Messi, Guardiola honored, aka “Silver and gold, silver and gold ….”

It was, essentially, a day to celebrate excellence, a day in which there wasn’t a whole lot to say except “Duh.”

So Lionel Messi, in a result that should have surprised no one, won the FIFA Ballon d’Or this year, beating out one Thong Boy. I won’t get into what the Ballon really celebrates, or that I think Xavi should have won last year, and been in it with much more of a shout than a distant third place this year. Because as we know, this award celebrates goals.

Not only was it a day of honor for Messi, but Pep Guardiola won coach of the year, beating out Mou Mou and Sir. In the proof that the dude is all class, all the time, here are some of his remarks:

“I would like to dedicate this award to the thousands of people who have worked at Barca in the last 100 years and have helped build one of the best teams in the world. It is an honor for me to be part of the group which has built this incredible team. From the bottom of my heart I would like to dedicate this title to Tito Vilanova, my friend, companion, assistant, who is always there, even though he has not been with us that much lately.

“Tito, this one is for you.”

And if that wasn’t enough, in the Fifa World XI, we had 5, more than any other club in the world: Mr. Shakira, Ears, Ghostface, Maestro and La Pulga — Pique, Alves, Iniesta, Xavi and Messi. Others noted the class, style and genuine affection that Messi and Xavi have for each other, but this is as it should be. It’s just one more thing that, no matter what people say about the motto or what motives they erroneously ascribe to the derivation thereof, it really is mes que un club. It’s a family, one rooted in excellence and the pursuit of a single goal: silver.

Ultimately, I’m not at all sure what accolades do to our club. Do they make the players hungrier for more. Has is really been that long since the two trophyless seasons that ushered in the Guardiola Era? Do players forget that life isn’t always tickertape parades before hundreds of thousands of screaming Catalans? Good questions, all, and something to contemplate. We can also natter away about who voted for who and why. Did Casillas vote for Thong Boy and Nemo because he honestly felt that they were the two best players in the world, or because that’s just what captains do? Who would Puyol have voted for, were the positions reversed? In what was almost certainly going to be a landslide, why not vote for team harmony. After all, everyone knows better now, don’t they?

But for now, I leave you with the guy who almost certainly had more fun than anybody else in our traveling party:

"Yo, sir .... SIR! S'up?"
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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

77 Comments

  1. blitzen
    January 9, 2012

    That’s an awesome pic of Dani! 😀

    Sorry for reposting, but I wanted to make sure my FFT offer got out there:

    So some good stuff happened today:

    Leo won his 3rd straight Ballon d’Or…and made a point of dedicating it to Xavi. Hearts and flowers.

    Pep won Best Coach of 2011…and promptly dedicated it to Tito. <3

    Thierry Henry returned to the field for Arsenal…and scored the game-winning goal after being on for less than 10 minutes! (I am especially pleased that he did that after the HLH was shit for the entire game. 😛 )

    And to top it off, I finally got the latest issue of FourFourTwo…and they messed up and sent me two copies instead of one! So I have a spare copy of this excellent magazine (it's the one with Cesc on the cover) and am willing to donate it to a fellow cule–sorry, can only mail within Canada though. Who wants it? Kari?

      • January 10, 2012

        It’s mine, MINE I say!!

        Ahem. Sorry. Broke students tend to get territorial.

        • blitzen
          January 10, 2012

          Sorry, mani, I offered it to Kari first. 🙂

        • January 10, 2012

          Does Ottawa even have a post office! Hmph. Fair enough you win this time but the next time blitz gets two in the mail… lol

          Looks like I’ll be lounging around Chapters to get my read on. Surprising a lot of the magazine/book stores don’t carry fourfourtwo. World Soccer is everywhere though.

          • blitzen
            January 10, 2012

            FFT can be found at Presse Internationale magazine stores. I used to buy mine at the one near Bathurst/Bloor. You can also find it at the Toronto airport. A subscription will save you a ton of money, though.

  2. messifan
    January 9, 2012

    Congrats Messi! I saw his speech and was very touched when he started talking about Xavi 🙂 He seemed to speak so eloquently as well! Pep’s speech was also great. I hope Tito can recover and come back soon. We miss him.

    It was a little disappointing that RM did not attend this gala. From the sportsmanship perspective, this was a celebration of their fellow players and they couldn’t at least join in. Why so bitter!?

