Barcelona 2008-2009 season review : In Pep we trust!!!!!!

4 06 2009


Wow.

There’s not much you can say other than that word. It’s almost unfathomable what occurred. Nine players left and six players arrived (the 7th, Henrique, has yet to arrive, so to speak), the season began in qualifiers, found its first heart attack — an omen of things to come? — moved to defeat in Soria, and then, like some sort of an RPG of godlike beauty, raced upwards to the highest of heights and never really looked like faltering, despite the occasional blip.

Copa, Lliga, CL Champions.

Those words haven’t gotten old yet and I don’t think they will. A real treble made of three real competitions that could blood, guts, and plenty of tactical acumen. FC Barcelona is the first team in Spanish history to achieve such a result, even eclipsing the Real Madrid super team of the 1950s, at least in one sense. This is a feeling you don’t often have in sports, winning the treble and doing it in absolute style, so treasure it, remember it, and play Viva La Vida over and over again, just to remind yourself.

Copa, Lliga,  CL Champions.

Wow.

And so, we move on to the statistics, because there’s no reason not to delay the inevitable. I’m going to discuss them and it might as well be now, rather than later. The final table looks like this

Barça, Real Madrid, Sevilla, and Atleti all go to the Champions League; Villarreal and Valencia go to the Europa Cup/NIT; and Betis, Numancia, and Recreativo Huelva fall to La Segunda. Everyone else: midtable.

Surprise of the season: besides the treble, I’d say it’s that Atleti made the Champions League. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that. After that, maybe that Espanyol were able to dig themselves out of that insane hole they were in back in February. They went 8-1-1 to finish the year, earning 25 points to garner a top half finish from what, really, should have been a relegation year.

Not surprise of the season: Numancia relegated, Valencia struggles when not paying their players. Seriously, if you had known that Valencia was going to go months without paying their players, would you have doubted that they wouldn’t be in the Champions League spots? And Numancia has the smallest budget since, uh, Recre Huelva.

Back to the  boys in blaugrana and their brilliant statistics (if only it were babistics! The alliteration would have been bombastic!):

Goals scored:
Total: 154. Top scorer: Messi, 38
La Liga: 105. Top scorer: Eto’o, 30
Copa: 17. Top scorer: Messi, 6
Champions League: 32. Top scorer: Messi, 9
Minutes played per goal scored: Messi, 107 minutes ~37 seconds

Most appearances overall (Copa, La Liga, CL): Alves, Xavi, 52
Most minutes played overall (Copa, La Liga, CL): Alves, 4767
Most minutes played per appearance (outfield player with more than 5 appearances): Pique, 93.44

Most appearances in La Liga: Eto’o, 36
Most minutes played in La Liga (outfield): Xavi, 3106
Most minutes played per appearance in La Liga: Pique, 92.48

Most appearances in the Copa: Bojan, Busquets, Pinto, 9
Most minutes played in the Copa (outfield): Busquets, 782
Most minutes played per appearance in the Copa (outfield): Keita, 94.0000000

Most appearances in the Champions League: Pique, Xavi, Valdes, Messi, 12
Most minutes played in the Champions League (outfield): Pique 1144
Most minutes played per appearance in the Champions League (outfield): Alves, 95.70

So there you have it, the statistics from 2008/09. Who was our best player? I think that’s impossible to say because in every game there seemed to be someone else willing to step up, to become The Man for the minutes we needed them to do so. Take the second Clasico, where we were down 1-0 fairly early in the first half, even Phil Schoen saying we were down and out. And then Henry steps up. Then Puyol. Then Xavi robs Diarra and slots it to Messi. Then we let in another goal and it’s Henry again. Then Messi again. Then, of all people, El Piquenbauer, putting in the sixth, the hammer to the nail in the coffin of RM’s season, the hand that officially lifted the league trophy for us. Then there’s the Copa del Rey final, with The Yaya stepping through 4,894 defenders in order to fire in a lasercannonblast to win the Copa del Rey. Then there’s Iniesta’s Foot of God smacking the life out of Chelsea. Then there’s Eto’o cutting Vidic. There’s Messi powering the ball beyond Osasuna’s keeper. Then there’s Gudjohnsen scoring and Eto’o pushing Pep. Go back to the Gamper, to Puyol’s goal there, then Eto’o’s winner. Wherever you look: gorgeous play and with gorgeous goals. But overall I would say Messi for the shear aura he brings to the games after almost always being double marked.

This season will live on in superlatives uttered by Ray Hudson and in our memories as snapshots of brilliance and joy. And for that, I am grateful. To the whole team, to every member, even the ones who didn’t perform ‘well enough”. We, as fans, are indebted to them, to what they have given us, to 9 months unadulterated greatness. Statistics don’t come close to describing what was accomplished, what occurred, what every moment of every game was like. Talk of beautiful football and you now must speak of this year’s Barça.

Copa, Lliga,  CL Champions.

Wow.

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