The Relationship: Samuel Eto’o & Pep Guardiola

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I think Eto’o would have finished a few of the chances that Ibrahimovic was served up by Messi and Xavi in the Champions League match everyone was waiting for.

The talent on the field was incredible. From the two best right backs in the world, in Alves on one side for Barca and then Maicon on the other for Inter Milan. There was little Lionel Messi and Xavi and Henry. There was another former Barcelona player in Motta. There was Lucio. There was Milito. Is he in the Argentine side? He should be. And there was the coaching duel.

But it everyone was looking at Ibrahimovic and Eto’o. The crowd whistled every time Ibrahimovic touched the soccer ball.

Ibrahimovic had a volley, a header or two, and then a few balls played along the face of the goal that he should have gotten at least a shot on goal from. Instead, he didn’t get much, and all Barca got was a draw. Three or four different times Xavi or Messi bent in a lovely cross for him to smash home. Will it all come with a little time or will Guardiola miss Eto’o? Was there a hug after this hand shake?

Despite one last fantastic year at FC Barcelona in 2009, Samuel Eto’o was living a nightmare due to his tumultuous relationship with Pep Guardiola. Pushed towards the door, he describes how the Catalan coach ruined his life for an entire year.

Eto’o gave his all for the Barcelona shirt, and it’s a bit sad not seeing him out there wearing it. It’s sad not to see him as the last piece of that Xavi, Messi and Iniesta puzzle. Even Messi said he was surprised that they didn’t resign Eto’o.

“It was a deal that surprised me because Samuel has given so much to Barcelona, with the amount of goals he scored, the titles he has won,” he told reporters in Milan.

“He was a very important player. But so was Ibrahimovic to Inter – he was an essential player.”

Guardiola didn’t want to sign Eto’o prior to their treble winning season in the first place. He only warmed to him after Eto’o had a good preseason. Now, he may regret letting him leave. He had this to say prior to the match about Eto’o:

“I hope to say hello and thank him for everything he gave us over the last five years,” he told reporters at a press conference.

Ibra will find his form and then once the goals come they will come in truckloads. Or at least that’s what Guardiola is hoping. He paid Inter Milan a ton of money to sign Ibrahimovic – $66 million dollars plus Eto’o and Aleksandr Hleb.

Really, it’s an absurd deal on the face of it. And there’s no way that Ibrahimovic can live up to it on the business side, unless Barcelona can become Champions League champ again this year. And even that might not be enough.

In the end it may turn out to just be a hell of steal for The Special One, Jose Mourinho, if he and Eto’o can take Inter Milan to the promised land of Champions League title. Mourinho’s side might be missing a player or two to make that happen.

Yet, what runs Barcelona is their team. The way they play together. Every single player can play the ball with precision. All they need is Ibra to knock home that final pass when it’s served up on a platter.

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