    Moving on to fashion. I love Messi’s suit. D&G makes the right call. It’s a bit similar to last year’s; I love the color and would also love to see it with a different tie color. Pep always looks classy. I saw a photo of him wearing a winter grey jacket unbuttoned with two blue strips showing. Love that flash of color!!! Not impressed with Shakira’s dress. Too mermaid-like and heavy. With the embroidery and those pointy things on her chest, meh…but her hair and makeup look nice.

    • Jackieboy
      January 9, 2012

      Well they really are having a tough game the following evening, not much point in flying around Europe just to take part in a silly gala (especially given how obvious it was that Messi would take the gold).

  3. barca96
    January 9, 2012

    Where can you guys see the list of who voted for who.

  4. BA
    January 10, 2012

    it’s a wonderful honor, and Messi was uber-gracious in his acceptance speech.

    but let’s talk about that suit….

    Hugh Hefner called from the 70’s, he wants it back.

    • barca96
      January 10, 2012

      Hahaha you’re right.

      It is Hugh Hefner’s jacket!

  5. ak
    January 10, 2012

    Hey, I thought you couldn’t vote for your own countrymen.

    How come Terry’s voted for Rooney???

    • ak
      January 10, 2012

      Scratch that, you obviously can.

      I was debating with a couple for madridistas last year on why Casillas didn’t vote for Xavi and Iniesta, and they said cause he couldn’t, and I took their word for it.

      • barca96
        January 10, 2012

        No. This is the first time where they can vote for their countryman. But Iker still didn’t even vote for Xavi.

        I really pity Xavi. Xavi is is probably the most important player in the Spain NT who is responsible for winning the Euro and WC and guess who is the one who lifted the cup at both times?

        • ak
          January 10, 2012

          Yup, it’s a shame.

          1st place vote from your national team’s captain and childhood friend is something that Xavi should be taking for granted.

          Another question though, can they vote for themselves?

          • barca96
            January 10, 2012

            I understand if he wants to vote for Ronaldo first because they’re team/club mates, but not Mesut Ozil over Xavi. C’mon, gimme a break, Ozil is not even in the running for the title and even so, he has Iniesta to thank for for the World Cup win and also Iniesta is a better player.

          • bridgette
            January 10, 2012

            You can’t vote for yourself.

            The rumor is that neither Iker nor VDB were aware the rules had changed and they could vote for Spaniards.

  6. Gogah
    January 10, 2012

    I really hope he can lead us to another league and CL and render the star of the Euros insignificant for the next Ballon D’Or.
    unless that star is Xavi.

    • hammeronmessi
      January 10, 2012

      u always use the phrase “shameless plug guys”.its time you use another phrase.

      dont know bout others,always enjoy reading your posts on your blog

  7. hammeronmessi
    January 10, 2012

    @ahsan,

    read your post.good but IMO its too short,it ended before it took its flight.

    Side note: It is very clear from the voting for the award that certain countries — I’m looking at you, Azerbaijan, Burundi, New Zealand, and Pakistan, amongst others — should have their privilege of mattering for these awards revoked. Some truly shocking votes, really.

    ^this.truly abysmal voting by some captains and coches

    • January 10, 2012

      There were one too many votes for Thomas Muller as #1. I mean, he is decent, an up and coming talent, but #1 in the world? What were these coaches/captains thinking?

      • January 10, 2012

        I genuinely believe half the voters don’t watch any football other than Utd vs Liverpool or the World Cup or whatever. Look at how many people voted for Benzema (!).

        • Jackieboy
          January 10, 2012

          It’s collateral damage of merging the two awards. Earlier, the FIFA World Player of the Year was picked by the captains and coaches of the national teams, and the Ballon d’Or was decided by l’Equip and some other journalists, who obviously know more than the captain of the Burkina Faso NT. That’s why the Ballon d’Or, even though it was eurocentric, was generally held in higher esteem.

      • Ryan
        January 10, 2012

        Votes for Sneijder were also strange, as he probably deserved a top 3 mention in 2010 but was absolutely mediocre in 2011.

  8. January 10, 2012

    Hahaha I suppose it did look like something Hefner would wear.

