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Guest

La Liga Thread

Well seeing as we've (well most of us) all "moved house" I thought I'd start the La Liga thread which (correct me if I'm wrong) hasn't moved as well.

To start with though it's difficult to "get serious" after the death of the young Sevilla player this afternoon..condolonces and sympathys from this house and I (I would imagine) all on this board.

This weekends results..No real shocks 'part from the blank scoresheet the Barca forwards managed to muster.I think that the clash of ego's will hamper them this season.Also a great result for the Yellow submarines against Valencia (did Ayala make his debut for Villareal?)
As for (my "team") Bilbao..it don't look too good with a zero zero against Osasuna..Barca away next week !!!!!
ForzaFiori

I only saw Puerta play once, that being the fantastic Uefa cup final this year at Hampden. In which he more than played his part.
Sad news.
Guest

Whats gone wrong with Skys La Liga coverage...The only time that Bilbao are on is when they are playing the BIGGGER clubs yet this weekends game against Barca is overlooked for Zaragoza v Racing .....Eh ?????? What the f is going on ?
Guest

Re: La Liga Thread

man city nigel wrote:
did Ayala make his debut for Villareal?

He signed for Zaragoza about 6 weeks after joining Villarreal.
Guest

Yes...I noticed that on the box the other night .I must have been on me holidays when "The Mouse" went to Zaragoza.
Why is Ayala nicknamed "The Mouse" ....anyone know ?
Guest

Quote:
Whats gone wrong with Skys La Liga coverage...The only time that Bilbao are on is when they are playing the BIGGGER clubs yet this weekends game against Barca is overlooked for Zaragoza v Racing .....Eh ?????? What the f is going on ?


Sky didn't show Real Madrid v Atlético as planned at the weekend, or the Barca game. They're having contractual problems showing the big boys at the moment, hence Zaragoza v Racing this time!
zeds

Sky did end up showing the Bilbao game after all. Altough waiting for the cricket to finish was a bit frustrating.
Barca were likely with the 3rd "goal" just after Bilbao had got into the game. However, nobody can really argue that Bilbao deserved anything from the game.
Real looked class though I'm not still entirely convinced.
Guest

Watched the whole of the game and to be fair Barca were by far the better team.
Bilbao never got going till after half time when they went to 4 4 2 .Just when they got it to 2-1 Barca got away with a goal that they (initially) never celebrated but an over favourable linesman decided the ball was over the line.
Replays confirmed it was nowhere near...another example of the big clubs getting the rub.
The match report on the Bilbao web site is well worth a read..almost poetic in its condemnation of the team being spineless and the heavy hint of big club favour
zeds

I think Bilbao could really have done with Ezquerro returning but it seems his differences with the board there will n
ot be reconciled.
Guest

zeds wrote:
I think Bilbao could really have done with Ezquerro returning but it seems his differences with the board there will n
ot be reconciled.


Whats the problem with Ezquerro Zeds ? I wasn't aware of anything
Guest

The shirt of the legend

Guest

zeds

man city nigel wrote:
zeds wrote:
I think Bilbao could really have done with Ezquerro returning but it seems his differences with the board there will n
ot be reconciled.


Whats the problem with Ezquerro Zeds ? I wasn't aware of anything


Well, he was all set to return a couple of weeks ago but it seems that he's had a falling out with the board at Bilbao either now or when he left originally which meant he couldn't go back.
Guest

Thanks Zeds...I read it a couple of hours ago on one of the Spanish web sites...Shame ...he could have done a job ..
zeds

By the way who'd in the pic Nige?
Myles

Nigel, those pics are a bit that bit too big for people with dialups!

There's no rule against it, but just saying.

Anyway, doesn't mattter really, as such.
Guest

Sorry about the size of the pix my friends.I was just ponsing about and my daughter showed me how use photobucket.
If it's caused any slow down in logging on I apologise and will look at trying to take them down
First piccy is me (Bilbao tee shirt) and owner Pepe in a bar in Cala D'or Majorca , second one was taken when me and the misses went over for the last game of the season in Bilbao last year.Many apartment balconys have the same flag/message.
Guest

Quote:
Nigel, those pics are a bit that bit too big for people with dialups!



Surely the majority are on broadband now? I know it sounds harsh but surely we cater for the majority.
Guest

I thought it was the ghost of Alan Ball![/quote]
Myles

Giancarlo wrote:
Surely the majority are on broadband now? I know it sounds harsh but surely we cater for the majority.


Yeah you're right.
Dave

Nigel - hope you don't mind, but giancarlo's sensible point notwithstanding, I've downsized your photos a little so they fit on the page without too much right scrolling.

If you prefer 'em as they were, I'll restore them!
Guest

il ferret wrote:
I thought it was the ghost of Alan Ball!
[/quote]


Actually Alan Ball was born half a mile from me !!!

