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Dec 28, 2007

The rumors about Ronaldinho's departure from Nou Camp could have only strengthened by his failure against Madrid. No other player in this current side can commence loyalty from the Nou Camp fans like this man. For the regular Nou Camp fans he has been an emotional hero. The time when he reached Barcelona he was just another kid, but he turned this side into a world winning team in his first two seasons. When he arrived at Barcelona was rebuilding from a very bad phase in their history - Madrid's Galacticos policy (it was a total failure) overshadowed the Barcelona club. They were losing good players to their main rivals and were nowhere in picture in European competition. But Ronaldinho’s heroics against all odds turned the prayers of Barcelona fans to reality. No one will ever deny the fact that he was responsible for the great results we had in the past three years.

When Ronaldinho arrived in Barcelona the club and he had so many things in common. Both have to prove a point. Ronaldinho was heralded as the brightest talent to come out of Brazil in recent times, but his performance was never justifying it. He had a great world cup, but again those performances were far in between. For the Barcelona fans he was the only hope left to come out of the Galacticos shadow and reclaim their lost stature in Spain and Europe. Together they overcame all the obstacles. He was the main person responsible for the two Spanish league titles and the Champions league (surprising only the second one) which Barcelona won. Once again Barcelona reclaimed the stature of the best club in Europe and looking poised for more big things; but somewhere both stumbled. Ronaldinho was rightly criticized for his poor performance in last world cup, but everyone expected him to comeback to this Barcelona side and shows his magic along side the likes of Messi. But he failed terribly.

There was recent rumors of his addiction (over addiction) to nightlife and his lack of interest in training. As a big Ronaldinho fan I never believed these allegations but now i have to say that i slowly started believing it. His performance on the field justifies these allegations. Lack of training was clearly seen on field where he struggled to go past ordinary defenders. To add insult to injury Barcelona started playing better without him (Two season ago the story was different). Barcelona based media have been asking for his head for sometime, but to his rescue the Nou Camp fans still vociferously supports him. Is he taking that support for granted? The support is because of the sweet things he has presented to them in the past, but how much time he can survive on his past. One day they will also start asking for his head and that day will come soon.

What lies ahead for this two time World Player of the Year? There are actually two things:

1) He can train harder, get fitter and win back all the trust of his fans, media and most importantly his team mates. He can prove back to the world that he is still the same entertainer.

2) He can move to another club (this looks likely) where he can try to recreate all his magic. But with his current form and attitude to training how many big clubs will be willing to take such a risk is yet to be seen. If Milan loses Kaka to Madrid then there is a high chance of he moving to San Siro.

But whatever decision he take, he should understand that his carefree attitude will not get him through this difficult phase. He needs to train harder and get back his fitness level. He needs to play for the team (rather than for himself, which ever team it maybe) - He should always remember "When the Team wins, He wins".

NB: "You cannot win the War without fighting it".

Dec 27, 2007

There were too many records that were at stake when Barcelona took on the challenge from Madrid in Clasico at Nou Camp. Madrid never won a match in Nou Camp for some years. Barcelona last home loss came thirty one matches before, Madrid never lost a match when that referee officiated. Some records stayed and some shattered – but it’s disappointing that all those shattered records belong to Barcelona. The match was lost before the first whistle. Rijkaard was at his worst with the preparation for the match. One thing this Barcelona side and management lack is respect for the opponents. If we see the away record of Madrid then it’s pretty obvious that they have the best away record this season. Indeed this match was best away side taking on the best home side. But Barcelona showed utter disrespect for their opponents and perished. The biggest culprit for this failure is Frank Rijkaard. He better admit it.

Am I being too harsh on Frank, I didn’t asked him to be sacked. I am simply telling him to own the mistakes he made. His game plan wrecked the team. For some time I have been critical about his choice of Puyol as a Right-Back. I was unfortunately proven right this day. When you are a goal down and you want to introduce more attacking options, what did Frank do – he brought Zambrotta instead of Puyol. Puyol is a great Centre Back (maybe the best in Europe) but Barcelona’s attacking style requires their full backs to give that wing runs and Puyol can’t do it (it’s not his mistake). I can understand the helplessness of a regular coach when his regular RB is injured, but cannot understand Rijkaard’s tactic when he has an accomplished RB in the form of Marquez with him. I will not criticize him for the choice of Ronaldinho, I though he was playing well in home matches. But to pick Deco with no match practice in place of a inform Gudjonsen was disaster. Eidur was linking well with Iniesta and Xavi in the early matches and he should have been rewarded him with a starting place.

Sometimes you can’t change destiny – that’s the only explanation I have for the way Abidal, Milito and Toure played. Maybe they were overwhelmed by the occasion, but remember these guys are the best players we have and once in a while they are supposed to have a bad day. Now comes the main man- the man on which the entire pre match talk revolved - Ronaldo de Assís Moreira. What a pathetic match he had. He looked totally out of place. I am a big Ronaldinho fan and it’s devastating to see him dive all over the place to get free kicks. Throughout the match he never noticed the wonderful runs made by Abidal to his left, there was a particular incident when Iniesta after making a great run was looking Ronnie make a forward run. But Ronnie never made one he stood behind Iniesta guarding the empty space ahead of him. Ronnie has lost his ball control; he hardly can go past one defender. In between he showed some brilliance but those were too few in between. He is holding the ball for more time; in the first half Eto’o looked completely stranded. There are rumors that he doesn’t train intensively, if that is the case then ship him out of the team. I remember Geoffrey Boycott saying that if you are having tough time batting, the best thing to do is get off the strike. Ronaldinho should understand that the best option he has now is to pass to another player as quickly as possible. The best Barca players on the pitch were Iniesta, Bojan and Giovanni. Its time for Rijkaard to take some tough decision. Every player in the team needs to earn their places.

How can I stop without praising the Madrid side, they were the deservedly winners. They came with a purpose (which Barcelona players lacked) and played as a unit. They all supported each other upfront and way back. They defended well, attacked in pairs and made Barcelona pay for their attitude. They have a comfortable seven point lead and I believe that’s only going to increase now. They may falter at some matches, but I don’t think this Barcelona side (with their current attitude) will be able to catch them (for that they have to start winning away from home.