    The entire time I was thinking it looked exactly like the jacket Johnny Depp wore as Willy Wonka. As long as the pulga wears blaugrana ON the field, I couldn’t care less what he wears OFF it.

  9. incense
    January 10, 2012

    I am Bulgarian and our NT coach and captain have both voted TB as #1. I feel ashamed.. 🙁

    • January 10, 2012

      For some reason, a lot of Eastern European and Central Asian countries voted for Ronaldo over Messi. Pure speculation, but I wonder if those countries and cultures place a greater value on physical gifts and “strong” men.

      • barca96
        January 10, 2012

        I read the list at least three times now for every single vote. It looks like most of the Ronaldo votes came from the really small footballing countries. It’s just how it seems because Ronaldo didn’t get that many votes but when you look at the list, you will only see his name on the same line as a small nation.

  10. Srini
    January 10, 2012

    Jonathan Wilson is always worth a serious read. Here he is, warning/pointing about/to the “Three Year Syndrome of Greatness” –

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jan/10/three-year-rule-barcelona

    Now that the Ballon D’or is out of the way, Pep Guardiola has a real job on his hands. How does he continue his tactical revolution going for the evolving Barca, even as he ensures that the team shows continuity in its domination? The answer will very well tell us whether Barca will buck the trend and continue its march on to become the best ever team. We are witnessing the ebbs and turns of history-in-the-making, folks.
    ——-

    Sid Lowe is helping us in his own way – trying to reverse jinx us by suggesting that 5 points are going to be too difficult to overcome. May he continue to predict the worst! –

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jan/09/espanyol-catalan-rivals-barcelona
    ——–

    And here is a request for Euler – how about a post explaining the home-away difference for Barca from a tactical standpoint?

  11. hammeronmessi
    January 10, 2012

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jan/10/three-year-rule-barcelona

    an interesting article,but the last line ruined it for me.

    If they can kick on, if they can overcome Guttmann’s three-year rule, then their achievement will be truly historic; if it does all slip away, then they will merely have been another excellent team.”

    merely another excellent team!!!!!!!!!.this team!!!!i know its his opinion but he wrote it in such a way that there were like 100 of excellent teams in the history of football.

    • January 10, 2012

      That’s an excellent piece that is spot-on. Thanks for the link.

    • January 10, 2012

      I thought it was a great piece as well, however I genuinely don’t believe the 3 year rule applies to Barcelona. Most “3 year” teams he mentions (or that I can think of) didn’t have an assembly line of ridiculous talent coming up through the youth system. Their 3 year end also sort of coincided with their star players being past it in several cases. If you don’t have players of the same calibre to replace them you’re bound to fall off to some extent.

      Barcelona will continue to be strong. Even if they win ZERO trophies this year it means nothing. Wait and see how many more they win over the next 5 because I believe the current group, even with the ones who will retire in a couple, mixed with the talent coming up, will continue to dominate. Pep must be here for it though. He is key.

      • ooga aga
        January 10, 2012

        well mr wilson has certainly considered the question with more of a critical eye, by viewing things thru the long-term, historical lens, more than we fanboys usually do. mani, you cant guarantee anything, and just as you say “Wait and see” — this is exactly what mr wilson says. he doesnt rule it out — he’s just waiting a bit longer to put the team on that pedestal.

        excellent piece.

        still, for me, all these are just words. im thankful for all the joy that this barca’s ART has given me. i dont expect or demand any more than what they have already done. lets just enjoy it as much as theyll give it.

        the malaga game didnt bother me at all.

        • ooga aga
          January 10, 2012

          doy, i meant espanyol. damn white n blue teams.

        • January 10, 2012

          By “wait and see” I did mean it in the sense that we should not judge this team based on Liga/CL success in this season. Win or lose, we should look at how the team performs, say, for the next 5 years. I was just offering my personal belief that they will win plenty in that time period.

          And you are absolutely right. Win or lose, we should continue to enjoy their art for as long as it shall continue. May they never stop.

  12. blitzen
    January 10, 2012

    And a few more thoughts on the gala:

    –I liked Messi’s jacket and I thought he looked great in it!
    –not a fan of Shakira, but she looked smoking!
    –I can understand someone voting for Ronaldo, Xavi, or even Rooney over Messi, but how could some of these people not even include Messi in their top 3? I mean, SERIOUSLY???
    –John Terry voted for Xavi in first place. I…hate him just a tiny bit less now.
    –the people who voted for Diego Forlan must not have watched any football last year. He had a terrible season! Just proving once again that this vote is really a popularity contest. I mean, I’m thrilled Leo has won three in a row, but…is it really that important of a trophy when all is said and done?
    –cue the “But Messi hasn’t won a World Cup” brigade.

