News and Notes: November 12, 2009

In MemoriamFirst, a bit of sadness: as has been noted before in the comments as well as in the newspapers, former Barça keeper Robert Enke died on Tuesday before our match with Cultural, leading to a moment of silence. Enke was a keeper, born in Jena, Germany in 1977. He played very sparingly for Barça during his time with team, only make 4 total appearances, none of which were very successful (in fact, he played in a Copa del Rey match that ended with Barça losing to Novelda CF of the Segunda B and Enke being blamed for the loss by many). He went on loan to Fenerbahçe and Tenerife, but despite some success there, he was not recalled to FCB and he moved to Hannover, where he was still playing at the time of his death.

From what I understand, he committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a train after battling with depression for many years as well as the loss of his two-year old daughter to heart complications. Tragedies such as these remind us that sporting success is fleeting compared to the value of a human life and that despite their superhuman endeavors in the athletic sphere, the people we watch on a daily basis are as human as we are and face many of the same issues and troubles that the wider population faces. They are not perfect and it would do us all a bit of good to remember that once in a while and to try and understand the various pressures we put on professional athletes that we’ve never met and will never understand.

You can check out a brief biography of Enke as a Barça player over on webdelcule.And now, moving on…

-The draw for the World Cup of Club Championships Club of Worlds….er…FIFA Club World Cup is out. You can check out the whole thing here or you can read the next sentence. Barça gets a bye to the semifinals of the tournament and faces the winner of quarterfinal match between Atlante (Mex) and the first round match between Auckland City (NZ) and hosts Al-Ahli (UAE). Basically, we have no idea who we’re playing. The other quarterfinal match is between TP Mazembe (DR Congo) and Pohang Steelers (S.Kor); the winner moves on to face Estudiantes (Arg) in the semis. It will likely be Atlante vs Barça on one side, but I’m hoping that TP Mazembe will make an extraordinary run to the final and, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind if they won despite that meaning Barça wouldn’t. The reason is fairly simple: as a child I lived in what was then Zaire and I’d love to see the country have something to cheer about; TP Mazembe is from Lubumbashi, a diamond-rich and heavily exploited region at the very southern tip of the country, a land of blood diamonds, corporate greed, and general gross negligence by both the Congolese government and the multinational corporations that are given rights (aka buy/steal/hire mercenaries to kill in order to “earn” rights) to operate in the area. So yeah, I’m okay with them coming up trumps in an international club competition, even if I’ll be rooting against them if they play Barça in the finals. Their main man is Tresor Mputu, a Congolese international striker who is the captain and apparently a pretty damned good player. I hope they crush some fools.

The dates for Barça’s matches are December 16 and December 19, so there’s not much turnaround time there but at least we have a maximum of 2 matches in the tournament. We will, however, be playing a friendly against Kuwaiti team Kazma Sporting Club on December 21 in a move that will reportedly net us 2.5million euros. Before the tournament we have a home match against Espanyol on December 13, but we don’t return to league action until January 3 when we host Villarreal.

Oh, international break, you make my heart palpitate out something awful. It’s just rumor after rumor because there’s nothing else to talk about, I suppose. But okay, fine, you want rumors? Here’s a hasty recap.

-The worst on the street is that Gai Assulin is headed to Arsenal like Cesc and Fran Merida before him. He hasn’t renewed his contract with FCB yet, so now The Sun is being quoted by Sport and as saying that Arsenal are tracking the youngster. And while’s Lucas Brown does try to temper the thought with something akin to serious analysis, I think it bears going back to the original Sun article:

Arsenal are keeping tabs on Barcelona’s speedy winger Gai Assulin.

The 18-year-old, who made his Israel debut at 16, snubbed a move to Chelsea in 2007, but has stalled over signing the new deal on offer to him at the Nou Camp.

Now, that’s not a snippet of the article, people, that’s the entire thing. I kid you not. Make of it what you will, but it’s obviously just poppycock and bollocks and other British words I don’t know how to use properly because I’m not British. Or English. Or whatever. I’m just saying that if you see an article out there saying “according to so-and-so” go ahead and look up that so-and-so and see what that original report is before giving it any credence because during an international break, it’s going to be bullshwag 99% of the time. Oh and props to Lucas Brown for using “Camp Nou” instead of “Nou Camp”–finally someone gets it right, eh?