NB: My suggestion to Rijkaard drop Ronaldinho from the regular squad, ask him to prove his worth in Copa Del Rey and earn his place back. Otherwise by the time Messi comes back we will be out of Champions League, Copa Del Rey and La Liga title race(or are we already out).

Dec 17, 2007

Barcelona Players Celebrating Gudjonsen's Goal against Valencia
Riding on the form of Messi and Eto'o, Barcelona eased away the challenge posed by Valencia at the Mestalla. With this victory Barcelona somehow ended their winless away streak. This is only the second away win of the season and with Madrid match round the corner, Rijkaard could not have asked for more. The only blemish in a surprisingly brilliant Barca was the injury to Messi, which will keep him out for close to five weeks.

Eto did waste a wonderful ball from Messi in the early stage of the match, but that could be count as the only blemish in his awesome performance. When Messi supplied the ball for the first goal, even the most optimistic supporter of Barca would not have imagined a chance of Goal. I only expected him to strike it with utmost power from that angle. Then he is Samuel Eto, he created the Goal from nowhere. What a marvelous piece of skill. The second Goal was a usual Barca move which saw Messi and Iniesta adding swiftness to the move and Eto finishing it in his classic style. If it was not for the legendary Canizares Barcelona would have destroyed Valencia by a huge margin.

Even the fiercest supporter of Barca will agree on one thing- the lack of quality displayed by this unbelievably talented Valencia side. Only for a ten minute duration at the start of second half, they were never in the match. Even if he take into consideration the number of injured players, Valencia indeed should have done better. Barcelona never is the same threat when traveling away, but Valencia players simply disappointed. And how can I forget to mention the unselfishness shown by a young Giovani Dos Santos. He could have gone at the goal by himself, nobody would have complained but he chose to be different.

I have to admit that I like the two tactics employed by Rijkaard. First is playing Gudjonsen in midfield. That gives that extra attacker and a sense of unpredictability about the team. The second is the way he is protecting Ronaldinho from away match. Anyone who has watched Ronnie this season will agree that Ronnie plays like a King in Camp Nou and like a pauper away from the same. Since he is not firing in away matches and with the amount of players available, its make sense to use him in home matches more than away matches. this will help him bring back the confidence and he should be back to his normal best soon than later.

Messi injury overshadow the El Classico this week, but we still can beat Madrid as we played majestically at home through out this season. I expect Ronnie to start this season and expect him to combine with Eto to produce a marvelous match.

Below is the three goals of the match

Nov 13, 2007

With the tame surrender at Coliseum Alfonso against Getafe, Barca has suddenly found themselves behind four point behind the Leaders. The results didn't came as a surprise to anyone but the tame surreneder did. Its been the pattern last season and looks like its continuing this season. Barcelona is a completely different side at home and away from home. At home they play like true champions and away from home they struggle like relegation threatened units.

It will be unfair to compare the success of top clubs in England in away match with the top clubs in Spain. Traditionally every home match in Spain is loaded heavily in favour of the Home team. Thats the reason why there is a high chance of the Top clubs losing points in away matches compared to their counter parts in England. But this is no excuse the way Barcelona is playing in away matches. Every away match the first 15 minutes they simply try to dominate, and once they find its difficult they simply give up. Last season everyone attributed this to the defensive fragility the team were having. But a team with Abidal, Puyol, Milito, Zamrotta and Toure shoiuld have countered that. But its not happening, the result remains the same.

In Spain, traditionally the titles are won away from home. Its your away form which will decide your future in the league. The way Villareal is playing this season, it might be difficult for Barcelona to qualify for next season's Champions league. Valencia and Sevilla will be very consistent. We might be looking forward to another Trophy less season. The media based on Barcelona has already started blaming Henry for the lack of Goals. This is very much unfair, he needs atleaset a season to settle and gel with the style of La Liga. And when did Barcelona heavily relied on one person to get all the Goals? There is no doubt about the fact that Ronnie looks like a spend force, especially in away matches. The best player of this season, Iniesta is not being played in a proper position. He plays in all kind of position. Its no surprise that, there is a high chance of a potential attack happening when the ball reaches Messi or Iniesta.

My personal opinin is that we have to change the free flowing 4-3-3 formation to a more compact 4-3-1-2 formation in away matches. With Messi playing behind the two strikers(maybe Henry and Gudjonsen). Its essential to have Messi playing in centre as a creative player atleast in away matches. Its essential to have Iniesta in the Midfield in every match. But all this changes will do nothing if the players attitude remains the same. They need to be more aggressive and have to give 150% every match. Its the lack of will to fight which loses us the match. The next match is a home match against Reacreativo, probably Barcelona will win it, will win it well. But its the away match against Espanyol, which should be used to judge the attitude of the current crop. I can seriously see Barca losing badly in Espanyol.

Nov 6, 2007

Sepp Blatter, the FIFA chief's latest proposal of imposing restriction on the number of foreign players have already send some shivers across the Footballing world. Almost all the football pundits have taken up arms against Mr.Blatter. Mr. Steve McMahon of Football Focus (ESPNSTAR) have ridiculed the entire idea as complete non-sense Steve McMahon On Sepp Blatter. But on a careful inspection of Blatter's proposal, it does not sound that stupid maybe a little misdirected.

One of the most important factors which prompted Blatter to make such a proposal is the difference in the standard of the top clubs and the others in the league. Let's take the EPL as the case study; there is a big difference in standard and quality among the big clubs and the not so big clubs. In Spain its more evident from the fact that the big Two always stands miles apart from the other clubs. Is it good for football? The general feeling among football fans is Yes. But then most of these fans are being loyal to their clubs, aren’t they? I am saying this because, not so long ago with Chelsea boosted by Abrahmovich Millions were walking away with all the Trophies available in England, I heard the same fans and pundits crying for some sort of regulations to be implemented (to bring parity to the same league). Now this proposal sounds like something you asked for, isn't it? Instead of making all the Hue and cry about the proposal, it will do a world of good if we sit and analyze it, especially analyze the good intention behind it.

