Does Henry merit a place in Barca’s starting XI?

September 24, 2008

Henry listens to the ref

Thierry Henry is in danger of playing a peripheral role in Pep Guardiola’s new look Barcelona with his continued failure to find his feet in Spain.

The France striker missed Sunday’s 6-1 rout of Sporting Gijon due to a throat infection, and that leaves Guardiola with a tough choice as to whether to keep a team that claimed a first league win of the season, or continue rotating his players for Wednesday’s visit of Real Betis.

The latter is the most likely course of events with a derby against Espanyol coming up at the weekend and a Champions League trip to face Shakhtar Donetsk next week.

But the question remains, should Henry feature in Guardiola’s best starting XI?

Against Sporting, who admittedly are bottom of the table, Barca were outstanding. Their pressuring of opponents when they didn’t have the ball was impressive, and when they did hold possession they were a delight to watch.

Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o are first choices up front, while Andres Iniesta appears to have filled the space on the left vacated by Ronaldinho with aplomb, creating and scoring goals. Iniesta’s versatility means he can play in a variety of positions, but he will always play.

With Xavi and a holding player like Yaya Toure or Seydou Keita almost guaranteed places, Henry is in effect competing with one of the youth team products Guardiola seems keen to blood in the side.

Winger Pedro Rodriguez and midfielder Sergio Busquets have won over the home fans, something Henry has yet to achieve after a year in Barcelona. Aleksandr Hleb’s injury means his former Arsenal team mate doesn’t enter the equation just yet.

Is Henry simply going to be first-change striker behind Eto’o, competing with another fan favourite Bojan Krkic? It’s looking that way.

20 comments

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I always wonder what the British press (particularly the English) have against Henry’s move to Barcelona.You guys have been cooking up stories of woe ever since he left for Bercelona: first you told us that Wenger sold him because he would never recover from his groin injury, then they told us he was so useless that he was bound to be sold in the summer (although he was Barca’s top scorer last season).Last week, The Independent published a story in which they told us that Henry’s career was over because he had been dropped against Racing and that he would definitely be sold in the winter window, only for him to start the Champions League game against Sporting Lisbon and give a man-of-the-match performance.Now, Barca has a good game without him and we are told that he will be fighting with the youth-team players for a place on the bench…

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

Vincent, you just mentioned what the “British Press” has been saying. What do YOU think with the turn of events? I hope you have been watching and noting the performance of the Barca striking force. Where do YOU place Thierry Henry on that attacking line if you were to give an objective starting 11 for Barcelona given recent form.I will tell you something, the “French Press” warned Eto’o in 2006 about Laporta’s interest for Thierry Henry and it was concluded that if he came to Barca, Eto’o will be on the bench. This annoyed Eto’o given that Henry was his friend. … He is in Barca today and I think it is acclaimed that he is better than Henry.Finally to help you, Henry was not Barca’s top scorer last season. He played 30 matches and scored 12 goals. Eto played just 18 matches and notched in 16 goals.To simply answer the question from the article, No Henry does not deserve a place in Barcelona’s starting 11. He could work himself up to be a super sub.

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

I hate it wen people talk nonsense, the fact that eto’o played fewer games bcos he was injured is not henry’s problem, after all, everyone gets injured.But collectively Henry was Barca’s top scorer last season with 19 goals in total,12 in la liga, while eto’o finished with a total of 18 goals,maybe his ratio was better compared to henry’s, but the total wasn’t.Henry was top scorer, it doesn’t matter if u hate him!!!talking of ratios, if u play ten games and score ten goals, u r no better than a person who scores 30 goals in 40 games,so scoring more is always the better thing to do rather than getting injured or not being selected,it’s not another players problem.

Posted by makumbanem | Report as abusive

Sorry Makumbanem, Thierry Henry is paid to score goals. He is in Barca to score the goals, let him score them period. What else has he got in him? Let him score goals!!! He complained of being put on the left wing and needed the axial position, he was given it and still has to convince me… I am a Barca supporter and so I have good intentions as concerns Henry but as concerns the question in the article, he does not deserve a starting spot. What is nonsense in my opinion??? You think it should be sense only when others think like you?

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

Henry scored 19 goals in 40 matches for Barca last season. That is almost a goal every two games.Whether Henry starts or not depends on tactics that Guardiola wants and the schedule. Barca played Sporting Gijon on Sunday, Betis on Wednesday, Espanyol on Saturday, Donetsk on Tuesday… There are enough matches for Henry, Etoo, Iniesta to play. So whether or not he makes the starting 11 is a non-issue that journalists are trying to use to promote their agenda that Henry is finished.Moreover, Iniesta is a midfielder not a striker. Also, there is no need for two defensive midfielders when Barca is playing at home because most teams come there to defend. In such matches, Henry is likely to start in front and Iniesta in midfield.We all know Henry is 30-31 years old, so it is ridiculous to expect him to be the same Henry that he was when he was 25-27. This media obsession about whether he is good enough for Barca is unnecessary.

