes to dive in and gets caught out thanks to his ineptitude. Dynamo are hardly Real Madrid or Manchester United but he did what he had to do with real pomp and verve. Nothing quite as good as that Cruyff turn against Russia in the Euros but still...

Moving swiftly along, Iniesta only lasted 45 minutes tonight, which is *insert pause to listen to Pep's interview on Sky Sports* probably as much was he was able for. He played well. His replacement, Pedro, was rather poor, his gol aside, most of the attack in the second half went down the right through Alves and Messi. That said, he took his gol very well, quick feet, an excellent finish after more good work from Zlatan.

So all in all, a solid and very entertaining win that kept me from starting Doug Coupland's Generation A. Which is what I'm going to do now...
One month in

The last time Andriy Shevchenko set foot on the Camp Nou turf was on the 26th of April, 2006. He was leading the line for AC Milan alongside Super Pippo, scoring a wrongly disallowed gol (for a non-foul on Charles Puyol) in one of the last games he would play for the Rossoneri before his disastrous spell at Chelsea. Tonight he's back 1nce again, on his 33rd birthday, in the white and blue of Dynamo Kyiv.

It's been a rapid decline for Sheva since that night. His time at Chelsea was characterised by long spells out of the side, either on the bench or more often, in the stands, injured or simply left out of the squad altogether buy successive managers who didn't want anything to do with him. He was unstoppable at the San Siro yet he never even got going at Stamford Bridge. After three dreadful seasons he was loaned back to Milan where he huffed and puffed behind Pato, the evergreen Pippo Inzaghi and another man who's star is very much on the wane, Ronaldinho. Now, in a complete rewind, he's wearing the number 7 shirt for Dynamo. I'm quite looking forward to seeing him back in the Champions League. Now that's he's left Chelsea it's quite okay to like him again.

I doubt however, that he'll be blazing much of a trail this evening. Having seen Barça carve teams up in the past few weeks, they've been particularly impressive in the past two weeks against Racing and Malaga, with that Swedish fellow I don't much care for playing really well (and more to the point, quite unselfishly) He's still a bit slow and taking far too many touches but he'll improve. Young Leo has been in scintillating form and combining brilliantly with Zlatan and Henry, who's not in the match squad tonight thanks to a hamstring injury. Off the treatment table and making his first start of the season, on left of the front three is Andreas Iniesta, the man responsible for my leaping out of the chair and uncontrollable screaming of 'Gollllllllllllll!' on a balmy night in London. Iniesta has made only a few appearances from the bench thus far and I'm hoping he can last 90 minutes.

Right, this game is about to start. Match report and more musings later.