Here’s something you don’t see every day:
Given that 45 yards is pretty far to head a ball, I’ll give him credit for getting it on target, but damn, that was a Valdes-at-his-worst (Zambrotta-at-his-best?) move by the keeper that would have had the lot of us screaming bloody murder. Note the Velez fans at the end looking stunned…what a brave bunch they are, traveling to La Bombonera.
Whatever, Barça, after the jump:
Top of the league with a victory over Almeria and then a classic in the Sanchez Pizjuan sends Madrid to their first defeat. While we labored a bit with a double man-mark in our midfield (Xavi and Iniesta), we were able to rely on a really solid performance in the back; Madrid met the sword I expected them to meet, though they put up a fight towards the end when Sevilla went all jittery and let them dictate play for a while. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Barça are a team, Madrid are a collection of individuals. They aren’t really dangerous yet because they aren’t cohesive. We’re always dangerous. Also, my prediction was true that Sevilla would win because they have a strike force capable of putting the ball in the back of the net. They’re no Xerez (who finally scored!) and they’re no Tenerife (who lost at home), so they put up a real fight. Interestingly enough, no strikers scored, though. And Casillas reaffirmed his place at the top of the goalkeeping pyramid, but that’s no surprise to anyone, is it? Phil Ball has some thoughts on the whole thing. He points out, again, that he’s not an RM man, but rather a Sociedad man. Respect.
In the NFL, most quarterbacks give their offensive line big Christmas presents (amazing dinners at fancy restaurants, cars, watches, etc), but in this football, do defenders give their goalies big presents? You’d think Casillas would be worth it, but I’m not sure Marcelo has the foresight. And Sergio Ramos is too busy eating cheeseburgers and (allegedly) banging hookers to care. But you’d think Albiol would be aware enough. I’m sure Puyol slaughters plenty of lambs/goats/cattle/kangaroos for Valdes and Pique probably gives Vic a couple of “Get Out of Being Pantsed Free” cards he can redeem anytime.
It’s International Break if you hadn’t noticed and that means several key members of the squad are headed to World Cup qualifiers. Here’s who:
Spain: Puyol, Pique, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta
France: Abidal, Henry
Ivory Coast: The Yaya (1 match)
Mali: Keita (1 match)
The teams that need wins are France, Sweden, and Argentina; Mali could use about 11 points from their match because Ghana is beating the pants off of them in their group, unfortunately for Keita. France take on the Faeroe Islands and Austria, both at home, while Sweden are at Denmark and then host Albania. Argentina face Peru and Uruguay in Argentina, which should make winning easier, but they’ve still got Maradona as their coach, so perhaps not.
Brazil has already qualified, so Alves should have an easy time of it, though I’m positive that if he gets playing time he’ll be running around at a million miles an hour anyway. Spain are qualified too, so I’m just praying for no injuries. Knock on wood, pray to [insert favorite deity here], whatever works. Mexico just need to beat El Salvador or Trinidad & Tobago and they’re qualified. You bet your bottom dollar I’ll be watching and cheering against them, of course.
We’ve got Valencia after the break in the Mestalla, so we need to not only return healthy, but do so in form and ready to hand a boot stomping over to Los Che (sorry Cesar!). David Villa went off injured against Racing and could miss the match, but you never know, what with the recuperative powers of some of these players these days…
Joshua Angoy Cruyff. Learn that name, if only because you already know his mother’s name. He’s The Johan’s grandson and he just joined Barça’s Juvenile B, playing the last 10 minutes of a 3-0 win. If he’s half the player his grandfather was, we’ll be seeing him in the first team soon. Of course, if he’s half the player his uncle was…we’ll be seeing him in the Tercera.
Take it easy and be prepared for statistical analysis to come rolling out throughout the week.