2 games in succession without winning feels a bit more like a lifetime than just 2 matches due to the recent years of success. That’s certainly how much of the media have taken it. Marca, apparently, even went as far as replacing the FCB in our club crest with “ZZZ” to make the point the team appears to be sleeping (I could not find the image nor the article but this is according to Tim Stanndard). Other Madrid leaning papers used phrases such as “end of a cycle/era”.
Well, all that is complete and utter rubbish. I’m not concerned in the least with the back to back 2-2s, as I’ve always felt a team that plays such an elite brand of football will need time to reconnect on a footballing level as well as reach maximum fitness. Still it’s only normal to have a few gripes here and there. Having Pique and Puyol back together will be great, or at least one to partner Mascherano as Busquets is truly better served in the midfield. We would all like Pedro’s ruthless finishing back, and I’m sure everyone here has been most unimpressed with Villa thus far (perfect freekick Wednesday aside). The team does deserve the benefit of patience, so let’s leave Pep to it. Also, I do not for one second believe this team lacks hunger nor desire. They are driven by their status, to create more legacy to this historic team, and never let public enemy number one and his outrageously expensive team trump us. I’m also of the mindset that these draws were not as much complacency as people think. It’s too common nowadays to dismiss the opponent and that has happened againt Real Sociedad, and against Milan, like I commented, when a team plays with 10 defenders chances will not pile up. We created enough against Milan, just didn’t convert them. The slow play, rather patient play, was a consqeuence of our rivals tactics, not our mindset.
Puyol did his captain duties on Thursday, attacking the nonsense reports that this team is ending an era or feeling unmotivated. Here are a selection of quotes that make his points very clear. “We are aware of what we have on our hands, the stakes are very high and we will continue working as we have done until now, not listening to what is said outside. Sooner or later the results we want will arrive. We have no doubt”….“The praise of recent years does not affect us, neither for good nor the contrary. Recently we were the best team in the world, and now, some have many doubts about us. We know where we are and it’s normal for a football team that there are times when you’re up and others when you’re down”, and finally on the last two games “merit of the rivals, more than from our own fault … Here we defend and attack all together, and, therefore, it is not worth saying that our defense or defenders are to blame for this question.” I think Puyol was spot on in his comments, not getting too over zealous but making it extremely clear this team is not happy about the results but are not buying into ridiculous knee-jerk reactions by some.
So Wednesday night we drew 2-2 against AC Milan at home despite fighting hard to come back from that shock early goal that highlighted the weaknesses with having two midfielders at centerback. Nevertheless, beside the disappoitment of a 92 minute equalizer and Iniesta’s muscle tear, there was at least one major positive on the night, the return of our iconic captain Carles Puyol. Another positive was a simply superb display from Abidal. Saturday night at 8 pm local time, the Camp Nou receives Osasuna and very bluntly, only a 3 point return will be acceptable.
At home to Osasuna will be a splendid time to get the confidence back. The team from Pamplona have started the season just as well as ourselves, with one win and a draw. Still, Mendilibar’s team with no true superstar to talk of, and who are traditionally only strong at home, should be a team we expect to beat and I think need to beat so as not to lose any more ground to Madrid and to shut the press up a bit.
Pique and Alexis are still injured, and now Iniesta joins them on the side line. Thankfully we have a rather good player in Cesc Fabregas to come in for him. It would be great to see Puyol start and get 90 minutes.
Sport went with the headline Thursday “Están cabreados”, meaning they are fed up/annoyed, creating the image that the team is frustrated with their own start and plan to rectify the sitatuation. Let’s see how “cabreado” they are.