Barcelona, Granero, Ronaldo and Racing aka “Get Your Guns Cleaned, Bassam Is Discussing Ronaldo”By: Bassam | March 8th, 2011
long post means some music
There has been a lot of talk about the racing game and the reason the team was flowing so much in the first half. The second half was a bit slow, but thats partly due to the team taking a foot off the pedal as they usually do when they are ahead. There has been claims that the reason behind that, is Ronaldo not playing. There has been other claims that it was Granero that made the difference in the game. There has been other claims that say that it wasn’t neither, but rather Racing being poor. So Lets try and break this down, but before we start…
Man X: Did you hear? Ronaldo is out for 10 to 15 days. He might not make it to the Lyon game!
Man Y; Wow! That would suck! He has scored 70% of our goals!
Man X: Yea it would suck to not have him in the biggest game this season.
Man Y: We are doomed if he doesn’t play!!
Man X: We do have a 25 man squad…. Ooooh!! Game has started!!
[90 awesome minutes later]
Man X: Wow that first half was the best football we have played in so long!! Amazing!
Man Y: Yea it was great passing on our part!
Man X: Yea! I feel Granero added something to the midfield.
Man Y: Ozil is awesome!
Man X: It’s interesting that even without Ronaldo, we managed one of the best displays this season. I’m less worried that Ronaldo might miss the Lyon clash.
Man Y: Effff your mom. You idiot. You don’t know foozball!
Man X: but i think Ronaldo is one of the most important…
Man Y: And eff your sista and your father and your mather and your grandmather and your grandpapa and your mather…
Man X: You already said mother… 3 times…
[Man jumps out of bushes that magically grew once Man X uttered Ronaldo's name]
Man Z: I swear, i kill you, Man X. And i will kill your mother and father and sister and grandmother….
[Man X pulls out gun and shoots himself. 5 times]
[At the funeral]
Puyol the poster: Oooooh the grave for Barcelona fans are nicer. Ooooh barca fans die nicer. OOOOOOO MOC MOC OOOOOOO #I.GET.TURNED.ON.BY.MESSI #cannibalcorpe #PleaseComeToLoveBlogAgain!
*Disclaimer, this was meant to demonstrate a point in a rather not so serious way. Not particularly made to make you guys laugh, although I’m sure you got a crack out of Man X dying.*
So what im trying to say, please don’t have a cow if you disagree with my comments, especially the ones regarding Ronaldo. It is my opinion, and last i checked, just as you guys, I’m allowed to have it and say it! YAY to freedom! If you disagree with me, don’t attack me and say i hate this and im biased that and all that crap. Tell me why you think I’m wrong. I’m always up for a discussion.
So lets start with one point. I don’t believe the claims that Racing are poor. Prior to facing us, Racing was on a 6 game unbeaten record, winning their last 3 games. And if you watch the game again, Racing did pack the midfield a lot. In fact, they were playing with 3 pivots and two attacking mids (hence why we saw no attacks from the middle. Munites, who is supposed to be a second striker was at many times all the way back at his teams penalty box defending. A perfect example of this is the video that Andres made.
If you look at the video and the players, Racing was obviously pressuring our midfielders right after they lost the ball. The reason why this pressurizing didn’t work is because the team seemed on the same wavelength when it came to passing. There is a rule in football that my old coach used to always say, the ball moved fast than the player, so if you want to get it forward the fastest way, you have to pass it there, not run it there. There were three to four players around our players but we still got out of a tight situation very well. I should also note, that the reasons why this happened are two:
First, there was a good passing outlet other than Alonso. Usually, the second the team gets the ball, the pass goes to Alonso, and if Alonso does pass it back to his partner, it gets passed back very fast. Is it the limitation of his partners that leads to that? Maybe, but i personally don’t know. Granero, love him or hate him, offered a huge passing outlet in the game. As reported by Unamadradista, Granero did 75 passes, 62 of which were complete, during the game. As Una also pointed, this was way above the average that Khedira and Lass make ((42/36) and (42/37)). Granero this season has averaged (65/59) during the games he has played. When you have this player adding 20 to 30 extra passes per game, and being sound defensively (Mou’s words not mine), then there is no reason why the play shouldn’t be better. So statistics, the coach and the game show correlation between Granero’s presence and the style that we played yesterday.
Second, there was the Di Maria and Ozil factor. If you look at that video again, you can see how deep Ozil and Di Maria were dropping. Di Maria wasn’t involved in the play per say, but i loved how deep he was playing to help bring the ball forward. Once you have a player like Ozil dropping deep to play the ball, then you have three passing outlets. You have Alonso, Granero and Ozil who are all capable of spotting the pass and getting the ball forward. I discussed this a long time ago, but the more the likes of Ozil, Di Maria and Ronaldo drop back, the more control we have of our midfield and the better we can move the ball forward.