Crynaldo hopes he’ll be fit to play against us on November 29 and I say bring it. Let them play their best lineup and let’s beat it. I’m also hoping that the match will be on Sunday, November 29 and not rescheduled for Saturday, November 28 because I’ll be at my folks’ for Thanksgiving:

Laporta says that RM losing in the Copa after such massive investments only shows how valuable Barça’s treble-winning season was. Ya think? And apparently he’s not sure if he’s going to enter into politics outright after leaving the FCB presidency next year. Sure, sure, you have no idea what your next move is. None whatsoever. And I’m Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer…

Have at it in the comments, folks. There’s rumors aplenty out there that I didn’t cover (Gourcuff to Barça? More on the Robinho stuff?).

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


    1. I’m actually planning on doing a full write up about it tomorrow. Obviously I’m a Nate Silver fan (if you didn’t know that, you should think about it and then go “duh!”) so I read it this morning and enjoyed it, though I have a perspective on it that some may not be expecting. That’s for tomorrow, though.

  1. I used to be a soccer player, and when my father asked to choose between education and sport I gave up sport. I went to college to study. That part of my life was very difficult – making that choice and I took up education in a big part due to the pressure my dad and mom put on me to get a good education. I believe there is immense pressure that young kids have when they decide to become professional athletes.
    It does not surprise me that somebody decided to commit suicide, especially after a tragic incident such as death of daughter compounding the situation.
    That was my rant. Peace.

  2. I love how every time I read a ‘robinho’ article, it always begins with:

    “Today is a decisive day in the Robinho transfer”

    Literally, I’ve read at least 5 articles on different days saying the same thing, almost getting as bad as the Villa rumor stuff this past summer.

  3. Completely off topic, but I have a quick question for Kxevin:

    Why did you not recommend going to the AVSforum to Tutomate? Just wondering.

    1. Unfettered opinion and snark, backed by precious little in the way of objective truth. And video is objective. So when a review says “X TV is better than Y and we measured it to be so,” the fans of Y TV say “Well humph, their’s wasn’t calibrated like mine was. What a stupid review.” And what should be a place of information freely shared among peers becomes a penile pecking order that serves only to confuse. Too silly for my blood.

    2. I guess you’re referring to video related questions. I have found that forum extremely useful for audio questions and whatnot. I totally agree with you though about “unfettered opinion and snark.”

    3. Audio is much easier, frankly, speaking as an ex-trained evaluator. Footy performance is really much more difficult to parse. Midrange and coloration are one thing, but how do you adequately evaluate a player’s movement and its effect on a goal, even when he didn’t touch the ball?

      To return this to matters football, we have a number of players who can influence by movement in that way. That, for me, is one of the biggest challenges of my wildly subjective match ratings for players. Keita makes a run across the box, and the defense watches, but doesn’t really freak out. Messi or Ibrahimovic make that same move, and suddenly someone else has shooting space.

      It even goes as deep as evaluating players during the looming silly season, which has apparently started early. 😀

  4. Wow, two great articles, Isaiah. I’m truely impressed by the poetry and touched by the part about Robert Enke. May his soul find peace.

    A friendly against Kazma Sporting Club from Kuwait? Wtf! Imagine someone gets injured in that match, then I’ll have to buy a ticket and go to Kuwait to kick their ass…
    Now seriously, 2.5m € is fine, but what’s the sense behind it? I’ve read we are obliged to make another three (or two) friendlies against equally strong sides during a not so long period. That’s senseless and it will get me REALLY mad if there’ll ever result an injury from. Pre-Season tournaments or friendlies, even international friendlies might have some sense, but this is simply ridiculous…

  5. Barca mooting for Diego Perotti from Sevilla… Sources close to Barca claim the young Argentine is willing to play week-in week-out with Lionel Messi to confirm his place in World Cup squad. He agreed for 2mill/year contract and would be willing to sign on a 4year contract. The only stumble block seems to be the Sevilla manager, who thinks that losing Madrid-bound Adriano & Barca-bound Perotti would make the squad relatively weak and wouldn’t want to do any such thing to spoil their tremendous start both in the League & Cl. Txiki & Pep apparently are very keen on signing the player because he’s already been a success in the league and wouldn’t face any problem adjusting to their LW position where Henry had been such a huge success for them. With the Sevilla president keen to cash in on the player Barca are even planning to bring back on-loan Keirrison to include in a swap deal. Apparently Keirrison+5million in cash could make the Sevilla president agree for the transfer

    Pep Guardiola is keeping tabs on Lazio’s Mauro Zárate according to a report. Though Guardiola has set his sights firm on Perotti, who also is from Argentina, he seems to be ready to swoop for Zarate if his plans to bring in Perotti won’t materialize. Since Perotti is cup-tied Guardiola is even considering if he could sign both the Argentinians. The lack of back-up option for Ibra is forcing him to consider signing both the young prodigies. Zarate can play on the left flank as well as the target striker. Zarate, who is very unsatisfied with the lack of quality mid fielders at Lazio, is keen to move to the Spanish giants to improve his chances of impressing Diego Maradona & win his ticket to South Africa for the World Cup. Lazio manager is willing to cash in on the young striker so that he could make up for the lack of funds and bring in suitable players to improve the squad. Lazio president however, being a huge fan of Zarate is not willing to lose the kid, and is demanding a huge amount of 25mill. Zarate signed a 5 year contract only in the last summer and his buy-out clause is 60mill.

