Stories Mothers Tell Their Children

Wait … we’re not going to talk about it? An interesting link here, a provocative comment there … and then we’re not even going to talk about it?

Don’t pretend that you don’t know about what we’re not going to talk about! Doth not (dothn’t?) protest too much, that you donth’t want to talk about what we’re not going to talk about. Don’t be all separatist about your footy and your poli-sci.

Demur, if you must, because it’s dull. Because The Economist is nowhere near as sexy, or, as the Spaniards say, as sexy (or, as the Catalans say, as sexy), as The Enquirer.  In that case, scroll on.

But it’s all over the news. It’s all about Barcelona. And far be it from a football blog as interesting, as provocative, an as all-out dull as BarcelonaFootballBlog to not talk about what everyone is talking about Barcelona.

I mean, everybody knows that Spain is going to miss its 6% national deficit reduction benchmark, even though President Mariano Rajoy has spent the past two years slicing bloated bottom lines faster than Princess Leticia slashes ceremonial ribbons. Unemployment hovers at 25% in the general population and almost 50% among young people, and when young people don’t have enough to do, you know what happens – someone sends a tweet and before you know it the Plaza Mayor is wall-to-wall with Indian-print tents, makeshift first-aid stands, and aging socialists reminding everyone to show up for the general strike on Tuesday.

Whose fault is it, then? Let’s point fingers so fast Angela doesn’t notice which digit Spain is flashing directly at the EU.  Is it Andalusia, where no one really seems to know what happened to all those euros in the public trust (hint: check Isabel Pantoja’s recycling bin). Or Valencia, where it’s not what Camps knows, or even who knows Camps, but who hems Camps’ suit. Castile-La Mancha is in the financial relegation zone right now, keeping Extremadura company. And in May this year, Moody’s downgraded to “junk” status bonds from Murcia … and Catalonia.

That’s right, folks. Catalonia is in need of some cold, hard little coins that all look the same to me. Artur Mas and the CiU (who govern with the support of PSOE and the PP and a bowlful of alphabet noodles) failed to make all of the cuts they’d promised, and sell all of the bonds they’d offered, and found themselves in the soup. On September 10, Mas met Rajoy in hopes of re-arranging their tax arrangement: instead of Madrid collecting provincial taxes as due and then distributing them by need, Catalonia would collect its own taxes, divvy ‘em up and send Madrid a check in next week’s post. Rajoy, who is busy insisting he is not following Greece and Ireland even as he edges into the European soup line himself, gave a response that can perhaps best be summed up in two words: “Tu tía” (or, in Catalan, la teva tieta).

Well, 70% of Catalonians didn’t take kindly to Rajoy dissing their aunt. They suspect that Madrid vacuums up a good 8% of their GDP as it is. Artur, meanwhile, was faced with the question of how to save his own square-jawed face. And next thing you know, 8 million Catalans are waving ketchup-and-mustard flags in Las Ramblas (or maybe just more than usual), and King Juan Carlos climbs down from his Botswanian elephant to wag his finger at “chimera-chasers”.  Come November, Mas promises an election that is more like a referendum to decide if Catalonia ought to be more like, well, Scotland. Or perhaps Quebec. Or (and I’m not making this up) Puerto Rico. With the Baleares Islands and the entire province of Valencia thrown in as “Catalan Country”.

Now,  many outcomes are possible. But independence is the least possible among them. For one thing, Mas and Rajoy know that Spain’s economy will falter without Catalonia, but they also know that Catalonia, as is, will not survive without Spain. It would be devastating, all agree, to simply shut down the A-1, turn off the Spanish spigot and close up shop with the rest of the Peninsula. And if waiting in line with Galicia for tax revenue is a drag, what about queueing behind Kosovo for EU recognition?

But national tax policy won’t inflame the people’s passion. The promise of a shiny brass “Mas” nameplate at the next Brussels summit fails to draw families into the street. No one unfurls their senyera in hopes of one day, finally, restructuring the tariff system. It’s not about politics, or policies. It’s about a story. The kind of story that mothers tell their children.