As for the photos , do what you need to accomadate the majority .As stated earlier , I wasn't aware of the ramifications .Hope you liked 'em though
Guest

Think the contract dispute over TV rights has blown up again ...I mean what other reason could there be for Bilbao v Zaragoza being on tomorrow night ?
Guest

I wonder how much longer Coleman will be given at Sociedad - lost both their home games so far, but won both away games. Got 6 points but the leaders, Malaga, have 12.

Anyone wanting to follow spanish segunda, www.soccer-spain.com is all in english and quite good...
Guest

Hope Coleman is given a real chance .I always liked him at Fulham and thought he did a decent job.
Also it will be better for the region with another Basque club in La Liga
zeds

Massive game tonight, Barca v Sevilla.
Sky claim to be showing it, but I won't believe it until I see it
zeds

Massive win for Barcelona last night. Felt Sevilla were hyper-negative. Super first goal from Messi who is easily the best player at the club bar none. Then Poulsen thought he'd get away with intimately bear-hugging Dos Santos in the area and it was game over. Dos Santos who's about 12; so I wouldn't be surprised if Poulsen finds himself on the sex-offenders register
Guest

Didn't watch it. Is Dos Santos that Mexican 12 year old wonderkid from a few years back? Is he any good? How was Henry?
zeds

Yes Dos Santos the Mexican is meant to be the new Messi but I don't think is from that planet to be honest, a decent enough player still.
Henry played well through the centre since 'dinho and Eto'o are out and did well. Hit the post yet AGAIN, and set up the Messi goal, you do feel like it will turn for him though.
Guest

Top win for Bilbao...Some crucial mid table opponents coming up where home points need to be maximised and away points smashed and grabbed.November and December bring some mighty tricky games.
zeds

They're showing Bilbao v Betis tonight Nige.
Guest

zeds wrote:
They're showing Bilbao v Betis tonight Nige.


Thanks Zeddo...I knew anyway.Poor game with very little to trouble either goalie.
One good thing about the telly dispute is that its not always the same clubs on every week..Valencia v Seville tonight
Guest

Hey Nige, are you doing those calcio calendars again for 2008? If so, I'll have one...
Guest

il ferret wrote:
Hey Nige, are you doing those calcio calendars again for 2008? If so, I'll have one...


Hi Ferro..it's a strong possibility and for sure you are on the list.Will keep you posted.
Will probably do it on a different subject this year...mmmm...let me think...any ideas guys ?
Guest

il ferret wrote:
Hey Nige, are you doing those calcio calendars again for 2008? If so, I'll have one...


Hey Ferro...who's the club badge next to your name ??
Liam

man city nigel wrote:
il ferret wrote:
Hey Nige, are you doing those calcio calendars again for 2008? If so, I'll have one...


Hey Ferro...who's the club badge next to your name ??

It's Benfica.
Guest

Bilbao on tomorrow night,,,oh how I love this TV rights dispute
Mezz

Couldn't think of where to put this, and seeing as the La Liga thread was generally regarded as our communal spunk-bucket back in the old place...

Sir George appeared on the old forum a few days ago rightly querying where the fook we all were.

Against my better judgement I replied and directed him towards one of Myles' 'as subtle as a kick in the bollocks' links on the old forum, however, the entire thread was deleted within hours and I doubt George saw it.

Should anyone have an e-mail address for the pompous, miserable old c**t and wish to feel his presence amongst us again, you know what to do.

I'm off to give myself a few lashes with the branch of a thorn bush as penance...
Guest

Does anyone still watch the Spanish footie?

Barca are looking a bit tasty at the moment and I reckon they'll be top in a few weeks. Real v Barca is last game of season and might decide it all.
Guest

il ferret wrote:
Does anyone still watch the Spanish footie?

Barca are looking a bit tasty at the moment and I reckon they'll be top in a few weeks. Real v Barca is last game of season and might decide it all.


Barca look like theyre really comng into some form, watched the first half of the Real game too and they didnt really look up to much against Getafe who look like real solid outfit
zeds

Well there's talk of how Schuster's sides always seem to have a knack of being rubbish in the second half of the season. Real were breaking all types of records wround Christmas but now appear to have well and truly lost their way.
Barca do seem to be gathering momentum at the minute, although, I still don't think they're playing anywhere near the level they were at a couple of years ago.
And for that reason I'd still tentatively back Real, since I think Robinho's injury is the main factor in their blip and when he returns they should turn it around.

The race for the CL appears very fascinating also. Sevilla are well and truly back to their best and while it looked impossible for them to reach finish top four only a month ago, they look im prime position.

At the other end of the table it's very tight also with only 5 points seperating Getafe in 10th and Depor in the relegation zone.  I hope Depor don't go down by the way. I for some reason really dislike Osasuna and hope they do.