One of the most important problems faced by the main footballing League is that there are only a maximum of 3 clubs which really have a realistic chance of winning the title. The rest of the clubs looks like they are their for making up the numbers. Its not coincidence that the most fascinating matches in the last two to three season in the whole league fixture is the fight for survival. One of the main reason for this is the fact that apart from the newly promoted one or two teams, there may not be much difference between the other clubs (of course leave the Top Clubs). Now imagine a scenario where by the time we reach the half way mark of the League fixtures, there may be 6-7 teams which have a realistic chance of winning the League. Sounds fascinating but hardly possible, especially with today's scenario. If you carefully study the Top clubs in England, Spain and Italy - It’s the amount of Money they possess which makes them highly competitive. They buy almost all the talents available worldwide and races past the other club before the season begins. There is another side of this scenario, smaller clubs will be encouraged to play well against these clubs just to make a point (example is the case of Real Madrid Galacticos). With his proposal Blatter tries to reduce this difference between the Top clubs and other clubs. But the problems with his proposal are that it puts the game itself in back foot. The Leagues in Asia and Africa are not as good as the European, in terms of money, standard and popularity. By restricting the access of these less privileged players from these lucrative leagues, he might be doing a bit of injustice to them. Secondly his proposal will obviously reduce the difference between the main clubs, How? Lets say the Top clubs stands at No 1 position in the race now and the others at lets say 100, instead of taking the other clubs to No 10 his proposal will bring the Top Clubs to lets say No 70. This is bad news for the game. Is this the solution?

If you observe carefully with the current footballing scenario, it looks like the Top clubs have a reluctance to embrace the proud Youth development programmes. In Italy and England the Football Academy of the Top Clubs are good as buried. Arsene Wenger may be a hero with what he has achieved with Arsenal, but England football and its fans may remember his as the man who killed the English Football Academy. The most used argument against having a very well run Academy in the top clubs is that it’s not producing the results and obviously it’s a huge investment. But don’t these clubs have a moral duty to give something to the society. If the top clubs were forced to have at least three home grown players in their starting line up, then the top flight clubs will embrace the concept of having a very good Football Academy. The advantage of these clubs having a good football academy is that more and more youngsters will get a chance to learn and explore their skills. The result there will be a wide pool of players available to select for the other smaller clubs. This will be inspiring for skilled youngsters from all over the world, as the Top clubs have the resource to find them and train them. Look at Messi, Krkic and Giovanni developed by Barca youth academy. But the Main clubs will not go back to those old ways of developing talents, unless they are forced to. This will also substantially increase the pool of players fighting for country berth. Apart from the two Latin American giants how many top national teams can afford to have two main players injured and come up with formidable performance.

The managers of the top clubs give the stupid reason that the academies will not give results on par with the investment. But Ajax and Barcelona has always proved this wrong, both these clubs are churning out more and more talents every year. Sepp Blatter will be doing the game a world of good if he can concentrate on improving the academies. It’s easily said than done. May be he has to force the league to share their profit on basis of an academy rating. May be FIFA themselves can reward the clubs with the best academies. The results will not come overnight. Slowly but surely it will come. So rather than restricting the number of foreign players, he can force the clubs to field a minimum of 3 to 4 home grown players every match. And one more thing even if you are planning to implement something like this, give the clubs some time to put their youth development program back on fast track. May be a five year timeline should e fine for the clubs.

Sep 28, 2007

Finally its raining goals at Camp Nou. Last three of their mathces is giving an impression of Barcelona getting back to what they are famous for - Playing attractive football. The last three matches were against really tough opposition - Lyon, Sevilla and Zaragoza. And they did this with the most important players injured (Ronaldinho, Eto and Puyol), that speaks volume. You know, the most warming part of these three victories is the fact that in the heart of it is the two most promising young talents Barca has produced - Iniesta and Messi. The way this year is progressing it looks like Messi will be marching ahead of the contempory players that are around him and develop a class which will be unique and reserved for Legends.

All These matches Messi has been fantastic. He is linking well with midfield and particularly well with Henry and Iniesta. In all the attacks of barca there will be a definitive involvement of Messi and Iniesta. There is always a Buzz around the stadium when the ball reaches anyone of them. Almost all the praise for a good match will go to the attacking players, but it will be a disgrace if I cannot mention about the defensive players. Milito and Marquez has been exceptional, so did Yaya, Abidal and Zambrotta. Zambrotta was our best player along with Iniesta and Messi last season. Abidal looks like he is gelling with the team very well. Now with Puyol available and Zambrotta Injured, Marquez should be the One doing the RB job.

Henry looks like seeking desperately for that first La Liga goal. i think he is trying a bit too hard. He is linking well with Messi and he for the time being should take the role of play Maker rather than Goal scorer. Then the elusive strike will be easy to achieve. Now it looks like nobody can mention anything about the club without mentioning about the rumors of Ronaldinho leaving the club. The rumors has already forced the club to issue a public statement. But i don't think its gonna happen. The club needs him, the players needs him and so do the fans. This should make him more thirst for success.

Below is the high light from the match between F C Barcelona and Real Zaragoza. Listen the commentary aftre the first three Goals


Sep 4, 2007

Found this amazing video compilation about Lionel Messi in net. Thought of sharing it. Its done by milankakabaros - visit him at

Its quite strange to write a Real Madrid appreciation thread in a Barcelona Blog, that too by an ardent Barca supporter. So what's the excuse I have got. May be because they are having three players from my favorite international team - Argentina. Ok let's cut the crap, the reason why I am writing this is because of their last week performance. Simply put that performance can be described as awesome. It overshadowed and rightly so, the performance of Barca at Camp Nou. It was a gritty performance by a team which seems to be lost forever in transition.

With the last of the famous Galacticos gone, the only step Madrid can take now is forward. They look more compact, aggressive and more and more determined in the start of this season. Got to admit the fact that of all the title contenders, they look the solid. Have to admire the brain of schuster, after a pretty long time Madrid bought players to fit into a system. This by itself is a sharp contrast to the Madrid Galacticos policy where star players made the system. Don't misunderstand me, last season Barcelona lost the title rather than Madrid winning it. But this season will be a far outcry compared to that. They look more solid and compact, so if we have to win the league we have to be the same and this time we have to snatch it from them. We cannot wait for them to slip( which looks rather unlikely), so we have to raise our game.

