Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Elementary Particles: Barcelona v Real Zaragoza

The papers, in and beyond the borders of Spain, have been speculating about a possible move away from Barca to Chelsea for Ronaldinho. And despite vociferous denials from the Camp Nou via president Joan Laporta and coach Frank Rijkaard, the press continues to beat the drums that there's turmoil within the club, et cetera. Nothing new, of course. And frankly, if Chelsea want to spend 80 million euros on Ronaldinho, they can have him since no player is worth that much money. And if the big, fleet-footed Brazilian would rather play for the Blues than with the Blaugrana, then my heart is broken and good riddance.

But I don't think he's going anywhere, certainly not to Chelsea, and as Laporta and Rijkaard mentioned in their press conferences over the last few days--"Barca is where it is today thanks to him." And so it is.

Still, critics insist that Barca is unable to play without Ronnie and that the team is unstable without him. I find such comments amusing since it's obvious that they haven't been watching the squad of late. I know it's still early and that some players have taken awhile to find their forms, but the last three matches have been showcases for fabulous, progressive football at its finest, and I think proof that the team is strong with or without their celestial #10.

GolTV co-announcer Phil Schoen summed it up best today as Barca dismantled an increasingly frustrated and impotent Real Zaragoza side: "Whenever you get tired of the modern, cynical game, you might want to leave this one on tape." With Ronaldinho still out because of an injury (and I ain't talking an injury on the dance floor while he was juggling Rum bottles or whatever it was he was supposed to have done... if you listen to the Spanish press) the team played better than I've seem them all season and maybe even longer. They look strong. They look fabulous. And they'll look even better than ever once Henry actually can break through his malaise (though he played fine all game despite his woeful finishing... but he's getting there) and fine-tune his communication with Messi and Iniesta. I'm thinking next match, Henry will definitely step up and remind us all of yesteryear.

No surprise, Messi was peaking yet again, and like the match on Saturday against Sevilla, he almost earned another hat-trick. But he did garner another two goals. Iniesta also notched another beauty and he continues to be my second favorite player on the squad (after captain Puyol, who will hopefully be back from the injury list soon). I hope to write about Iniesta once my project is finished within the next few weeks. He's been a consistent joy to watch and his performances just grow stronger and stronger in that left-side attacking midfield position vacated by Mr. #10. A joy to behold and his vision and pace never fail to impress me. The kids dynamite--Gio Dos Santos and Bojan Krkic--made their moves known, too, and I'm excited to see what they'll continue to bring to the club over the years. Even Marquez scored! End result: Barca 4, Real Zaragoza 1.

All in all, it was a brilliant mid-week match and a straight shot to the critics who naively think that Barca can't hold their own without Ronaldinho. He'd no doubt be missed--I personally would hate to see him depart--but we'd get by. He may have made the club what it is today--i.e. a global brand--but he didn't put the club on the map. All of the individuals that make up this glorious squad are important components of its success--including Oleguer! But none of them are bigger than it; none of them are bigger than the history, the supporters, the residue of good and bad memories that surely permeate the atmosphere within the Camp Nou. That history combined with those players and those Fortean moves are the elementary particles that make Barca so dear to so many the world over.

I hope the fans greet Ronaldinho with loving arms when he returns to the pitch soon. But I also hope that he doesn't forget that we'll sleep fine without him if he ditches us for that icy Russian blonde.


Denis González said...

At this times, Messi is the best soccer player in the World.

Derek said...

I agree, Denis! Messi is remarkable. That first goal of his was, not surprisingly, brilliant. And then the second one!

But the Zaragoza goal was splendid too. I actually felt sorry for their keeper, Sanchez, after that third Barca goal by Iniesta. Bad night for him and for the Zaragoza fans. I think we know which Milito brother has bragging rights tonight.

Linda said...

Great post, and I completely agree.

People who say we're rubbish without Ronnie don't know what they're on about. Frankly, right now I'm not sure if he should start over Iniesta, unless he's fully recovered and back to his former self.

It was sweet how the fans chanted his name in support during this game, though.

Derek said...

Thanks, Linda. I love our #10 and would hate to see him leave, especially to Chelsea. And if you believe the English press (and ESPN here in the States) Ronnie is already there, blah blah blah. Why? Because Ronnie's brother had lunch with Abramovich? Of course R's brother is talking to other clubs--he does that all the time to help get his brother's price up with Barca. But he also does that because he represents other players. Who's to say he isn't wheeling and dealing for another player? Anyway... if Ronnie wants to go--then he should go. I love the city of London dearly, but why he'd rather play there other than in Barcelona is beyond me. Just think of the food, Ronnie! The weather! And I'm not so sure his style of football would fit well at Chelsea anyway, even with this supposed overnight re-invention of the club's style. If he went anywhere, Ronnie would end up in Milan, I'd guess. Again, because of lifestyle choices and because Milan, at least, plays a more fluid style of the game.

I don't know. If he goes, he goes. But I think it would be a stupid move (not monetarily, of course) ultimately.