August 19, 2012
August 15, 2011
There are a myriad ways to think of games like this. I predicted a 3-1 loss for Barça and I’m still, more than 12 hours after the final whistle, somewhat shocked that I wasn’t right. And perhaps, given the first half especially, I should have been, though shipping more than two goals might have been a tad harsh on the blaugrana defence, makeshift as it was for the majority of the game. It was harsh, of course, that Barcelona managed just two shots on goal yet found the back of the net with both.
The first 20 minutes or so were completely dominated by Madrid. Lionel Messi was invisible to the point where a friend asked whether he really had been included in the lineup; Thiago was having a nightmare, and Seydou Keita couldn’t distribute to anyone who wasn’t wearing a white shirt. Özil put a deft finishing touch on a nifty run by Benzema and the scoreline seemed deserved. When the half finished and Barça were winning 1-2, it was undeserved.
August 13, 2011
There was a time when playing Madrid was an amazing thing. It happened twice a year and they were monumental games. A year in which there were a lot of meetings included a matchup in the Copa del Rey. Last year that was broken wide open with something like 24 meetings between Barça and Real Madrid (okay, so “just” 5 in reality) and now we’re starting out with a minimum of 4 thanks to the two-legged Supercopa de España that kicks off the year.
It was inevitable once both teams qualified for the Copa del Rey final (had Barça won that tournament as well, they would have played the runner-up as they did they took on Sevilla in August 2009), but now that it’s upon us, it is striking that there is considerably less morbo floating around. That’s probably because everyone is still digesting the transfers and reveling in the offseason, but come Sunday night in Madrid, it should return with full force.
August 22, 2010
When Abdoulay Konko stabbed the ball into the wrong net for Barcelona's first goal, it felt unlucky for Sevilla. When Lionel Messi fired home his third and Barcelona's fourth off a layoff by Andres Iniesta, it felt justified. It was not, as some have suggested, a one-man show by the Argentine, but rather a comprehensive destruction by the entire team.
As the trophy was presented at the end, I tried to think back to all the dangerous opportunities for Sevilla, but could come up with no true tests of Víctor Váldez. The best player for Sevilla in the first leg, Diego Perotti, came on in the 61st minute for the anonymous Alejandro Alfaro, and subsequently disappeared from play just like his predecessor. The same is true for Luis Fabiano replacing Diego Capel and Luca Cigarini replacing Romaric. Sevilla's trip to Portugal to face FC Braga in midweek in Champions League qualifiers and the looming return leg of that tie certainly preoccupied Sevilla and their manager, Antonio Álvarez, but the team still lacked both defensive discipline and commitment to harrying Barcelona's possession-based game.
August 16, 2010
In the end, Saturday night was forgettable for the majority of Barcelona fans. As Freddie Kanoute celebrated his second goal and Sevilla's third, the message boards and twitter accounts of the blaugrana fans were humming with anger and angst. Some proposed Zlatan be sent immediately to Milan (as the rumor-mongers in the Spanish press currently have it), others that Bojan be relegated to the darkest depths of la tercera, or that Rubén Miño, making his first competitive start for the first team, should be put in stocks on the Plaça de Catalunya. Metaphorically, of course.
Guardiola took his chances with his lineup, knowing he couldn't risk his Spanish international players before they'd had two full days of training with the club. So he left them all in Barcelona and relied on the youth system against a tough, physical Sevilla side (plus Jesus Navas, who is neither tough nor physical) that was playing the vast majority of their regular starters. Luis Fabiano versus Sergi Gómez sounded like a disaster; Oriol Romeu and Jonathan dos Santos would be ground into find dust by Renato and company. Yet for 60 minutes and certainly the first 45, the team was superior to Sevilla.
August 13, 2010
As the current La Liga champions, Barça face Copa del Rey champions FC Sevilla in the Supercopa español (Spanish Super Cup), a two-legged affair starting tomorrow, August 14 in Sevilla and ending next Saturday, August 21, in Barcelona. It is the return to competition for both teams--though technically Sevilla competed in the Ramón de Carranza Trophy competition, playing RCD Espanyol and CF Cádiz--but the first leg is not necessarily going to be the showdown one would otherwise expect between these two clubs.
Barcelona have yet to have more than one day of training with the full squad thanks to the late return to camp of the Spanish internationals after their friendly in Mexico City on Wednesday. Despite fairly few minutes on the Azteca pitch (243 total between 6 players), I do not expect any of them to start. Manager Pep Guardiola has preached faith in the cantera and I expect that faith to take the form of starting spot for several up-and-comers, including midfielders Jonathan dos Santos and Thiago Alcántara.