Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Messi-Eto'o-Henry: Barcelona's Prolific Trident

author: Gabriele Marcotti
source: The Times

date: 13 April 2009

Something unusual happened at the Nou Camp when Recreativo Huelva visited on Saturday. For only the fourth time this season, Barcelona played there with Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry or Samuel Eto’o and none of them scored.

One of those three has scored in 83 per cent of Barcelona’s home matches this season. Amazing as that may sound; their performance away from home has been even more impressive: they’ve scored in 91 per cent of the matches when at least one of them has played.

The three have notched a combined 85 goals in Barcelona’s 49 matches in all competitions. Henry has 22 goals in 32 appearances, Eto’o 31 in 39 and Messi 32 in 42. Those are the kind of numbers you ordinarily get on the PlayStation, not in real life.

Just compare them with the front threes of other top European sides. Real Madrid’s trio of Gonzalo Higuain (17), Raúl (20) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (8) has 45; Inter Milan’s – Zlatan Ibrahimovic (23), Adriano (7) and Mario Balotelli (6) – has 36; while Juventus’s – Alessandro Del Piero (17), Amauri (14) and Vincenzo Iaquinta (11) – has 42. Bayern’s three-some of Miroslav Klose (20), Luca Toni (15) and Franck Ribéry (11) are at 46. As for the English clubs, Liverpool – Steven Gerrard (21), Fernando Torres (14) and Dirk Kuyt (10) – has 45 and Chelsea’s – Nicolas Anelka (21), Frank Lampard (17) and Didier Drogba (10) – has 48.

The closest you get is, Manchester United, where Cristiano Ronaldo has 20, Wayne Rooney 17 and Dimitar Berbatov 13, for a total of 50. But that is way behind Barcelona.

Messi has pulverised his previous best tally for a season, which stood at 17. Eto’o needs two to match his personal best of 33 from the 2005-06 season. However, barring a miracle, Henry won’t set a new personal best – he’d need to score 39, like he did for Arsenal in 2003-04.

Credit has to go to the three individuals, particularly Eto’o and Henry, because while Messi was universally hailed as a superstar who would only get better, the other two were written off in many quarters last summer. When Arsenal sold Henry to Barcelona for £16 million in 2007, many believed that the Catalan club had been robbed blind. He was soon to turn 30, he was coming off a lacklustre season and his pace was supposedly on the wane.

Eto’o had been slowed by injuries the previous two seasons, like many African footballers he was plagued by the usual unfounded murmurings about his “real age” (he is 28), and it was suggested that he could be “surplus to requirements”. What is more, both were accused of being egomaniacs who could destabilise any dressing-room.

The trio are helped tremendously by Barcelona’s attacking ethos and supporting cast: with Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Daniel Alves providing service, you are bound to get plenty of chances. But all three forwards have shown themselves to be incredibly unselfish as well, disregarding their own numbers and working hard to create opportunities for each other.

It’s also curious to note that, while they are all prolific, none of them is a traditional centre forward. They’re not particularly threatening in the air, nor are they particularly powerful (Eto’o is probably the strongest of the three and he’s hardly a giant). In fact, what defines them most, apart from their technical ability, is their continuous and intelligent movement. They drop back, they go wide, they switch positions and they befuddle opponents with an almost telepathic knowledge of where the other two are.

Barcelona may go on to complete a La Liga and Champions League double. But even if they don’t, the achievements of these three men – who, between them, will likely go on to score more than 100 goals this year – deserve to take their place in history. And while with Messi we know that the best is yet to come, when it comes to Eto’o and Henry you can’t help but admire the guts and professionalism that, once again, has confounded the critics.

read the full and original article here

Read more:
Why are Barcelona scoring so many goals?
Barcelona Is Winning With Style
Henry: "Messi sometimes looks like Maradona"


noubarca said...

yet to read it but perfect picture for the topic

barcacanada said...

damn, this was an excellent post! i sure hope they keep their focus and fitness to earn at least 1 major championship this season, because we all know they deserve it - with all these stats and performances.

noubarca said...

ok! i have jst read it. well said. Dont even compare our frontline line to others; it makes them look bad.

Harshawardhan said...

hehe.. well said nou!
although i am getting more and more nervous as the 'mini league' approaches... i hope and pray to god that barca does all of us proud and play the best football the world has ever seen.

BA said...

decent article, except that Henry didn't play against Recre.

Gilman said...

BA, the article states when "Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry or Samuel Eto’o" play, emphasis on OR not AND, it repeats that later on.

I hope that they can bring the total to 100 and wonder if that has been done in top flight football before.

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