Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Forget Paris

Barca 1 Liverpool 2

Valdes was terrible, gifting Liverpool their first goal (although leaving Craig Bellamy unmarked at the back post was not his fault). Marquez showed why he had previously been yanked from central defense, especially with a mystifying attempted clearance for Liverpool's second that forced Seamus Malin to dig deep into his Harvard-educated mind to find the right words. (He ended up using "shambolic," which was pretty appropriate. The next time you hear "shambolic" during an NFL game, let me know.) The marking on set pieces, always questionable, is now downright indifferent. The midfield was able to create precious little. Barcelona look like a team that have never played together, which is unfortunate after their teamwork has been a hallmark of their run over the past several years. I wanted to get angry at Liverpool for playing everyone behind the ball and there was a certain element of that, but they created more chances. The old Barca would have cut ribbons through the Liverpool defense and midfield with passing and movement, but the current Barca doesn't move properly without the ball and they don't find one another on the rare occasions that they do pass properly. Leo Messi's inability to see an unmarked Ludovic Giuly at the backpost on Barca's one good attack in the second half was emblematic of the team's inability to link up with one another.

It's quite clear that Eto'ogat'e (maybe a better title would be "L'Affaire d'Eto'o?" French scholars, is that acceptable?) and the rumors of Frank Rijkaard's departure have damaged this team, although those issues might be symptoms more than causes. Maybe the team will be better with Thuram in central defense, Messi back on form, and Eto'o striking instead of Saviola, but those players won't cause the midfield to glue the team together again. Johan Cruyff recently remarked that Barca appeared to be reaching the end of a four-year cycle and the team would need to be shaken up. I had hoped that he was wrong, but it's looking like he has a point.

Rob Smyth, take it away.


footbal tickets said...

thw eto's incident has taken a toll on barca's morale which reflected in their performance against liverpool.

Liverpool too had internal problems with the incident of ballamy and risse.But they turned this crisis into a victory.this is what a captain of gerrard's caliber can do to the team's morale.

Tim said...

I don't know why every barca fan I know is so down on Saviola. From what I could ascertain, he was a bright spot yesterday (and for the last month or so).

Michael said...

Puyol functions in the same role as Gerrard. The problem at Barca is apparently that there are divisions between the coach and upper management and the players are on different sides. Alternatively, the problem is not one of dissension, but rather that: (1) Rijkaard's subs threw the team totally out of whack; and (2) Marquez has been crap this year and Barca have therefore lacked a good defensive pairing for Puyol.

Saviola did some good work last night, but he had 2-3 great opportunities and hit each one right at the keeper. He's much better than Gudjohnsen and he was the least of the team's problems last night, but he's not a huge asset.

Kanu said...

I am certainly biased because SE9 is my fave Barca player, but they seem to miss him terribly, especially his runs at and behind the defense, which tend to stretch the defense and leave room for R10 and LM19 to operate. R10 nor Messi had much room to operate yesterday, which is partly because of this and partly because 'Pool did a good job of closing them down - Sissoko did especially well in the 2nd half in his def. MF role.

Of course, yesterday was down to a terrible howler by VV - pretty simple. If Matt LeBlanc doesn't concede there the match would likely have turned out rather differently - you could see the change in belief/attitude of both teams in the 2nd half after Pool scored.

Should make for a cracking match in 2 weeks at Anfield. Will Eto'o be back? Will he play? Will he make a difference?

I'm actually torn on what to pull for, so I have just been pulling for good footie. As someone who likes Barcelona, I would prefer for them to beat Liverpool, a team that I am neutral about, in a vacuum. On the other hand, if Liverpool can knock off the favorites to win the whole thing, they would be doing Arsenal and everyone else a big favor going forward. Of course, that is assuming that Arsenal do go forward, which is very much in doubt at this point.

I think Barca are most vulnerable in this round. If they make it through they will only be tougher and tougher to beat with Eto'o returning to the team and the massive mental lift that would result in going to Anfield and getting the needed result. If they can do that, look out...

Michael said...

Eto'o's return isn't going to cause Rafa Marquez to take his head out of his ass. Barca haven't won a road game since November. This tie is over.

Kanu said...

I respectfully disagree.

They are alot more likely to score the 2 goals they need with SE9 in the lineup. Not only that, they are alot more likely to run 'Pool ragged by keeping more possession and creating more space in the way I previously described. Of course they will need to go 90 minutes without a terrible howler from Matt LeBlanc or Rafita, but it is possible.

Beyond rational analysis, it's football man, and all things are possible: red cards, penalties of the dodgy or non-dodgy variety, injuries, Benitez going insane and playing Stevie G out on the right like he does sometimes, etc., etc.

I have a funny feeling that Barca are going to do the business...

Michael said...

Well, it wouldn't be the first time that a team needed a 2-0 result at Anfield and got it:

Kanu said...


Not to mention that they lost at Anfield to Arsenal 1-3 in the FA Cup and then again 2 days later 3-6 in the Carling Cup last month.

And few would argue that Barca are a better side than Arsenal, so it certainly is within the realm of possibility.

Speaking of needing a 2-0 win, I'll take one of those myself please {over PSV}.