The story of the season is certainly got to be Almeria.
Guest

I heard Almeria are really good to watch as an all attacking football side arent they?
zeds

They play lovely attacking football with a real idiosyncratic high pressing formation.
They way they outplayed Real last month was a joy to watch; and has led to Madrid's current woes.

Atletico will have a fight on their hads to finish forth after once again bottling it. They have a relatively weak squad (except a million wingers!) and are over-reliant on Forlan and Aguero.
Guest

how are my our boys espanyol doing?
(our ultra's have a link with theirs)
Guest

Almeria are televised tonight against Barca I think, zeds how do you rate their chances against Barca I might put sneaky bet on them
zeds

Tuten K wrote:
Almeria are televised tonight against Barca I think, zeds how do you rate their chances against Barca I might put sneaky bet on them


Sorry just saw your post mate.

It's 2-2 with a minute or so to go. Almeria snatching an equaliser late on.
I'd like to think I'd have predicted a draw at least for Almeria Tuten, given Barca's injury problems and terrible away form.
Almeria are once again very impressive tonight, they suffered a mini blip in the last few weeks but look very sharp once again.

Watch out for Albert Crusat of Almeria, I think he's a player we'll hear a lot more of in the coming years.

Zico you mention Espanyol. They're having a brilliant season, their best for years mate, and are well in with a chance of a CL finish. It could easily have been better but for their disastrous last month or so (when Raul Tamudo has been injured).

Overall, though I've gotta say this is the poorest La Liga season for years. The leaders Real are in truth a very poor side, and at times have played some woeful football. And yet Real remain comfortably on top thanks to Barca being even worse. Rijkaard is clearly not happy having so many egos to cater to. He remains overly rigid with his formation even when it’s patently obvious that his players aren't all comfortable with it. The Messi, Ronaldinho, Eto'o combo was perfect, but the likes of Henry and Iniesta are clearly not suited to the formation. Ultimately, Rijkaard's stubbornness will lead to Barca finishing second.

Of course, in any normal season the current Barca or Real side would be struggling to even finish in the top two. However, the teams below them have been very very inconsistent.  Villareal were awesome to start with and looked set to challenge for the title but appeared to bottle it and are only just recovering their form and should finish 3rd.

Atletico are just a basket case end of.

Sevilla, of course after tragically losing Antonio Puerta and then Juande to Spurs soon after had a rough start to the season but finally appear to have got back in the groove and should now finish fourth.
The less said about Valencia the better; arguably the best squad in the league they’re troubles have been unbelievable. Sacking a decent manager Quique Sanchez Flores while in reach of the title, bringing in Koeman who doesn’t seem up to it. Massive player churn, players being sacked (Canizares, Angulo and Albelda) and then suing the club (Albelda). Expect massive changes in the summer, if I was a at a big Euro Club I’d seriously look at the likes of Villa, Silva, Albiol and Joaquin, all massive talents, all of whom if they had any sense would be wanting out.
It seems insane but they’re only 4 points above the drop…

The positives as I say earlier have been Almeria and Espanyol. Also, Racing who are having their best season ever (I think), under the guidance of a brilliant manager and young superstar scoring defender Garay.

As I say the league this season has been fairly poor, probably opitimised by the fortunes of Real Zaragoza. They bought in some big names in the summer and were being tipped for a top four finish at least, but now with 10 games to go lie in 16th, out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Guest

I was really impressed with Almeria its always refreshing to see Provincial sides really take it to top teams, pity because after one good season the squad breaks up, De Melo is off to Fiorentina
Guest

After the abandonment of the Betis-Bilbao game what's the chances of Bilbao being awarded the game ?
Guest

I think what they do is reply the game for the remaining 20 or so minutes with the score as it was at that time.
Dave

Zeds - I wouldn't be surprised if the rumours about Benitez trying to get his hands on Villa don't resurface. The way things are at Valencia, Benitez could probably persuade Koeman to do an exchange deal taking that great goal-scoring talent Dirk Kuyt.

Villa is reported to have said that he'll be off at the end of the season, and Spurs are rumoured to be interested in him too. I suspect that if he moves to England he'd want to go to a team in the CL, though, and I doubt that Spurs will be able to offer him that for the 2008-09 season somehow.
zeds

Dave wrote:
Zeds - I wouldn't be surprised if the rumours about Benitez trying to get his hands on Villa don't resurface. The way things are at Valencia, Benitez could probably persuade Koeman to do an exchange deal taking that great goal-scoring talent Dirk Kuyt.

Villa is reported to have said that he'll be off at the end of the season, and Spurs are rumoured to be interested in him too. I suspect that if he moves to England he'd want to go to a team in the CL, though, and I doubt that Spurs will be able to offer him that for the 2008-09 season somehow.


That's a good shout Dave. Valencia'a president has stepped down due to ill health. That may well compromise Valancia's financial situation. Plus, Villa certainly wants out and I was actually surprised he didn't leave last summer.
I'm not sure if Liverpool will be his destination though. I have my doubts as to whether Liverpool will have another splurge (£20m+) in the striking area. Add to this the fact that in Spain there is a belief that Villa and Torres don't operate very well as a pairing as the national side has faired much better by playing one up front.