It’s a beautiful story, too. It’s a story about a land whose roots were planted in a small outpost of the Roman Empire, which blossomed in the High Midde Ages to a flourishing kingdom fiefdom county (well, there’s some dispute about that, but the dispute itself lends a warm burnish of historicity to the tale), and still awaits its full-flower as an independent nation. It’s a story about a proud people with their own culture, their own heroes, and their own Latinate language with just as much legitimacy as French, Italian, even Romanian. It’s a story of suffering, of a people who refused to relinquish their land, their heritage, their language, even as those more powerful overran their cities, erased their histories and outlawed the very phonics of their speech in a devastating civil war and subsequent Fascist dictatorship from which even the young have yet to fully recover. But today, my son, today … there is hope. We have a kick-ass football team, and a Clàssic on Sunday.

The last line is not frivolous. As Sandro Rosell affirmed on September 22:

“Som un club català i catalanista, i sempre defensarem el dret dels pobles a decidir el seu futur. Som catalans i volem que ens acceptin tal com som”*

… right before reminding everyone that a new stadium comes with a big price tag, and isn’t it wonderful that little children all around the world save their pocket money for a Messi jersey?

Don’t get me wrong; I love this club. I love that story. The fact that it’s the same story told in Bilbao as in Barcelona, that the Galicians now harbor the same dream as the Geronese, that the elements that make the Catalan story so powerful make it also typically, achingly, ironically, Spanish. And it’s the story that so frustrates those of us who want més que un club to really, only be about tiki-taka, or for Kansans to pay the same in soci fees as Catalans. It’s also the same story I heard when I was a little girl, when I learned that Irishmen dance with their arms at their sides so as to fool British soldiers peering in the pub windows. Or that “famine” is spelled with a capital-F. Or what “Pass the hat” means. And I did. Until Omagh.

I bet you heard that story, too. And when real-honest-to-goodness-grown-up life seems to manifest that very story, either by an occupation on Wall Street or a referendum in November or a little grean leaf on, well, then we murmur the words that all mothers live (sorry) love to hear: “Mom, you were right.”

Now, no one – besides British reporters impersonating George Orwell – expects an Omagh in Catalonia come November. Even the Basques seem to have decided that the story is not worth violence (although it would appear that some mothers still end the story that way.) However the Catalans decide to structure their socio-economic system is, ultimately, is up to the Catalans. And, thank goodness, we’ve had no reports of Andrés tying Xavi’s cleats together at practice, or David pronouncing his coach’s name “Villanova” on purpose, or Pedro asking Sergio all the time “how the weather is up there.”

Because we have a kick-ass football team, and a Clàssic on Sunday. And there is hope.

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SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. ooga aga
    October 3, 2012

    thank you SoMa! excellent read AS USUAL.

  2. PM
    October 3, 2012

    Off topic question:
    Is there any chance of Pique coming back for classico?

    Song has done great so far in centre back. He will surely improve with more minutes. But, don’t you think playing CB in classico is too soon for him? It’s undeniable that he was partly to blame for both goals against Sevilla. The first goal doesn’t happen with Puyol or Pique. Rarely they get caught up so high in the pitch. The second one, I don’t know, but Song’s reaction to Negredo’s body feint doesn’t seem like one coming from a great CB. You would probably agree that an important critera for a great CB is how many mistakes he make in a crucial match. This is why, even after making numerous goal-saving tackles and saving our ass multiple times, Mascherano is, in my opinion, still behind both Pique and Puyol. With Puyol gone for 2 months, we desperately need Pique on Sunday. Otherwise, Ronaldo and an in-form Benzema will create huge problem for our back line. To make things worse, our midfield is not controlling the matches as they used to do. I hope Inistea’s presence will fix that.

    • Kimcelona
      October 3, 2012

      Pique hasnt been mentioned therefore we can assume he’s not ready and probably wont be ready till after Intl break.

      We’ll have to make do with Song and Masche.

      May God help us..

    • Blau-Grenade
      October 3, 2012

      I would like Bartra to start. I would have liked Tito to got him ready earlier. But he needs to be bloodied sometime.

      • _Lily
        October 3, 2012

        Yeah, and look at how Montoya performed against Madrid when he was tossed into the deep end and told to figure out how to swim… maybe it wouldn’t be a terrible idea.