As for the Ronaldo factor, I don’t agree that he is the reason why the team can’t pull these passes together when he is on the field. A player of his quality can not, and should not be allowed to hinder the play of the team, and i don’t think he is. The thing is, what we saw against Racing was the variation in passing outlets. The ball was passed in attack to either Ozil, Di Maria, Benzema or Adebayor. This allowed the team to spread its play all around and not concentrate on one outlet. What happens when Ronaldo plays is not that he doesn’t pass or doesn’t know how to do one touch football, but rather that if the team concentrates on playing its game through him alone, then the other team expects it, and hence anticipated what will happen and close down the options. I don’t know whether this is something the team does, or rather an instruction from the coach, but either way, the Racing game was an indication that we have more than one game changer.
Ronaldo has improved since the start of the season on his passing and his endless runs/shots from god knows where. I give him credit for that. Of course, i do still believe that there is still room for improvement, as he is currently averaging 43 passes with 30 passes complete every game. This is an increase on last years numbers as he was making 32 passes, 25 of which are complete. I think Ronaldo has really good off the ball movement, and if the team is instructed to not concentrate the play through him alone, then we can always achieve the style of play we played against Racing. So to be clear, so no one confuses this, I think it wasn’t Ronaldo that was the problem (there really isn’t a problem, its just a big big improvement). I think a HUGE part has to do with the 2 points i put up, and for those who are wondering if Ronaldo can play in a system like that, then i think yes. As i said above, we just need to make sure we keep the variation we had against Racing in terms of passing and play.
So those were my thoughts on the game, and for those who are interested, Alonso averages 75 passes a game, 65 of which hit their target. Ozil on the other hand averages 67 passes a game, 55 of which reach their target. What was most interesting to me is that Di Maria averages 52 passes a game, with only 37 reaching their target. Thats a 71% success rate as opposed to 87 % by Alonso and 81 % by Ozil. But he does have a lot of assists to his name. If anyone is interested, towards the end of the season, i will make a post specific to statistics. It does take a lot of work getting the info, but if you guys want it, then you guys will have it .
I will end this post by congratulating the dark side (aka Barcelona) on their progression from the round of 16 and hopefully we will be on that same boat next week. Yes the red card on RVP was not fair, but in all due honesty, despite my hate of everything that is Barcelona, they deserved to win. The RVP red card can be argued with the penalty not being called on Messi. I would hate if my team controlled the game, had 19 shots as opposed to the zero that Arsenal had and then didn’t come out with a win. So I will list a few positives that went through my head after Barcelona won and that might help you go to sleep:
1) They get to stay in the CL which means more midweek games and higher chances of them dropping points. \
2) As a fan of football in general, I can’t honestly say Barcelona didn’t play much better than Arsenal even before the sending off. Unless that was the tactic made by Wenger to play crappy for 70 minutes and then kick Barcelona’s ass. Everything is possible, no?
3) We won’t have more EPL representatives than La Liga in the latter stages of the competition. Of course, I’m assuming we will go through.
4) One of my best friends is an Arsenal fan and is as obnoxious as they get. Plus I stopped by the Barca offside yesterday, and they had some troll problems. And they were the worse. As trashy as they get.
5) The RVP trick that Wenger pulled was really stupid IMO and I would hate if another manager did it against us. Knowing which striker is going to start against your team is essential in the tactics. I remember back 6 years ago, some team did that against us in the CL and I was super pissed.
6) Better for Spanish football and i don’t get to hear EPL people say they are better.
7) Me trying to bore you lot with a bunch of made up reasons why we can be happy about Barcelona progressing.
I always try to find positives when something i don’t like happens. The positives are not always that great though. In other news, Higuain is putting 9 hours a day in the gym as proposed by him and supported by Mourinho to get back in shape ASAP. Reports of him returning by the end of the month are rubbish and don’t believe them. He will probably return by May, but if he doesn’t recover fast, then i would say he stays till the end of next season. A hernia is something that is really delicate, and Kaka can vouch for that.
Anyways, those were my thoughts of the game and the whole situation. Hope you enjoyed it. I know a lot of you have talked about this, but what do you think of the whole matter. Tell me again! And please, if you disagree, I know im an SOB, so don’t remind me. Just tell me why you disagree.
The Guard of honor: You will see this video in posts at random points in my posts in the future. It just makes me happy, OOOOOO MOC MOC OOOOOO.