Match Compilation

If you go by the early signs that La Liga is throwing at, then we will be tempted to say that La Liga is going to be a little crowded this season. There is no certainity here. Real Madrid has set the tempo for the rest of season, now Barca has to raise it. And don't forget the ever dangerous Sevilla, they might be tempted to win everything as a tribute to Antonio Puerta. In his memoirs let me stop with a hope to see the best football this season.

Sep 3, 2007

The victory against Bilbao was secured in the first half. Barcelona went in to the match with al lot of criticism for their lackluster performance last week. Early on the first half, barca players hunger to keep the critics away was evident. They played like a team possessed. Athletic Bilbao should had considered themselves lucky at half time for trailing by only 2 goals. The second half in itself was a sharp contrast. Ronaldinho and Messi were setting the tone for the first half, every time Messi gets the ball there was a big anticipation for something big. And he didn't disappoint. Ronaldinho stellar performance should have subsidized all the Transfer rumors for now(its going to return in January, take a break). From the last some Liga games , its look like his free kick technique is coming back. But for me the star of the show was Eric Abidal - My God what a player. Its not surprising all of the Barcelona's attacks came either through him or Zambrotta. He should have solved our Left back misery, hope so. But whatever he is showing he is worth to watch.

In contrast to the first half, second half saw the last year Barcelona coming back(unfortunately). They were losing ball very easily, there was no conviction in the passing and it took the supporters booing to remind players they are there to win games. In contrast to first half - where the defence looked like compact and sealed, second half defence sometimes had no idea of what they were doing. The problem with Barca last season and still continues- is that after taking the early lead or control they tend to sit back. Because of which they end up conceding late equalizers. How many time did that happen last season. Rijkaard has to pay attention here.

It will be big injustice not to mention these two players in this article - Deco and Henry. Deco as usual is the marshal of Barca's Midfield. He was there all the time with all those tricks and turns. Hope he continues to find such form every night. When he moved to Barca, I thought he will not gel well with Barca system, I was proven wrong - He is looking good and he is due for his goal, mark my word he is going to get a lot.

May 18, 2007

Whatever be the result of the Fifa investigation to WestHam's Tevez transfer saga, he is going to be alive in the hearts of millions of WestHam fan's for many more years to come. Let's hope they don't get relegated as their story in the latter part was one of hope and struggle. Before 10 matches if somebody told me they are going to survive the League I would have gladly said "Buddy I am not a fool to buy that". But yet again as many times i was again wrong, but this time it had a happy feeling. Tevez and Messi are the future of Argentinian football. They both are real contrast to each other. One is an unbelievably skillful maybe a once in a generation player, but the other one is very talented, hardworking and unselfish player. When Messi was brought into 1st Team everything was on his side - the Media, Management, Fans and Players. If you remember the players all of them used to protect him like anything. The best example was the CL 1st leg in Chelsea. Whenever Messi was fouled there was kind of scuffle between players. In contrast when Tevez came to WestHam along with Mascherano, he was welcomed by a contrasting feeling - Distrust by Fans, media and players. The one which mattered the most was the players were not ready to accept him as one of them. And things predictably should have gone worse with Javier Mascherano's loan to Liverpool. I believed he would have been a lone figure in the dressing room. But when you have Carlos Tevez in your hand predictions have no value. Now at the end of the season the fans have declared him a "Hammer legend 4 Life"(It just took one season). How can he do that? The answer is you have to be "Carlos Tevez" for doing that. He never gave hope and with his performance he started inspiring the players to believe in him(I think one man who believed in him more than everyone was Anton Ferdinand). The key was he didn't try to impress media or his coach but his fellow colleagues. The WestHam's Great escape is not a one man story, it is a story of a bunch of people(Noble,Zamora, Benyayoun,.....) led and believing in their Hero and trying to do something impossible. At last they did it in style by beating the Champions at their den.
One attribute which makes Tevez differ from other strikers of his age is his "Unselfish character". Always we have seen that young strikers tend to be more selfish than everyone. Till last season Ronaldo was one of that category, this season he reinvented himself and look at the result. This makes Tevez doubly dangerous as he is a striker who is made of a fatal combination of Latin American flair, Hardwork and unselfishness. Let's hope he stays in WestHam for next season(i.e they are not relegated).
There is soccer players of different kind - One with flair, One with Grit, One who struggles and then there is the Tevez type.

Apr 19, 2007

With that absolutely amazing first Goal against Getafe, Messi himself has opened up the debate of whether he is the next Maradona. The enigma called El-Diego has bitten up all these years, with the result that every new kid on the block is being compared to him. This has to be attributed to our never ending eternal quest for finding the next Maradona. But seeing yesterday sterling performance of Messi, the belief that he might be the destined one become more stronger. Maradona's Goal of Century might have come in a very difficult world cup match, but Messi's replica of that is no less precious. Both of them has that unbelievable ability to glue the ball to their legs.
Messi performance of yesterday was one of his best till date. It came at a crucial time for the team, who was seriously handicaped with Ronie's injury. This season he has serously improved his finishing skills. Another plus from the game is the consistent and improving performance of Xavi. he was off colour for almost half of the season. But in the recent matches he is coming back to his old self. One worrying fact is the ability of Barca defence to concede Goal from very good positions. They are not doing the basic right and they have to correct it as early as possible.

This season has been consistently like this - some sterling performance at Home and some stupid performance (infact lots of) away from home. So we cannot sit back in the second leg.

To honour Messi I have changed the Blog Song to "Vamos, Vamos Argentina"

Apr 17, 2007

Mar 15, 2007

At first the points in common are evident in terms of the fact we’re talking about three players whose height was almost always cited as an obstacle to be overcome. Maradona stands 1.66m in his Albiceleste socks, Romário – nicknamed ‘O Baixinho’ (Shorty) – is three centimetres taller than ‘Dios’ (God) at 1.69m – exactly the same height as Lionel Messi.

Fair enough, so none of them were going to be basketball players, but what of it? Those who claim that their height-wise shortcomings forced a certain idiosyncratic flair out of them wouldn’t be wrong either.

To compete with their more corpulent peers all three forged their diminutive statures from weaknesses into weapons – although there are those who opine that the lower centre of gravity gave them a natural edge above lankier players.