    • alpinegroove
      October 3, 2012

      This is what Tito said about this topic after the match yesterday:

      “We have always had problems with the central defenders. We tried to sign over the summer because we are always faced with having few troops. That requires you to retrain players…Mascherano played 14 consecutive games, and we couldn’t give him any rest. We hope to get Pique back, I wouldn’t say right now but for the Clasico. And if he is not ready for the Clasico, we hope that for later on. Additionally, we have Bartra, who will get minutes.”

      • alpinegroove
        October 3, 2012

        The problem with Song playing as a defender is not only his playing as a defender. That also makes him unavailable to give Busquets some time off, especially now that Thiago is out as well.
        I believe that Tito knew for a while now that Puyol was going to be ready for the Clasico, and he probably never meant for Song to start as a defender in that game.

        • Yup, you could clearly make that out from his reaction to Puyol’s injury. He gave one bloody look to the “Master in Heaven”.

  3. Jackieboy
    October 3, 2012

    Nice read, just a tiny correction: Rajoy is Spain’s Prime Minister, they are a constitutional monarchy and have a king instead of a president.

  4. SoccerMom
    October 3, 2012

    You are correct, Jackieboy, but in Spanish Rajoy’s title is “el presidente (del gobierno)”, so I refer to him as such; I make mention to Juan Carlos as well.

    • nzm
      October 4, 2012

      Rajoy has only been the chief for less than a year too, not 2 years. His tenure began in December 2011.

      For him to suddenly finding all the answers in a short space of time is akin to those who expected Obama to save the Universe in his first month.

      But there are no answers, save for the only real one which was to cut loose the investment banks and let them die, and that opportunity has long gone. The US could have shown the way with that avenue, but Lehmans became the scapegoat because Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are too heavily infiltrated into Washington. The implications of allowing them to go down would have blown the lid off Washington’s funding and just how many ex-GS and MS staff now have advisory and consultancy positions in high places all around the world.

      For sure there would have been repercussions in allowing the investment banks to go down, but whole countries wouldn’t have gone into debt so high that there are not enough billions that can be thrown at them that will come anywhere near to reducing it in our lifetimes, nor at least the next generation.

      Catalunya, when compared to other regions within Spain, is relatively solid. It’s why Madrid will not let them go. It’s why Catalunya wants more control over how its monies are allocated.

      45% of the Spanish taxes (approx. 15 billion of the total approx. 35 billion) collected in Catalunya are spent elsewhere – that’s 8% of the region’s GDP. The region’s debt is 4 billion per annum or 20% of GDP. Those are healthy figures and a lot of countries would love figures like this.

      Economically, Catalunya is well-balanced with what it produces – with roughly a third being used regionally, a third going to the rest of Spain and a third being exported to other parts of the world.

      If you talk to the older and the more educated Catalan people – those who have businesses or a high degree of knowledge of these figures and how Catalunya could be doing better, then this is the driving force for them to become more independent (or, at least, more autonomous) from Madrid. That 15 billion which goes elsewhere could greatly benefit the region if it could be kept in Catalunya.

      They want more transparency – sound familiar?

      Of course, this talk of figures is not attractive enough to galavanise a huge percentage of the population – especially those who have no jobs or no perception/understanding of economics, so the way in which to do this is to wrap it all in pretty senyera ribbons and promote it as an independence movement.

      There is still also a large percentage of the population who did live in Catalunya under Franco. They don’t forget – they saw what happened – they remember how speaking Catala was forbidden and repressed – a lot of them lost family members and friends. All of this was done under the same flag which flies above them today.

      Interesting times. My only hope is that the military stays out of it. We already saw the military break up the air traffic controllers’ strike a couple of years ago, and although it didn’t come to a physical showdown in that instance, the implications of general strikes (which would involve a whole lot more of the population) could force them to become more belligerent in their counter measures.

      • nzm
        October 4, 2012

        Damn – typing on my iPod connected to a shonky German internet connection leaves little room for effective proof-reading. 🙁

  5. October 3, 2012

    I got nothin’ but love for this post, and SoccerMom. For reals. As much as everyone would like for FCB to just be FCB and hang out and win titles and stuff, it just ain’t gonna happen. Too many things are conspiring to make it impossible, just as the club has morphed from Mes Que Un Club to un club to mes que un club? before events slide it right back to Mes Que Un Club.

