First, 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 Goal.com as saying that Arsenal are tracking the youngster. And while Goal.com’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?).