Saying that, Villa would be a perfect fit for Arsenal's style of play or even Man United's. And if Milan are to look seriously at their striking situation in the summer, they can do a lot worse than David Villa (Spaniard's bad record in Serie A notwithstanding).
Guest

il ferret wrote:
I think what they do is reply the game for the remaining 20 or so minutes with the score as it was at that time.


The wording on the official web site very politely  states that due to the "circumstances" that Bilbao should be awarded the game

Being....

The ball boy tried to hide the bottle

The bottle was an official "in stadium"  product

It's happened  before last year when Wendy Ramos was in charge

If the game is awarded to Bilbao then this could be the begining of a bit of daylight for the Basques...not holding my breath though
zeds

Bilbao have been awarded the 3 points and Betis will have to play 2 games behind close doors.
Guest

zeds wrote:
Bilbao have been awarded the 3 points and Betis will have to play 2 games behind close doors.


Cripes...with last nights win against Getafe the Rojoblancos coulld be heading for a top 6 spot !!
Guest

Just seen the table, and Barca are 3rd. What went wrong - I thought they were doing ok a couple of weeks ago...
zeds

il ferret wrote:
Just seen the table, and Barca are 3rd. What went wrong - I thought they were doing ok a couple of weeks ago...


Now 4 points adrift of Villareal in second with 4 games remaining.

Winning the league for Real has been a stroll.

CL place competition between Atletico, Racing and Sevilla.

Also, at the other end, Levante and Murcia are down...but above them, 6 teams are within 4 points off each other with Valencia and Zara deep in the brown stuff.

Been a strange season all in all, Depor who were fighting relegation a few weeks ago, now lie in 7th only 6 points off a CL place.
VB

Looks like Barcelona's forwards finally found their goal scoring boots...

Barcelona 6 - 0 Valencia

...albeit a little too late!
Guest

Steve Finnan has gone to Espanyol on loan. Seems random as hell. Presumably they needed someone available on the cheap who has highest-level experience in that position. Lucky Steve, in any case, jetting off to sunny Catalonia for a year....
Guest

Liverpool got Riera from Espanyol, so maybe Espanyol wanted someone else in part exchange, so maybe not as random as first appeared.
zeds

Brilliant start to the season....none of Barca, Real, Sevilla, Villareal registered a victory on opening day.
Guest

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport...panish_tuck_into_a_full_engli.htm

Yet another awful article written by an incompetent English journalist with no knowledge of the game beyond the EPL.
His claim that La liga clubs will soon be on the same level as dutch clubs is just stupid.
Dave

Think you may be being a bit harsh there - I read it as him using La Liga as an illustrative vehicle to suggest that if we end up with a proliferation of billionaires running the Prem League clubs there is a risk (not a certainty) that they'll eventually suck the soul from La Liga  - and other leagues - by waving bundles of cash in front of players which they can't refuse, and which, in turn, will lead to La Liga declining (he cites sources from Spain to suggest that some there think this process is beginning) and ultimately becoming an also-ran.

I'd suggest that he'd have been better off using the Bundasliga or France as an comparator, rather than Holland, and his comparison of La Liga turning into a league of sides playing like Bolton (no offence intended, Wanderers fans) seems a little far fetched, to put it mildly.

Granted, some of it is a bit throwaway, but the underlying premise for the article - which is an attack on the Premiership's likely direction rather than a 'slag off La Liga' - seems reasonable to me, even if some of the prophecy presented is a bit OTT.
Guest

Perhaps i was a bit harsh and didnt quite see it like you did, but it did seem poorly researched and his arguments were fairly weak IMO anyway. Would've preferred to see Sid Lowe write an article on the subject.

Gab Marcottis article in the sunday herald is a better article focusing on the man city takeover.
zeds

"From a team of dazzlers, when David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane were there, they (Real) have become a team of fighters, displaying traditional English rather than Spanish virtues."

In what way???
Clearly somebody that never watches La Liga. I didn't really sense a tone of negativity towards mega rich English clubs, more an exaggerated take on the impact on the futrure of Spanish football.
The thing is that over the last decade the top players in the world have wanted to play in La Liga; i.e. Ronaldo (Brasillian), Zidane, Figo, Ronaldinho et al. The decade before that it was Serie A.
The current footballer of the year plays in Italy. Of the two other contenders one (Messi) plays in Spain, and the other (Ronaldo) was desperate to go there this summer.
I'm sure the time will come over the next few years when perhaps the best players in the world actually will want to play in England, but that doesn't necessarily mean doom and gloom for Spain and Italy, just as Spanish and Italian domination over the last 20 years hasn't exactly meant doom and gloom in England.
Most of the best players in the world are of Latin origin which means that both linguistically and culturally Spain and Italy will always be a major draw, no matter how much money is thrown around in England.
The style of play in la liga for me will always be superior to that of the Premiership. This is rooted in the footballing cultures of the places and is taught to players at a young age so isn't about to change for a long time.
Guest

Good post Zeds i believe you've got it spot on. I especially agree that the cultural aspects of life definitely have a heavy impact over the quality of footballers that Spain and Italy produce and the players that want to play there due to this.