There’s also another common thread that could be seen as a causative factor in their growth – or lack of it. Both Maradona and Romário hail from humble backgrounds in shanty towns / slums, the same breeding grounds that have seen some of the brassiest footballing talents in the world come from the muck of extreme poverty.

Romário was born near, yet so far, from the sun-kissed Rio de Janeiro shores he adores so much, the son of Edevair de Souza Faria and Manuela Ladislau Faria living in the Jacarezinho (Little Alligator) favela. Poverty-stricken, the future star’s family had problems feeding the youngster and he grew at a slow rate.

Diego Armando Maradona was born in run-down Villa Fiorito, a dirt poor district on the southern fringes of Buenos Aires to a poor family that had moved from Corrientes Province. The oldest of three brothers – who also went into football, albeit with far less success – also found his development stunted by a lack of food.

At the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with a hormone deficiency that stunted his growth – and would have stunted it even further had FC Barcelona not offered to pay for an expensive treatment that his poor family couldn’t afford.

Apart from the physical aspects, all three have a point in common in a ball control that leaves the sphere apparently glued onto their boots. This has wound three generations of defenders and holding midfielders up to breaking points as it combines with their size very well.

All three are capable of holding the ball up effectively with their back to a rival – or several – until support arrives, or to burn time in the last minutes of a game that’s got a favourable result. The low centre of gravity means they’re harder to nudge over than a taller player, sticking over the ball with limpet-like firmness near a sideline until they pass the ball or get fouled.

The shorter legs are also a boon to manoeuvring in small spaces. Like a Mini Cooper compared to a Ford Mustang, the turning circle is so much smaller that gaps that appear impossible for the larger are easy to fit into for the smaller. Try watching ‘The Italian Job’ (either version) and ‘Bullit’ to get an idea if the metaphor fails to convince.

All three attracted defenders like a flame attracts moths, sometimes drawing up to three or four exasperated rivals out of their team’s tactical shape. This would, at its best, be followed by a sudden ‘handbrake turn’ as the diminutive marvels shot out of the ‘scrum’.

The Romário comparison is lessened given the fact that out of the illustrious trio he’s the sole right-footer, although there is a doppelganger similarity to some Messi moves in his killer instinct in the box and opportunism.

Examples of moves that enchant spectators litter the careers of the retired ‘Dios’, the about-to-retire ‘Baixinho’ and the nowhere-near-retiring ‘Pulga’ (Messi being nicknamed the ‘Flea’ for self-evident reasons) and linger in the memory with barely-restrained fondness, an aching longing and great memories that Messi is now resurrecting for Culés all over the world.

They also all had seminal performances against the Merengues that are still recalled by those fortunate to have seen them first hand – and even those who saw them for the first time years afterwards.

Although Maradona’s time at Barcelona was short-lived, his performance at the Bernabéu – dribbling several defenders down the flank before scoring in 1983 – brought a standing ovation only repeated years later for Ronaldinho.

Romário’s hat-trick against Real Madrid during the ‘manita’ (five-goal drubbing) inflicted by Cruyff’s Barça on Benito Floro’s Merengues is also a moment that has become immortalised in Blaugrana memories, particularly the ‘cola de vaca’ (cow’s tail) move that saw him sweep the ball around Alkorta and score.

Now it’s Messi’s turn to be forged into a consecrated idol after being the heart and soul of Barcelona against their white nemesis. His hat-trick may not have been the jewel in the crown of a win, but the fact that he equalised no less than three times is almost as good.

His performance in the Barça-Real Madrid Clásico ended with the final strike stroked past Casillas in the 90th minute, denying Capello’s Madrid three points that would have re-ignited their spluttering attempt to revive a Liga title challenge and sink Rijkaard’s side at the same time.

Argentinean sports daily ‘Olé’ made no bones about their view of how Messi performed and who it reminded Argentine observers of: “Messi is a clone of Maradona…’What planet is he from?’”, the last part echoing football pundit Víctor Hugo Morales who used the same phrase to describe Diego Armando Maradona during Mexico 1986 as a “barrilete cósmico” (cosmic kite) after his showing against England.

With Maradona himself having broadcast his own opinion far and wide, there’s little doubt that the mythical number 10 sees Messi as his heir. Messi himself knows this and responds with wisdom.

“Diego is the greatest…as always”, Messi underlined. “The only thing that I can do is to continue working, continue improving…but not so that I can make the comparison clearer. I’m here to carry on learning and evolving and we’ll see what I can do.”

In Spanish there’s a saying that comparisons are always hateable. Being compared to Messi and Romário is clearly a compliment for any player, but perhaps we are in danger of looking to the past to find explanations for present glory….and to anticipate future paths when they still remain to be walked.

It’s a natural vice, but nevertheless a vice, which brings us to the last point of comparison –contrast. Maradona’s slide into cocaine addiction and his turbulent private life, Romário’s avoidance of training and sex obsession: plus the fact that they both spent a short time at Barcelona.

Messi has so far steered clear of any mention of a troubled personality and his interview reveal a relaxed, humble young man rather than a player with something to prove or a chip on their shoulder resulting in the growth of a super-ego.

His only ‘scandal’ has been to be present – not involved – at a Rosario bar argument that didn’t even end in a brawl. It’s hardly the sort of behaviour that stands comparison with either Romário or Maradona; even at their most angelic.

In time terms Maradona and Romário – Ronaldo too – spent stunted stints at Camp Nou, although they perhaps burned themselves into memories precisely because they did so much to remember in such a short space of time.

‘Dios’ may have found his time with the Catalans hampered by hepatitis and an ankle-shattering tackle by ‘Butcher of Bilbao’ Andoni Goikoetxea, but shone so brightly we need to wear sunglasses over two decades later: 38 goals in 58 games still a statistic that’s hard to match.

‘O Baixinho’, perhaps one of the few to be able to compete with (or better) such scoring proficiency, like Ronaldo after him, came from PSV and exploded with 34 goals in 46 games, arriving and leaving almost exactly two decades after Maradona.

Messi arrived, unlike the others, as a pearl to be cultured in Catalunya rather than a star who’d already proved their worth in gold – and arrived at Camp Nou on the backs of big transfers: a (then) record-breaking $10 million for the Argentine, ‘only’ $4 million for the Brazilian as PSV saw him as equally talented as truancy-prone.