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

Henry transfer to Barca to win tittles, and score goals for the then injured Eto’o. Now that Eto’o is fit, and did not leave during the transfer season, Henry will probably see the most action during Copa del Rey. Its a shame, since he is a great player, but he never gave the Barca coaching staff nor its fans a reason for him to start over Eto’o.

henry has been rubbish since joining barca.No pace and no understanding with etoo or messi. He is all heart now, but that’s not what barca needIniesta-Etoo-Messi with Bojan replacing iniesta if he’s required elsewhere

Posted by cian | Report as abusive

Just to add to the debate, Barcelona beat Real Betis 3-2 at home on Wednesday night with a starting frontline of Messi, Eto’o and Iniesta – Henry on the bench. Messi set up Eto’o for the first two goals. In the second half, it was Bojan Krkic who came on as sub for the Cameroon striker and Henry never got a run out. It will be interesting to see what Guardiola does on Saturday for the Espanyol game, but the most revealing picture will probably be for the Champions League match next week.

Posted by Mark Elkington | Report as abusive

Good comment Loginoffski, the greatest russian player of 96′

Posted by Hans Moman | Report as abusive

Henry should be used to warm the bench!

Posted by Loginoffski | Report as abusive

I wish everyone would lay off Henry. He is, and will remain a sporting genius for any club. So what, if he has been unfortunate enough to be injury prone, that’s part and parcel of the game. Leaving Arsenal was his decision and the club (Barcelona) took him on therefore the question of whether he deserves to be there or not is unwarranted. Why not single out every other top striker? This appears to be a personal attack on Henry! Who cares about the goal ratio? the most important aspect is that when he is on the pitch he gives it 100%. Age, history, bears no resemblance. He is a football player who focuses with his head and plays with all his heart. I have immense respect for Thierry and wish him the best of luck!! The press speculate because they want to fill the blank pages that’s their job. Given a chance Thierry can prove everyone wrong. Being an Arsenal fan I’m not bitter at losing the man who put the club on a winning platform I believe you should never hold back a talent that is capable of achieving so much more. Long live Henry!

Posted by Suzi Mann | Report as abusive

I wish everyone would lay off Henry. He is, and will remain a sporting genius for any club. So what, if he has been unfortunate enough to be injury prone, that’s part and parcel of the game. Leaving Arsenal was his decision and the club (Barcelona) took him on therefore the question of whether he deserves to be there or not is unwarranted. Why not single out every other top striker? This appears to be a personal attack on Henry! Who cares about the goal ratio? the most important aspect is that when he is on the pitch he gives it 100%. Age, history, bears no resemblance. He is a football player who focuses with his head and plays with all his heart. I have immense respect for Thierry and wish him the best of luck!! The press speculate because they want to fill the blank pages that’s their job. Given a chance Thierry can prove everyone wrong. Being an Arsenal fan I’m not bitter at losing the man who put the club on a winning platform I believe you should never hold back a talent which is capable of achieving so much more. Long live Henry!

Posted by Suzi Mann | Report as abusive

Henry shouldn’t warm the bench he is a dominant force on the field and he still has a ton of goals left in him.http://www.soccershop.com

A dominant force? I have to question that..maybe you meant dormant farce!?

Posted by Loginoffski the greatest russian player of 96' | Report as abusive

Dominant force? I have to question that..I think you meant dorment farce!

Posted by Loginoffski | Report as abusive

Henry should warm the bench after having 85 minutes on the pitch and scoring goals.

Posted by Hans Moman | Report as abusive

No way! In my opinion he has been always a overestimated player. He never played well for france and the only team were he succeeded was Arsenal which never won anything in Europe. Eto’o is ten times better player than him. He is just another “mercenary”.

Thierry Henry does not deserve a place ahead of Eto. So his biggest problem now is Iniesta occupying that position. For the time being he has to play seccond fiddle to Iniesta as Iniesta is in great form.http://www.allaboutfcbarcelona.com/ 2008/09/messy-win-espanyol-1-fc-barcelon a-2.html

It was over for Henry the moment he left Arsenal.

Posted by Bloginoffskiov | Report as abusive

Yuo haters better shut up if you have nothing better to say. You cant compare Thierry to Eto’o.Eto’o is good but Thierry is a World Class striker.Even a kindergaten knows that.Give him time to adjust to spanish football, his right position which is centre forward and tell me if eto’o will outsmart henry never.So lets be real,sober and logic while criticizing a superstar like henry.To add on that Henry is 31 eto’o is 27.You cant compare henry when he was prime and eto’o now.henry was very good at his prime than eto’o is now.His goals are very beatiful than eto’o's and he has achieved many awards than eto,o.Dont just criticize him(henry) now when he’s struggling with fitness.HENRY UR A MAVERICK AND GALACTICO.HENRY FOREVER.

Posted by otindo | Report as abusive