I would just like to extend on Zeds comment by stating that i visit Italy every year for a month (usually the south due to my ancestry and relatives) and am always overwhelmed by the sheer quality and knowledge of the game that all men possess there. First of all the scouting system in Italy compared to ours over here in the U.K is head over heels more advanced and structured, they tend to start scouting players in there middle teens from 11-14. The reason for this being is that the academy’s are able to build on the players natural ability, rather than teaching children to use both feet when there 7, by the age of 13 or over the knowledge is already there.

This aspect is mainly due to kids having nothing better to do after school (especially in the south of Italy for example Naples) so they will tend to go out to play football and won't came back home until 9pm. Whereas in England the only football that the boys play is at there club due to a more jam packed life style, this in-turn effects a youngsters knowledge of the game as when your playing on the streets you learn to play against people that are older than you and not only people of your own age therefore understanding how to play against individuals that are more robust and knowledgeable.

English tend to base there scouting on height, fitness and speed ignoring intelligent skilful abilities and playmaking skills, this is maybe why England can never churn out superstars like Baggio, Zola, Del piero, Cannavro and Pirlo. I’ve witnessed friends being dropped by academies not because they lack knowledge or skill but because there to short...this must in-turn mean that if Maradona was playing in the Northampton academy ranks he’d be dropped?

Also I have to state that I’ve been to see my cousins under 7 matches and i have to say that some parents comport them self worse than Napoli ultras in train stations. There are grown men hurling abuse at 7 year olds for not moving into position correctly, that’s an absolute disgrace, the seven year old will learn from his mistakes not from some obese man on the touch line. I was then quite pleased to see in Italy a line surrounding the pitch where no one but the Referee, Mister and Players can cross. This was to prevent the same going ons that occur at under 7 football matches over here in the U.K.

Last but not at all least i have to pay attention to the devastating pitch condition that they have in Italy not only in the south but also up north, I’ve always thought to my self that this must make the development of players dyer and might even dent there playing skills up until recently when my father stated that its actually a positive thing...mhhhhh...I then asked him to extend on his comment and he told me that due to these conditions the players awareness and judgement of the ball becomes inch perfect and almost second nature he then saes to me " HOW DO YOU THINK CANNAVARO HEADS AND KICKS THE BALL AWAY WITH SUCH PRECITION" (oooh how I laughed)  
zeds

Thought I'd revive this thread.

Wonderful weekend in La Liga.
Barca demolishing Almeria, 5-0 up after 37 mins and then just pissing around for the rest of the game.  
Then yesterday, Valencia dropping points, Gijon winning again. The completely insane 4-4 draw between Ateltico and Villareal. Ateltico 2-0 up at half time anfd a man down, Villareal 4-2 up with 7 mins to go....game ends 4-4!!!!!!!!
After that game, the 3-2 home win for Real appeared very dull indeed  
VB

It appears that Huntelaar will be arriving in Madrid during the New Year to fill in the void left by RVN... All I can say is thank God Man City didn’t get the chance to dig their claws in… .but then again...
VB

Denied - just speculation...

http://www.goal.com/en/news/1705/...-reject-reports-of-huntelaar-deal
Guest

He was rubbish for Ajax v Villa.
VB

Real Madrid  
VB

H/T R Madrid 1-3 Seville

Schuster out if Real are beaten by Barca next weekend? I’d love to hear Ronnie’s view on Real this season  
VB

What a game of football  

Shades of Espanyol 2007...
zeds

Van Basten wrote:
What a game of football  

Shades of Espanyol 2007...


Yes, but this time Real were hit by the sucker punch.
Shuster out Ramos in.
was only a matter of time.

Sets up El Grande Classico nicely for Saturday night.
VB

Barca bang 5 past Deportivo! Just how long can they maintain this kind of form? Its nice to see Henry scoring regularly alongside Eto - 45 league goals now between Eto, Henry and Messi!
zeds

Van Basten wrote:
Barca bang 5 past Deportivo! Just how long can they maintain this kind of form? Its nice to see Henry scoring regularly alongside Eto - 45 league goals now between Eto, Henry and Messi!