Leo has been nurtured at la Masía (The Mansion), Barcelona’s residential youth academy, rather than being a formed import that just needed slotting into the first team. He’s a different case to both Maradona and Romário for a number of reasons, and similar in other aspects, but still a young man who’s continuing to develop and grow both on and off the pitch.

We will continue to compare – it’s a human failing, this sentimentality, but who on earth would want to rob football of its sentiments? We love our teams with a passion that is almost undying and, just as passion is intimately related to love, we take joy from the comparisons of current stars to the ones of yesteryear.

Messi may have aspects of Maradona and Romário in aspects of his game, but he’s far from being a simple blend of either…or even a hybrid with other idols thrown into the blender to produce ‘formula Messi’.

Our comparisons of past with present players aren’t hateful – far from it – but they won’t bring us closer to the truth which is that Lionel Messi has just started. Perhaps the best move is to just enjoy a player who will doubtless lead us to compare future players with a “You know, that player really reminds me of Lionel Messi…”

Found this wonderful Article on the Net: Click Here For Original Article

Mar 11, 2007

An outstanding Lionel Messi saved the El-Classico for the catalans and most importantly made sure that the difference between Sevilla and the defending champions will be only 3 points. Don't be surprised if yesterday's El-Classico will be remembered as Lionel Messi's ElClassico. At last Messi started giving justification to El Diego's comments of making his successor. He has been showing flashes of his brilliance till yesterday, but yesterday he just released the first part of a hopefully long film called "Messi Unleashed". Yesterday's match was a battle between the collective determinations of the mardid players and individual brilliance of Barcelona players. As usual Barcelona defence played havoc and was responsible for their entire problems. But Barca players were not helped properly by a team management which was as confused as the players. First of all I never understood the formation played by Barca yesterday, but I am lucky that I am not the only one. It looked like the players also never had any idea and moreover they were not at all confident with the defence. Otherwise its not easy to explain the number of reckless challenges thrown by players.

The first Goal came from a defensive lapse from the most unlikely player, Thuram. But this has been the story of Barcelona this season. The faults are coming from the most unlikely players of all. Last season Edmillson looked like one of the best defensive midfielder, this season it gives me nightmares thinking about he playing in the side. So is the case with Marquez. Hopefully there are some goodnews coming and most probably we will sign Abidal and Frings this summer. These two guys surely should solve our aerial defence problem. But then when Thuram and Zam came everyone said this, you cannot guess anything in Barcelona.
The Goals scored by Barca were brilliant. Beautiful teamwork and individual skills. Iniesta looked like he was playing Polo when he was put in the Back. But the moment he came forward he was back to his best. Gudjonsen looks like he will give us a more physical option infront of the goal. The defence........mmmmmmmmmm... Did we have one? I don't know... deco didn't look at his best. Ronnie showed flashes of brilliance. But the real stars of night were Messi, Iker Cassilas and Victor Valdes. They were just simply awsome.

Mar 4, 2007

After all those promises shown in the last two match Barcelona went back to square one with an pathetic performance against Sevilla. Sevilla as a team had the Barca side measure to perfection. Barcelona went with the 3-4-3 formation following the grand debut of this strategy against Zaragoza. Did it backfired? Don't think the strategy backfired. The selection process made that strategy less effective. Where is Thuram? That was the first question that came to mind. A 3 men defence need 3 extra ordinary defenders in the Back. Puyol, Zambrotta and Thuram should have been the best choice. Marquez was a joke, he was responsible for 1st Goal(Sevilla's) and should have contributed for more. This match should have been looked upon as a preparation for the bigger "Do or Die " Match against Liverpool. Instead it was made into a joke.

I don't understand the logic behind the selection of Marquez in these crucial games. If you look at all the Goals we have conceded this season this guy surely have a hand on aboout 65% of them. Why you want to select a person who is that unreliable? This match also put the question of the effectiveness of a 3-4-3 formation against Liverpool. My personal opinion is that its better to go with a 3-4-3 formation in Liverpool with Deco, Xavi and Iniesta in the middle. It gives more attacking option, maybe it will put more pressure on Defence. Then we have no choice left, we can only hope to win the match by 3-2 or a 4-3 margin. The players have to show more sense of urgency, they cannot rest after getting the initial goal. This is the problem with this side this entire season.

Mar 2, 2007

Mar 1, 2007

At Last.....finally at Last Barcelona were able to overcome the Zaragoza hurdle in Copa Del Rey. The team looks like slowly getting out of the slump and regrouping. The tactical switch to 3-4-3 formation was the key for Barcelona's victory yesterday. The tactical switch provided Barca with an option of using the three midfield masterminds in the starting eleven- Xavi, Deco, Iniesta.
The option of using Messi as a lone striker does have its merits and demerits. Merits are he will create many opportunity but his problem is his finishing. One good thing about barca yesterday was they looked like the Barcelona we knew last season. There was number of opportunities created yesterday and that was the major factor which turned the match in our favor. But still the worrying factor is the way Barca takes foot off pedal after getting two goal lead and had to pay dearly for that too. Barcelona always looks more organized in attack than defence. This season Barcelona tend to carry form to coming matches. We always loses in pair and wins in pair. Example : Chelsea, Madrid and Valencia, Liverpool. This makes it very much essential to win against Sevilla, cause that could set the Tempo for coming season as far as CL and League is concerned.

The major question now is whether Rijkaard will employ the same 3-4-3 combination for upcoming matches. With Peter Crouch in the team 3-4-3 against Liverpool will be dangerous ploy - it will give more option in attack but defense? Sevilla match should be a good test for Eto'o also to prove that he is fully fit to travel to Anfield. When Eto'o comes back who will be employed in the right is the major question now - Messi or Guily? Messi has the skill whereas Guily has the pace. To win at Anfield all these questions has to have the right answer.