    • Helge
      January 10, 2012

      hehe, someone complained about the dress of Shakira.

      But I have to say her dress and her looks in general would have blown me away. Piqué is a lucky boy 🙂

    • January 10, 2012

      I wouldn’t say Forlan had a terrible season. Lots of people only watch International tournaments and Forlan was deadly as always for Uruguay in the Copa. Two goals in the final to boot. His club season has been poor though.

      He just turns into a different kind of monster for his national team. Was a handful in South Africa and continued so for the Copa.

      • Ryan
        January 10, 2012

        Hmmm, Forlan really only showed up for the last few matches. If only Teves had not messed up his pk and Argentina progressed… 🙁

        • January 10, 2012

          The last few matches of international tournaments are where legends are made. Okay maybe I have a soft spot for Forlan. HE IS A LION I TELLS YA A DAMN LION!

        • Ryan
          January 10, 2012

          Fair enough, but that Uruguay team is pretty solid all around. Definitely deserved winners!

          • blitzen
            January 10, 2012

            I would say instead that all the other teams were deserved losers. Worst tournament I have ever seen. 😛

          • Ryan
            January 10, 2012

            Come on, who didn’t love Brazil’s pk shootout? 😀

  13. January 10, 2012

    – I just realized that Messi DIDN’T wear a Bowtie!!!

    -Not a fan of Shakira, but she looked pretty decent yesterday, IMO.

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 10, 2012

      Big fan of Shakira.
      One of my favorite songs: Rabiosa
      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5jduAtpClk

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 10, 2012

      She is quite the dancer. Here is the right video of Rabiosa
      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5irTX82olg&ob=av3e

    • mom4
      January 10, 2012

      Hmmmmmmm…possible pilgrimage north depending on ticket prices.

  14. Miguel
    January 10, 2012

    Mallorca! Holy shit.

    They’re tied on aggregate. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the game would go into overtime if it were to stay like this.

    Scratch that. Another Mallorca goal. Holy shit.

    • January 10, 2012

      Hahah saw that the other day. Ironic indeed but nonetheless a witty banner.

  15. blitzen
    January 10, 2012

    In the wake of the Scholes & Henry returns to their previous clubs, the Guardian is running a column on “Which former player would you bring back to your club?”. Theirs is for EPL clubs only, but if you had your pick, who would you bring back to Barcelona? Limited to players who are alive and have at least a decent shot of getting match-fit and contributing to the team (so no Cruyff, Maradona, or Koeman). Having seen (real) Ronaldo yesterday, I think he’s probably out too. 😛

    So who is it going to be? Dinho? Eto’o? Deco? Oleguer? This is only a fantasy, so you can even pick Ibra if you want!

    Personally I would love to see Lucho suit up again—he is only 41 and in fantastic shape. He surfs, runs marathons, and cycles at a competitive level. He was such a versatile player, he could fill in for any position the team needed except for GK or CB.

    • January 10, 2012

      I don’t care if he weighs as much as my house! I want Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima back. He is THE reason I fell in love with football and barca all at the same time. Maybe he’ll eat all the extra grass EE decides to grow at the Bernaboo so we can play our tiki-taka.

      Seriously though? Eto’o. We could really use him these days. A cold blooded goal scorer who doesn’t take anyones crap.

  16. Ryan
    January 10, 2012

    The Malaga-EE game is pretty well balanced so far. Malaga just need a 1-0 scoreline to advance, and Kaka is looking pretty horrible out there.

  17. ooga aga
    January 10, 2012

    coentrao just went all thug style on toulalan

  18. Ryan
    January 10, 2012

    Wow, I didn’t know Robert Green was playing as Malaga’s keeper!

  19. BarcaGirl_Indo
    January 10, 2012

    so except Osasuna can get a manita against us, it’ll be another 2 clasicos. fun. :roll:

    Kxevin not a fan of copa del reig, well, I’m not either. but if we can beat EE, there’s a really good chance to win the trophy.

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