Their numbers are incredible. That's 50 points half way through the campaign having scored 59 goals in 19 games. Scored nearly 90 goals already in all competitions. To put it in perspective, they've scored 17 more goals than Chelsea (top English scorers) who having played 2 games less.
Henry is beginning to fit in and Messi is so easily the best player in the world its embarrassing.
VB

There's us going on about how many goals Barca have scored so far this season and then only last night what happens? They fail to score for the first time since August!  hehehe

Lets put it down to Henry & Eto not playing, and Messi only making a short appearance late on...
VB

Thats more like it - the 4 goals scored tonight now makes it 92 in total this season! Messi should have scored more! Sublime touch by him that led to Eto's goal, and a wonder dribble that led to Henry's - simply outstanding display. I hope to God they can maintain this form because at the moment (attacking wise) they're playing on a different level to everybody else!
Sir George

I've been pursuing the pointless pastime of watching professional football for decands I'd say that this Barcelona team is playing the best and most entertaining football I've ever seen.  That includes Brazil '82!

Henry is playing well but I think because of Messi's presence he gets a lot more room than he otherwise would.  I don't think he's on the same level as Messi, Eto'o, Xavi and Iniesta.  And if Barca were playing, say, Man Utd, I think Glowering Pep will pick Iniesta instead of Henry and 2 more defensive midfielders.  I can't see him playing all 5, plus Dani Alves, unless 3-0 down from the first leg....Indeed, their first half performance last night perhaps suggested it's not a great idea to play all five in any game.   Maybe too many cooks spoil the broth?  Or maybe just my expectations for consistent brilliance are impossibly high.

On the negative side, Bojan has been a bit hopeless this season, and poor Hleb should have stayed at Arsenal.  Short term financial decisions aren't the preserve of badly run banks and governments!  The boy will be unemployable by the time is Barca contract runs out.
Guest

Sir George wrote:
I've been pursuing the pointless pastime of watching professional football for decands I'd say that this Barcelona team is playing the best and most entertaining football I've ever seen.  That includes Brazil '82!

Henry is playing well but I think because of Messi's presence he gets a lot more room than he otherwise would.  I don't think he's on the same level as Messi, Eto'o, Xavi and Iniesta.  And if Barca were playing, say, Man Utd, I think Glowering Pep will pick Iniesta instead of Henry and 2 more defensive midfielders.  I can't see him playing all 5, plus Dani Alves, unless 3-0 down from the first leg....Indeed, their first half performance last night perhaps suggested it's not a great idea to play all five in any game.   Maybe too many cooks spoil the broth?  Or maybe just my expectations for consistent brilliance are impossibly high.

On the negative side, Bojan has been a bit hopeless this season, and poor Hleb should have stayed at Arsenal.  Short term financial decisions aren't the preserve of badly run banks and governments!  The boy will be unemployable by the time is Barca contract runs out.


Agree with everything you say George, although Hleb was similarly useless at Arsenal. Having watched his pointless 'mazy runs' for three seasons, I can assure you he is almost completely shit.

Appearances - goals - assists
05/06: 25 - 3 - 0
06/07: 33 - 2 - 5
07:08: 31 - 2 - 7

Simply awful for an attacking midfielder, especially considering the tremendous return Bobby Pires gave us for six seasons.
Mezz

Remember on the old forum when you took great exception to me calling Hleb "mediocre" just after Arsenal signed him, Michael?

Ah, good times...

Sir George

Yes, good times indeed, but when the next Sky contract is 30% down on the last one, who's going to pay the Glazer's interest payments?  Not collaborators Sir Alex or Sir Bobster that's for sure.  They'll just be giving it the "I voss only following ze orders" and laughing all the way to the way to their personal high security safes.

It's possibly selective viewing but I thought Hleb was excellent for the Arse.  I'd have his pointless mazy dribbles over Samir Nasri's any day of the week.   Hopefully he'll be back at Arsenal next year with Barca paying his salary uplift.
zeds

I too thought Hleb was good at Arsenal and is missed. Though I would say, give Nasri time and he'll be way better than Hleb.

Thing at Barca is that since Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Eto'o are so brilliant, even good players like Henry and Hleb can look ordinary in comparison.
Henry thought does seem to be playing better, now that he's realised that the whole team won't revolve around him like in his Arsenal days.

This Barca team and perhaps the Barca team of 2005 are the best I've seen in my lifetime.

While I am a fan of Kaka and Ronaldo, I have to say Messi is absolutely magical and easily the best player I've seen play since Zidane.
Guest

Mezz wrote:
Remember on the old forum when you took great exception to me calling Hleb "mediocre" just after Arsenal signed him, Michael?

Ah, good times...



No! Although if that was the case, I'm prepared to concede!

I never remember being a particular fan, though. Struck me at the time that we'd spent a fair amount of money (for Arsenal) on a winger, when we had two excellent (if ageing) ones in Pires and Ljungberg. If I defended him particularly keenly, was probably mostly as a result of various Arsenal player seeming quite average at first, before going on to be top-class players (most notably Overmars, Pires, Henry and Toure).

