martes, 25 de agosto de 2009


FC Barcelona have just won the Spanish Supercopa, turning their 2009 treble into a quadruple. This Friday it could become a quintuple with the European Supercup in Monaco versus Shakhtar Donetsk, and in december a sextuple with the Club World Cup. Yes, I do count national and European season openers among the trophies that go into a '-ple', because they are proper trophies. Number one, they're not invitational tournaments like the Wembley Cup, or the Peace Cup, or whatever other summer jamboree. You have to qualify, and the qualification requirements are very strict: win your league or your cup. Or at least, lose the cup final against the double winners. Number two, there are referees, and televisions, and tickets are sold for good money, and you're only allowed three substitutions, so they are proper and official matches. And number three, there is an actual piece of silverware being handed out at the end. If sometimes a team doesn't take them seriously, that's their right, but those trophies do count. Having said that, of course they have to be considered as lesser prizes, but prizes nonetheless.

Anyway, Barcelona have beaten Athletic de Bilbao 5-1 over two legs (2-1 away, 3-0 at home), and although the plucky Basques are not the hardest opposition Barça will encounter all season, the omens are good for all Culés and bad for everyone else. They have shown the same dazzling array of attacking options as last year. The only difference is that with Zlatan Ibrahimović at the front instead of Samuel Eto'o they will score Ibrahimović-like goals instead of Eto'o-like goals, but be assured that there will be plenty of them. More headers, maybe, and less pacy sprints, but Barça have plenty of speedy forwards already, and Ibra was bought to add something the others can't. Leo Messi, for one, scored one on Sunday with one of his inimitable dribble-and-chip moves, so the guy hasn't lost his touch.

The Swede hasn't scored yet, but he's come very close, and he only looks a final polish away from being able to bang them in in braces and hat-tricks. Maybe it's just an impression of mine, but he seems to have been contaminated by the kind of super-cool, slow-hand, don't-break-a-sweat, effortless glide that both Barça and Thierry Henry are famous for. He seemed to be thinking that he could get away with an extra pass, or with taking an extra second to decide. It happens to many players who come to Spain from the Italian league: they suddenly think that some imaginary shackles have been broken and that they will have more time on the ball and will face less demanding defenders. Nothing that can't be fixed, though. Usually players with an Italian experience are big hits in Spain, and I'm sure Ibrahimović will shine.

In the absence of goals from Ibrahimovic or Henry, the press is making much of the fact that all of Barça's goals in pre-season have been scored by 'jugadores de la cantera' ('players from the local quarry'). The 17 Barcelona goals between July and August so far have been scored by Messi (4), Bojan Krkić (4), Pedro Rodríguez (4), Jeffren Suárez (3), José Manuel Rueda (1) and Xavi Hernández (1), all of whom have played before for Barça's B or even C teams. So their bought stars are brilliant, and their home-grown products score goals for fun. These guys just can't stop getting cooler, can they?

Well, yes, they can. As I said before, Barça clobbered Athletic with all they had, and only some heroic rearguard action, with plenty of last-ditch blocks from desperate bodies in read and white stripes, prevented a tennis score (no, you won't get cricket metaphores from me). So, with all they have to offer, it's very disappointing that their second goal had to come from a penalty won with a blatant dive by Brazilian right-back Dani Alves. If there's a weapon they don't need to add to their armoury, that's the one, and I'm afraid they do seem to get some sympathy from referees in this department. Last year this was a common complaint from rivals, but at the speed many Barça forwards charge into the penalty area, it's no wonder than refs look as hopeless as someone running against Usain Bolt.

Answers here or at:

2 comentarios:

Sianeta dijo...

Barça. The best team in the world, isn't it, Ro? (jejejjee)

Rogorn dijo...

Not yet. In Europe, yes. But let's wait until the Cub World Championship in December ;)