sorry… couldn’t resist the alliteration there🙂
belarus – home of fc bate borisov, and from pique’s twisted perspective, “land of the mythical hleb”. right.
20 players landed in the capital city of minsk, including barca b boys cuenca and dos santos. i was a bit on the edge about this match, given our less than impressive record against rubin kazan in recent years, and news of bate’s coach asking kazan’s coach for tactical advice. but it was nice to see that it was all business as they trained at the dinamo stadium, the venue for bate borisov’s european matches.
while there, they received word of the passing of 1960s barça legend jesus “chus” pereda. a deep loss for the club and for the football community. white armbands for the game in his honor, and this is from the captain’s facebook –
after pep and mascherano’s pressers, i felt a tiny bit optimistic about the fixture… confident enough to wager for 1-2 in our favor. i know. sorry pep, sometimes i’m a cule of little faith. i didn’t expect such a whopping result! another manita, and this is the champions league we’re talking about. granted it’s bate borisov and it’s only their second time to reach the group stage, but still. kazan memories burn deep, you know. so pep came out with almost my ideal starting 11 – captain caveman, VV, abidal, alves, monster masch, keita, thiago, pedro, villa, messi and xavi with enough hair gel to cover for everyone else. VV in zubi’s green and the rest in the slick black kit that is screaming from the top of my shopping list.
i have to say i’m having some mixed emotions about this win. i wish we could have reserved this kind of thrashing for ac milan or some other bigshot side. i think deep inside each cule is a soft spot for the underdog. for many years, our team was that underdog, but for tonight, it was the guys in yellow. i have nothing but respect for those guys — they played with dignity and without pretentions or malice. call me crazy, but i would have felt better with a smaller margin of victory. and that home crowd! they didn’t stop cheering even when they were four down. amazing, and very touching. one of the most beautiful things about the match.
here’s a nice video of the highlights from a well-played 90 minutes —
i felt so sorry about their own goal. never a good thing. but when you play with all of your boys defending in the box, that stuff is bound to happen. it just gets too crowded for everyone to move the way they want to.
credit where credit is due, though — they did close down quite a number of our attacks.
my favorite was pedro’s goal and what happened after. villa made a beautiful pass, pedro lobbed it towards the net, ball went in… and there was no euphoric reaction, just calm congratulations. yeah, beautiful goal, just another day’s work, that thing of beauty is how we roll :) by the way, guaje, you need some hair product pronto. i know you and cesc are holding each other’s hands through this follicular identity crisis, but you’re pulling each other down. both of you to your barbers (or salons) stat!
someone in my timeline tweeted at halftime that xavi made more passes than the entire bate borisov team. sick.
i was very happy for villa after he scored the manita goal, especially after his humble words from last time, about his role in barça not being solely about scoring. i must say that when he signed last year, i thought we might witness a clashing of egos a la zlatan, but he’s been such a down-to-earth fellow, never greedy with the ball.
all our defenders (masch with an honorary title included) did great during the match, with dani and abi high up front in attack, and masch and puyi stopping everything in their path. dear masch — each match i find myself in awe more and more. you were born to play defensive-center-mid-half-field-back or whatever it is you want to call that hybrid position of yours. just hands down impressive.
also, great job on the subs for pep, although it would’ve been nice to see one of the b boys there. i was especially glad to see adriano get more playing time, and i hope to see a lot more of him this season.
and lastly, capita is most definitely back:
ibi is scheduled for surgery on monday, while iniesta tweeted about racing down the mountains with alexis. apparently, puyi has radioactively infused them with superhuman healing powers, and they will be back on the pitch sooner than expected. speedy recovery, boys!
ugh. and right after i post this, i find out that puyi has a ribcage contusion. major ouch. anims, capita!
till next time! my next post will be about the match against gijon🙂