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Barcelona’s New Pale Force

Alexander Helb was uncomfortable in London, too hectic, too fast paced he said. Or was he just unhappy on the pitch, with Cesc Fabregas grabbing all the attention and then Rosicky bound to return soon?

Does he really think Barcelona is going to be that much different? There’s Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, and now a potential member of Conan and Gaffigan's pale force in Alexander Helb.

Pale Force

Yeah, there’s a certain casualness to the Barcelona life, late night dinners, beers and tapas, but it’s not like he’s going to some quiet city or club. I’ve seen a Barcelona match where Patrick Kluivert was whistled off the field, 90,000 joining together to whistle the player off the pitch. He ducked into the tunnel to avoid any projectiles and death glares. Of course, Helb can handle the pressure since he’s played at Arsenal, but he’s just not the right fit and no Deco. Just look at this pass by Deco for proof. A long ball perfectly played to Ronaldinho to start the play. Helb is more of a short passing guru, rather than someone to spread the field, which is what Barcelona lacks at times.

Helb is another example of Barcelona adding more of the same pieces, and trying to replace one piece that’s irreplaceable, in Deco. It’s like there signing of Henry last year, there was no need for it. It was only a disruption to a fine tuned machine. A couple more correctly angled passes and Barcelona could have trumped Manchester United and perhaps gone on to win the Champions League. Though in truth, the main disruption to the club was the drop in quality of play from Ronaldinho, and that tainted the whole club.

Alexander Hleb

Helb could very well prove me wrong, and turn the style on at Barcelona and connect the dots almost as well as Deco, but I’d be surprised and don’t think he’ll do it, and definitely not with as much cool indifference as Deco. And that’s what I love about Barcelona, there’s a clinical intensity when it’s needed and a joy when it’s deserved, all the rest is just what’s expected—the needle in the haystack through passes and the head spinning gives-and-goes. Barcelona is expected to win with win with style and skill.

Helb is coming from Arsenal, where they perhaps play with as much style as any team in the EPL, but like Barcelona they couldn’t put the ball into the back of the net or the nail in the coffin when they needed to.

Barcelona’s had other problems on the defensive front, injuries and finding the right pairing of defenders, which never seemed to come to a good conclusion. Even Pujol had a few bad games, perhaps trying too hard to solve their problems. But fresh off their Euro 2008 win, there’s no doubt Pujol, Iniesta, and Xavi will all be at their best.

Barca do have another pale white guy at the club in the Icelander Gudjohnsen, although not sure if he’s going to be with the club much longer. Gudjohnsen overcame the incorrect perception that we wasn’t going to fit in at Barcelona, some thought he lacked the smooth touch, but he showed more flair than one would expect and did so consistently. Actually, he seemed to be on the same page as Ronaldinho, Eto’o and Deco more so than Henry.

There are other possible pale force members, one being Iniesta, and Messi’s not too far off, but Helb seems more white. If Barcelona were to add Lampard and Frings the Barcelona supporters would revolt—just too much whiteness on the pitch, nearly causing a glare, causing fans to don sunglasses a la Nicholson. And if they signed the Russian Arshavin, they'd have to spray tan him before he played.

But does Barca need another clever short passer of the ball? What they really need is a finisher, especially if they let Eto’o go. Sure they have Henry and Bojan, both extraordinaire players. But they could really use a Drogba rather than a Helb. After all, he’s just not a Deco and he ain't pale.


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