I wouldn't want him back at Arsenal...although I've almost given up on Tomas Rosicky now. I would, however, love to see Robert Pires back - how's he doing these days at Villarreal? Don't have Sky - have caught a few Barca matches via stream - but no Villarreal.

IMO Arsenal miss Pires more than Vieira, Campbell, Henry, Bergkamp, Cole, or any other of the 'big names' to have departed in the past few years. Dream of a player, seems to be playing a different role these days, from what I hear?
Sir George

I've seen Pires once or twice this seaons and he's not setting the world alight.  Certainly nothing like his Arse peak.  There's no chance of him returning to Arsenal.

Yes Zeds, the 2005 barca team was wonderful and obviously Ronaldinho then was better than Henry now.  Possibly the main difference is that that team tended to just sit back and relax when they were 2 up, whereas this one tends to score 5 before moving down a gear.  I get the impression that they are slightly better organised now too, but maybe that's just that Guardiola has the impressive look of a Mafia boss on a big job.

If there were a God, Barca would win the Champions League at a canter, but of course there is no God and they will more than likely come unstuck when playing a well organised English team, well-drilled at the proverbial "set pieces".
zeds

Hmmm when I've seen Pires play he's been incredible, considering his age. He's afforded a free role and dictates most of Villareal's attacking play. Of course he's not hit the heights of his peak at Arsenal but is still a very useful player.

The 2005 Barca team was more of a dream team in some ways. Ronaldinho was unstoppable, Messi, alarmingly good for one so young. Eto'o deadly. Deco could unlock any defence.
I always think Rijkaard doesn't get enough credit for creating this side. He implemented the 3 up system that we still see, which meant that even with Guily out wide before Messi, Barca looked a real force.

This Barca side tends to be more fluid in that you often see Toure or Keite (holding midfielders) in the box. Whereas Motta/Edmilson were never really that industrious. I think that's key, they have far better defensive midfielders now who protect the back 4. Also, they have better full backs. Abidal is good at his job and has improved. Alves is incredible, has so much energy and a knack for getting behind defences.  

The squad as a whole has far more quality now also.  

Not sure who commented on Bojan being 'hopeless'. I think that's a bit harsh. There's a feeling at the club that he was pushed too hard last season and overplayed (mainly because of Ronaldinho and Eto's tantrums and 'injuries'). I think he suffered a panic attack when he first got called up for Spain. Guardiola's being a lot more careful with him and is trying to ease him in by playing him in the Copa del Rey etc.

I thought it was shocking that United played the way they did against Barca last season. If they play the same way, I think Barca have more about them to break United down.

Though I do agree, an English team will probably manage to stifle the life out of them somewhere down the road.
Mezz

Michael La Viola wrote:

No! Although if that was the case, I'm prepared to concede!


To be fair, Arsenal had only just signed him and he hadn't played a game for the club yet. It was luck more than judgement that he turned out to be 'mediocre' in the end, but try and stop this guy when he's on a wind-up!
Mezz

zeds wrote:

I thought it was shocking that United played the way they did against Barca last season.


Playing a defensive, counter attacking game in both legs is what saw us through to the final.

If we had tried to match Barca attack for attack over the two legs we undoubtedly would have gone out, but Fergie got the tactics spot-on for both fixtures.

I understand that 'neutrals' want to see exciting, attacking football in European Cup games, but I can't see why it would be "shocking" that one team tried (and succeeded) in stifling a fluid, creative opposition when that was exactly what was required in order to reach the final?
Liam

Mezz wrote:
zeds wrote:

I thought it was shocking that United played the way they did against Barca last season.


Playing a defensive, counter attacking game in both legs is what saw us through to the final.

If we had tried to match Barca attack for attack over the two legs we undoubtedly would have gone out, but Fergie got the tactics spot-on for both fixtures.

I understand that 'neutrals' want to see exciting, attacking football in European Cup games, but I can't see why it would be "shocking" that one team tried (and succeeded) in stifling a fluid, creative opposition when that was exactly what was required in order to reach the final?

Agreed.  On the rare occasions a team comes to Leicester this season and attacks, they seem to get heaped with praise by the commentators, even though both teams that did it recently got thumped, while some teams who played more defensively managed to get a draw, or even a win in one case.

Any winning coach would always do what was required to win, and not attack just to win neutral fans.
Guest

zeds wrote:
Hmmm when I've seen Pires play he's been incredible, considering his age. He's afforded a free role and dictates most of Villareal's attacking play. Of course he's not hit the heights of his peak at Arsenal but is still a very useful player. .


Cheers Zeds, glad to hear it.
zeds

Mezz wrote:
zeds wrote:

I thought it was shocking that United played the way they did against Barca last season.


Playing a defensive, counter attacking game in both legs is what saw us through to the final.

If we had tried to match Barca attack for attack over the two legs we undoubtedly would have gone out, but Fergie got the tactics spot-on for both fixtures.