Whatever be the result of the next two matches, the team needs to get inspired and play well so that all their fans can hold their heads high. The players has to understand well that the Motto "More Than A Club" is not an advertisement campaign but a commitment to the society. As Oleguer Presas said
"When Barcelona win the league, we become the Army of joy finally able to face up to [Franco's troops]. We imagine ourselves halting that pack of tanks, responding to their bullets with song, laughing in the face of the fascist ire."
The Franco's troops are long gone but not the forces that oppress the helpless people of the world. Never in the history of any sports has one club become the symbol of the struggle for the oppressed.

Found this article about Oleguer Presas in Guardian :
Barcelona's right-back philosopher out to make world a better place

Feb 22, 2007

Last night 2-1 defeat to Liverpool drops curtain on Barcelona's Champions League dream of this year. The most embarrassing and worrying factor for Frank Rijkaard about the defeat is the ease with which it came searching for Liverpool. Liverpool did not have to play anywhere near their ability to win this game, as Barca played perfect host by delivering the match in a palette to them. This does not come as a surprise as the Catalans recent performance should have warn this coming. Like against Valencia they have their Defence(yesterday Valdes also) to take the full responsibility of the defeat. But Does putting the blame entirely on the defence solves the mystery? No, I absolutely disagree. The blatant Truth is that its their offence's failures which is putting them in precarious position like this.

Last night Liverpool was anything but spectacular. They might have sticked to their task well, but then Barcelona's players attitude helped them well. Every one of the English commentator were praising their defence for the win, but I cannot agree completely over here. Whenever Barcelona upped the tempo Liverpool's defence was found wanting. If it was not for Sissoko or Carragher it would have been a different story. After the initial exchange of play when Barcelona upped the tempo, it looked like Liverpool is going to have lots of trouble. That phase of the match lasted till Deco's first Goal, in which we saw Barcelona's attacking force raiding the Liverpool territory ball after another. But that lasted only till that Goal came and after that Barcelona decided to sit back and enjoy. I don't find the rationale for such a decision, when you know that Anfield is not such an easy Ground. The tactic should have been to score at least 3 Goals and make the Tie safe.

But if we look deeper we can find that this laid back attitude is causing team more matches this season than players injury or players out of form. There was no explanation for team losing yesterday than this attitude, as Liverpool only had an average Game. Nobody ever saw Gerrard or Alonso on the field. But still they managed to Get two away Goals tell the way Barcelona played. When everyone was expecting the team to come and fire in all cylinders after the break, they were content with holding possession. They very well deserve to lose this match. But they could have tried a little harder so that the fans could walk home with some satisfaction.

It didn't came as a surprise that whenever Barca was able to make some impression in the Liverpool D it came from the right of the field through Messi. He might have seemed a little disillusioned in the second half, but he was the only Barca player along with Puyol who played at least well in the match. Last season Barca's strength were the one touch passing football and the pace they showed. It was the pace that combined along with the one touch football and skill which made them so dangerous. This season if we look carefully they are showing some glimpses of one touch football but they miss the pace completely. It cannot be attributed to the absence of Eto, as when Eto was there the same problem existed. Rijkaard has to address this as early as possible or change the 4-3-3 system to some conventional system. The 4-3-3 system needs the two above mentioned quality to be effective and Barca seems to miss at least one of them this season.

It will be honest to say that Barca's chances in the La Liga also will be diminished in the coming weeks. We have to expect Sevilla moving well ahead of them and may be Valencia will slowly overtake Barca for second spot. This could be a good time to see how good is the young talents we are having in our youth systems - Bojan Krkic, Dos santos, Marc Crosas, Olma etc. Rijkaard should start preparing for the next season from now onwards(forget about this season) and see wherever Barca need reinforcements. Certainly Zaragoza will kick them out of Copa del Rey coming 28th and Liverpool will complete formality by humiliating them with mostly a 2-0 defeat in Anfield.

Still as a Barcelona fan I will stay up late night to watch 2nd leg at Anfield hoping Barca beat them at least with a two goal margin. I will also hope we will win at Zaragoza by two goals(We last time lost their 4-1). You might think I am crazy, then without Hope this world will be a difficult place to live in.

Find more interesting articles at

Feb 17, 2007

Bojan Krkic - young star of Barca B

FC Barcelona home grown talent Bojan Krkic, 16 years old from Linyola, has got a great future ahead of him. Last weekend he scored 2 goals in the 3-0 victory over U.E. Lleida and is already the Pichichi of Barca B. He scored 7 goals or a total of 20. Since he is playing as a regular in Quique Costas team the reserve team has changed. Krkic is developing fast and in huige steps. Last year he was promoted with 15 years to the Juvenile (U19) and this year, with 16 years, he should gain some experience in senior football. Now, he is a lready a regular and the top goalscorer of the team.

Football experts are convinced that Bojan will make his debut for the first team next sesaon.

Barca B coach Quique Coasts was in a serious crisis just weeks ago. Barca B was bottom of the table of the Segunda B (Spain´s third Division). But the boy from Linyola, with its self-confidence, skills and overall with his goals got the team back to life.

His stats are impressive. Bojan Krkic scored 7 goals in only 870 minutes playing time. 5 of them in the last 4 matches. He played 11 matches, 9 of them in the starting line-up.
When the youngster joined Barca B this season, the team had only won 1 match so far, since Bojan played they added another 5 victories.

Bojan is happy with his development and revealed:
I am scoring goals and this helps the team to win. Things go very well for me on a personal level and Barça B is improving a lot. I already feel privileged by playing for Barca B with only 16 years. I am very young and I have still a long way to go. This is why I am only thinking of Barca B at the moment.

Bojan Krkic has also been called up for Spain´s U18 to play the Meridian Cup.

Source : Click here

Barca´s Deco: "FC Barcelona the ideal Club for Cristiano ronaldo!"

FC Barcelona´s Portuguese midfield star Deco is convinced that FC Barcelona is the ideal club and Barcelona the best place for international team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo to play in the future.

Deco believes that 22-year-old Ronaldo should choose Barca over rival´s real Madrid if he should ever decide to leave Manschester United.

Deco explained on Radio Marca:

I would love it, if he came to play at Barca. I believe it is the ideal club for him. There are big clubs interested in Cristiano Ronaldo, but I personally believe that Barca would be better than Madrid, because of the team's form, the city is an ideal place to live, etc.