    Txiki Begiristain, the sporting director of FC Barcelona, talked about his plans in an exclusive interview with the Pep Guardiola, the all-winning talismatic Catalan manager is very keen to improve the depth of the squad in the coming winter transfer window. He is planning to bid for Diego Perotti & Mauro Zarate in January. He also is keeping tabs on Luis Suarez valued to be around 30mill by Ajax & Robinho(38mill) confirmed Txiki. Guardiola wants to sign a mid fielder to keep up with the absence of Yaya Toure & Seidou Keita who will be on international duty during African Cup of Nations scheduled in January, 2010. They have already contacted Sao Paulo for Hernanes who are demanding 15mill for the young Brazilian. Hernanes who doesn’t want to miss his chances in the Brazil squad for the World Cup is not willing to snub the Catalan giants this time. Barca approached Sao paulo twice already and had to back down because of the exorbitant price they have demanded for the promising mid fielder. But with the player’s drop in form last season & his increasing pressure they want to cash in on the player this time. The deal apparently could be done at around 12mill. Asked about the talks Hernanes expressed his happiness to be able to play for the prestigious Barcelona who by winning Copa Del Ray, La Liga & Cl became the first Spanish team to win a treble last season. Txiki also confirmed about their interest in Benfica’s David Luiz & Rubin Kazan’s Cristian Ansaldi but said that they would consider entering into talks for them with their clubs only after finalizing the deals of a LW & MF

    1. Oh! Forgot!! Add Simon Kjær, Filipe Luis, Marek Hamšík, Yoann Gourcuff, Jérémy Menez, Gojko Kačar, Daniele De Rossi & Lee Cattermole to the rumor mill

    2. With International Break loomed on us I figured I myself could generate some rumors and get away with it 😀

    3. I know 😛
      What about my request to write a poem on Messi’s goal against Getafe? Please do that…

  6. the friendly is dumb because we will have just travelled thousands of miles for the world club championships. send the B team to kuwait.

  7. i think you will all enjoy this. this link from the official site has a list of all the games that our players will be playing during the “paron de liga” the next 10 days.

    the part i like is that chygnastys name is listed twice, and spelled in two different ways: the real spelling and also the “catalan” version.


    1. yeah the otherday they spelled chygrntzyztznztcy “Chagrined”

      the official site must hate him for his name

  8. oops, i didnt realize where th WCC was this year. it makes more sense now taht we would play a friendly in kuwait. still i bet we see lots of B teamers with some cameos from the big boys.

    1. Actually yeah! Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, Puyol, Yaya & Zlatan all will be in Zurich that time to attend the WPOTY gala… So indeed it’s gonna be all ‘B’s Busi is gonna be the play-maker SWEET 🙂

  9. “In the last ten or fifteen years they have been best team in football in my opinion. It is great that they confirmed this with victory in the Champions League. All players on this team should feel a tremendous joy of playing football together. It is the best team right now,” he said, according to El Mundo Deportivo.

    “I’m still far from being able to join Barcelona, especially with their current midfield. But in the approach to the style of play, I’m pretty close.”

    “The truth is that gives me great pleasure to see players like Xavi, who are in constant motion, giving, offering … That’s exactly what I like about football.”

    – yoann gourcuff

    i think i will die if he and his eyelashes come to our club

    1. i’d love to buy Gourcuff over this break. he’s going to be an absolutely class player; already is, really, at 22. he and Iniesta would work so well with one another.

  10. Florentino prepares another revolution

    The president wants to sack 8 players and sign up 6 in a new galactic investment

    Rebellion in the white house, the swad demand solutions to Pellegrini, and fast.

    Guti stands by what is told about him and claims clubbing

  11. News from the EE:
    CR will be back for the match against Racing one week before el Clasico. Valdano demands no more rotation from Pellegrini for the matches against Racing, Zurich and us.
    So if that’s true, we’ll know their line-up one week before the game is played. And you can possibly start preserving your voice for el Clasico to boo CR, Kxevin 😉

    On the other hand, this news is taken from, so…

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