I understand that 'neutrals' want to see exciting, attacking football in European Cup games, but I can't see why it would be "shocking" that one team tried (and succeeded) in stifling a fluid, creative opposition when that was exactly what was required in order to reach the final?


That's just it, if United had attacked that Barca side of last season they would've settled the tie at the Camp Nou. Defensively, last season Barca were all over the place. Add to that Puyol missing the first leg.
Plus if you look at what makes the current Barca side so good going forward, i.e. Eto'o, Messi and Henry, all three had issues. Eto'o was having a so so time of it, Messi was only just recovering from injury and wasn't fully fit and Henry was poor.
Not to mention Ronaldinho not playing in either game.
I felt United were unduly afraid of Barca and missed a great opportunity to put up a more aesthetically pleasing display.  Yes, they won and it's probably pointless to be arguing over this, but I think on a another level United's inferiority complex in Europe really did show in the tie.
VB

8 wins in a row now for Real! And Raul breaks Di Stefano's goal scoring record! Should be a great encounter between them and Liverpool.
VB

It looks like it will be nine wins on the trot for Real tonight! KJ-H is looking better by the minute! Can't wait for the Liverpool tie!
zeds

Van Basten wrote:
8 wins in a row now for Real! And Raul breaks Di Stefano's goal scoring record! Should be a great encounter between them and Liverpool.


Raul is looking absolute class again. His two goals at the weekend were absolutely delicious.
However, Liverpool do have this horrible, functional approach to these games which will probably see them edge the tie.
Guest

Espanyol beat Barca!
VB

zeds - Raul is looking absolute class again. His two goals at the weekend were absolutely delicious.

Vintage Raul - absolutely brilliant display.

zeds - However, Liverpool do have this horrible, functional approach to these games which will probably see them edge the tie

Normally I would agree with you there, but I have a feeling this season might just be the exception to that sick habitual ‘functional approach’ that they usually seem to possess! I suppose much depends on whether Stevie G plays tomorrow night (doubtful, I think).
zeds

Van Basten wrote:
zeds - Raul is looking absolute class again. His two goals at the weekend were absolutely delicious.

Vintage Raul - absolutely brilliant display.

zeds - However, Liverpool do have this horrible, functional approach to these games which will probably see them edge the tie

Normally I would agree with you there, but I have a feeling this season might just be the exception to that sick habitual ‘functional approach’ that they usually seem to possess! I suppose much depends on whether Stevie G plays tomorrow night (doubtful, I think).


Yep, went to script for Rafa.  

Only Robben looked a threat for Real. Raul got no service, but didn't drop deep searching for it which was a surprise. Sneijder was a big miss.
VB

zeds wrote:
Van Basten wrote:
zeds - Raul is looking absolute class again. His two goals at the weekend were absolutely delicious.

Vintage Raul - absolutely brilliant display.

zeds - However, Liverpool do have this horrible, functional approach to these games which will probably see them edge the tie

Normally I would agree with you there, but I have a feeling this season might just be the exception to that sick habitual ‘functional approach’ that they usually seem to possess! I suppose much depends on whether Stevie G plays tomorrow night (doubtful, I think).


Yep, went to script for Rafa.  

Only Robben looked a threat for Real. Raul got no service, but didn't drop deep searching for it which was a surprise. Sneijder was a big miss.


Good call, zeds. I was being uncharacteristically optimistic on this one and so missed the mark by a mile!  

The result leaves me felling a little ill! oh well...
zeds

Van Basten wrote:


Good call, zeds. I was being uncharacteristically optimistic on this one and so missed the mark by a mile!  

The result leaves me felling a little ill! oh well...


To be fair, it was a terrible game. Both sides showed why they're so off the pace in their respective leagues.
Juande's sides are usually better on the counter attack so at Anfield all might not be lost, especially is Sneider and Robben play.
Sir George

I thought Liverpool were very good, albeit against over-rated and over-hyped opposition.  Liverpool might have a "horrible" and "functional" approach, but better than the horrible and dysfunctional stuff we've seen from most of the Spanish and Italian teams over the last 2 days.

Barcelona have played glorious, dream-like football this season, but it's beginning to dawn that is at least partly down to the fact that La Liga is pretty poor.  It certainly ain't what it used to be.   The Ferg was absolutely correct in suggesting that the winner of the CL would almost certainly come from one of the English clubs or Barca.   Must as it pains me to say it the English clubs are now way ahead of everybody except Barca and the latter's increasing flakiness defensively makes one worry for them.
Guest

What is it about Liverpool that makes them so utterly boring to watch? I can't stand them.

I'm not one for all-out attacking football; I appreciated Porto's Champions League win, for example, or Greece in Euro 2004.

Liverpool adopt a similar position to that Greek side - nick a goal from a set piece and nick it 1-0, but manage to do it incredibly tediously, to the point I almost can't watch them.

Agree with George; Real were (and are) poor. Very poor.
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