Hello, I am Geri Pique. This is an article I’ve been asked to write (just like they ask Cruyff sometimes!) proposing strategies to deal with the current crisis. And I am very concerned. Very concerned indeed. Our defender situation, as you might have observed, is rather dire. Puyi’s gone off and had knee surgery, Alba has torn a muscle and Adriano is…well, Adriano, so he’s injured. That leaves just Masche, Dani and me. With Dani pretending he is Neymar, and Masche off to play in Bolivia at some insane altitude with the aid of hyperbaric chambers, it’s no wonder that my Barca teammates have been following me around with cushions all day. As MD sums up the situation so well…
Archive for March, 2013
We never tire of stating the obvious and of using many words and valuable space to do so. And the fact that Barca doesn’t play its next game till a week later was a good opportunity for a quick dive into the archives to unearth some Pep Guardiola gems that are especially apt for the situation. So here goes.
1. Footballers are people
That’s an old Pep quote. Taken from the Independent. Pep is usually correct, so we will take his word for it that our footballers are actually people and not precision automatons mass manufactured in La Masia underground genetic laboratory. Which usually means a certain degree of fallibility and fatigue however much we like to scream “we want to see 110% every game, against every opposition no matter how good, for the nth year running, irrespective of whether you have a coach or not!”. Sometimes it is hard to invest 110% if you are unsure of the plan and unsure if everyone is in sync in the first place.
Everything was carrying on as usual in Barca land. And then one fine sunny day in the beginning of February, Jordi Alba went to visit a friendly neighborhood doctor. He had a burning question and nobody was giving him a satisfactory answer.
So what’s different between last season and this season so far, apart from Alba and attitude? It’s not like the injury curse has let up. And we still suck at defending set pieces, though there might be a marginal improvement in taking them (mainly because Dani has been banned from coming anywhere near a stationary ball). Cesc’s hairstyle has shown no improvement whatsoever, except to get him detained at Russian airports for looking suspiciously like he snuck in along with the cargo (come on, we all know the passport issue was just a front). Pique’s beard comes and goes, and Puyol’s curls remain as immaculate as ever. Sanchez is still unable to shake off his personal battle with gravity that he inherited from Bojan. And no one has banned Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Busi from playing together in the interests of fair competition. Yet. But there are some stark differences that we really ought to highlight, just so we can gain more insight about the game we all love.
1. The sideline show
Who can forget Pep gesturing frantically from the sidelines, his gestures growing increasingly animated with the number of goals Barca is leading by? Or Pep thwarting Xavi’s attempts to drink water with a series of urgent instructions? Or Pep giving Cesc a friendly shove for joking about the mental anguish of seeing Barca send a hundred and twenty seven chances evenly distributed to goal posts and crossbar? A quiet, introspective Pep would have had us all worried sick and taken out half the fun in watching a Barca game.
So we decided to use this international break to conduct a Ballon d’Or RoundTable with some of the candidates because…well, why not? Yeah it is *cough* completely made up *cough* of course but we didn’t have anything better to do with our time, and it’s better than scouting for random goal celebration videos and spinning a story to go with it! Moreover, with Spain national team flying to Panama for a mid-week international friendly and Argentina national team flying to Riyadh for another mid-week friendly, it keeps our minds off the dreaded I-word anyway (image via @BarcaMorocco). So here goes!
After a long-ish time, Barca get an entire week to do whatever it is that they do in training sessions without a mid-week game interruption. According to MD, this is the first week without a midweek game since start of the season, and if everything goes as planned in Champions League, likely the last till end of Hlebruary. Which does make it sound a rare event, you know, like a solar eclipse. Tito Vilanova gets to go off and eat paella and visit the cinema theater without trying to figure out a formation where Barca can play without any defenders.