FC Barcelona's "El Magico" Ronaldinho told English tabloid "SUN" that he and his teammates have to be at their best to beat liverpool to progress to the quarter finals. Despite being branded as favourites ronaldinho insists that the UEFA Champions League clash is anything other than easy.

European champions of 2006 Barca host Liverpool, who won the title one year before, on wednesday night. An exciting tie over two legs is on the agenda and Ronaldinho believes that liverpool has a team able to win the European trophy again. Ronnie explained to the "SUN":

Liverpool won the European Cup two years ago, so we know it could go either way. I think we'll have to be at our very best to make it through to the last eight. Liverpool's incredible win in 2005 was amazing and an achievement we must be aware of. We have to learn from what happened to Milan. It would be a mistake not to consider Liverpool as one of the favourites to win this season's Champions League. Not only have they already won it, they have a team capable of doing it again. But we are a force in this competition and have an obligation to show them our quality too.
We know all about Liverpool. Steven Gerrard is a brilliant midfield player with a lot of force and Xabi Alonso complements him perfectly. They have a good passing range and we have to be very careful they don't release their strikers too much. The likes of Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch are dangerous. The core of Liverpool's side is of a very high standard. They can hurt us on the break, so we must not neglect that threat. The hour of truth has arrived and we fully expect to reach the heights we are capable of reaching. Winning the first leg is important to us. We must make home advantage count because we are going to suffer at Anfield, if we are not in front. I think, we are good enough to win both legs. We have confidence in ourselves and believe we can repeat last season and end the year as Champions League winners again.

If the performance against Racing is anything to go by, then Barcelona might be slowly awaking. They seems to do well in the midfield and defense, but still the forward lineups inability to create chances are becoming a big problem. Last season they had a problem of converting goals from numerous chances they usually creates. But this season, it seems its going other way. They are converting most of their chances, but the chances are very less from a very highly Talented Barcelona side.
The last match against Racing was a decent performance, basic analysis of the game is as follows:

1) Ronaldinho - Got two great goals, first one was pure class and the second one due to poor marking. He didn't tried to do spectacular things and concentrated on his job basically.
2) Saviola - Had a bad day, cannot blame him for that. He is an out and out CF and midfield has to supply balls to him(Which was very less). Most of the time he has to drop back to touch the ball says plenty of Barca's problem this season. It seems he is trying too hard to retain his place in the wake of Eto's coming back from injury. Should be given a start against Valencia.
3) Iniesta - Had a bad day. He is being played out of position. He fits brilliantly in the midfield, where his creativity will gel beautifully with Deco's. Right Forward position is either Guily's or Messi's.
4) Deco - Great as usual.
5) Xavi - Good player. Sometimes seems to getting lost.
6) Marquez - Until we find a good DM its better to have him as DM.
7) Defensive line was really great. There were some problems which should be sorted out.
8) Messi - Looked really good, will be back in may be days.
9) Guily - He was excellent with his pace.

Now concentrating on the Games on hand in the recent future, it is important to have a regular line up and stop shuffling at least until the match against zaragoza is over. So lets identify the line up for these matches.








In the matches against Valencia and Liverpool its very necessary to have a tall DM to complement the defense, so I will prefer marques always. But against Zaragosa I will have Xavi there which will give more attacking option. The match against Valencia is the most crucial of all as it will set the tone for all the other matches. Barcelona has to win this one at any cost. This will give the necessary confidence to proceed further in Champions League and Copa del Rey and increasing the lead in La Liga.
With so much tension looming over the last weeks incidents involving Eto, it is very necessary for the team to have a confident boosting win against Valencia. If that doesn't happen we might see the team losing out of CL and Spanish Cup pretty soon. Its very much essential to the team to gel together. With Messi and Eto back they should be able to perform well and torment their opponents. Messi is the key as his pace will dictate terms. Deco and Ronnie's combination should be complemented by Xavi or Iniesta properly. Hoping for brighter days ahead.

- An Ardent Fan Of F C Barcelona.

Feb 9, 2007

In an interview (spanish) to El Mundo Deportivo, FC Barcelona’s coach Frank Rijkaard talks about Leo Messi’s recovery and the possibility of the Argentinian playing for the first time after his injury in next Sunday’s game against Racing Santander.
Everybody knows what Leo is capable of when he’s on the ball. Watching him, one may think he’s already in top form, but if you pay attention you notice that he needs two minutes to recover after every run he makes; and that’s just in training! So I want to give a warning: Leo is ready to participate and to make the difference with his playing, but we will not take any risks with him. I’m happy about Eto’o because he is back in the team and progressively picking up pace, but from a physical point of view I think right now Leo is a bit more match-ready than him. Eto’o’s injury is different from Leo’s; you have to be more careful with a knee injury because that is a key part of an athlete’s body

If they keep on working the same way and they do not suffer any relapses, they both will probably play next Sunday; I don’t know if the entire game or just some minutes

Feb 8, 2007

England and France suffered morale-sapping setbacks in their Euro 2008 build-ups when they slumped to home defeats on Wednesday.

A sublime goal from Barcelona's Andres Iniesta gave Spain a 1-0 win over Steve McClaren's England in Manchester while Iniesta's club teammate Javier Saviola was on target as Argentina beat France 1-0 in Paris.

But there were no such problems for two other Euro 2008 favourites as Germany cruised past Switzerland 3-1 while the Netherlands trounced Russia 4-1.

Substitute Iniesta settled the game at Old Trafford, England's last home game before they return to a new-look Wembley.

His 20-yard strike left debutant goalkeeper Ben Foster with no chance just after the hour mark.

"It was always going to be difficult with the players we had missing," said McClaren who was without star striker Wayne Rooney.

"When you have to make changes it is difficult to get cohesion and we struggled with that."

At the Stade de France, Saviola's delicate touch was decisive in the 15th minute to defeat the World Cup runners-up.

France pushed for an equaliser but the Argentina defence was well marshalled by captain Roberto Ayala, winning his 107th cap - beating the Argentinian record held by Diego Simeone.

France coach Raymond Domenech said the result had let him frustrated.

"We had everything: there was desire, great movement, great build-up but our last touch was missing," he said.

Argentina coach Alfio Basile was overjoyed with the result.

"It's a great satisfaction to win against France, one of the best teams in the world at the moment," said Basile.

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