    FCB is a Catalan institution. No way ’round that. And now that Catalan politics/independence (pipe dream though it is) is part of that dance, everything is kinda up in the air for many cules. There will be more about that in this space, simply because there has to be.

  6. October 3, 2012

    Once again SoMa brings a dose of reality, smarts, and humour to the discussion. This is the kind of post that makes this mes que un blog. We in the cule diaspora sometimes forget that Barça, and Spanish football in general, cannot be separated from their cultural and political backgrounds, even as the clubs’ marketing teams try to sell them to international fans. It’s complicated.

  7. October 3, 2012

    Getting the references SoMa made in this post one by one makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside 🙂

    as interesting, as provocative, an as all-out dull as BarcelonaFootballBlog

    SoMa FTW wins!

  8. K_legit in Oz
    October 3, 2012

    ‘Rajoy, who is busy insisting he is not following Greece and Ireland even as he edges into the European soup line himself, gave a response that can perhaps best be summed up in two words: “Tu tía” (or, in Catalan, la teva tieta).”


  9. It’s utterly idiotic to ask for independence now. The story is old and irrelevant now and looking at it objectively, it would be a lose-lose scenario for everyone. More autonomy is more practical and if the story is so loved then perhaps justice for those wronged by the fascist regime and punishment for their supporters.

    • nzm
      October 4, 2012

      More autonomy is what is actually being requested, and was the proposal the proposal that Mas has put to Rajoy. It’s similar to what the Basques already have.

      If it’s not accepted, then independence is seen as the only way in which Catalunya can control its finances.

      • October 4, 2012

        As nzm notes, full independence is something that only the most radical want, as it brings a host of complexities, not least of which is where the hell are the boundaries of Catalunya? France would probably take issue with Perpignan being included, and all.

        But politicians are never averse to using a broader, less well thought out groundswell to make gains that they actually desire.

        For the players who are Catalan, however, such a thing would be fascinating, as you would potentially have Xavi facing off against Iniesta in FIFA competition, Pedro trying to score against Puyol. Craziness! A FIFA XI:

        Valdes, Montoya, Pique, PuyolFontas, Alba (born in L’Hospitalet), Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Cuenca, Krkic, Sergio Garcia. Guardiola or Cruijff come on as coach, to boot?

        Not a bad lineup.

  10. Xingxian
    October 3, 2012

    Absolutely brilliant. Thank you for writing this, thank you for sharing it with us and the world.

    • K_legit in Oz
      October 4, 2012

      Came here to post exactly that! Must read..Xavi gives the best interviews!

    • AJ_10
      October 4, 2012

      Thank you sunraizes. Amazing.

      “I saw Ajax play when I was a kid and I appreciated it,” Hudson continues. “And I saw the AC Milan with [Arrigo] Sacchi, the great Liverpool side, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, these phenomenal teams. But [Barcelona] is supernatural. I could talk until the moon turns to cheese about them, and I’d never stop. This is amoeba football. And it’s an open secret: Everybody knows how they’re going to play. This is part of the beguiling beauty. Everybody knows! They don’t change! And nobody can figure it the f— out! They cannot stop them!”

      Great stuff!

  11. October 4, 2012

    –Vilanova will decide on Saturday if Pique can play on Sunday. (In my opinion if you have to hold it until that long, he probably shouldn’t play. This is just one match, unless losing a Clasic means 8 points in the standings, instead of 3, like any other match.)

    –Someone should by the press some Legos, or a new PlayStation or something, to keep stories such as “Will Barca sell Fabregas in January,” or “Tottenham/Zenit/Etc. to make ambitious swoop for Busquets.” Shit’s just funny.

    –Puyol, upon hearing that his elbow was dislocated, asked Juanjo Brau “Does this mean I can’t play on Sunday?” Like a boss. Wonder if Brau sent an emissary to break the news to him?

    –#classicFCB will be used in official Tweets from the club regarding Sunday’s match, for you folks in the Twitterverse who want to throw something out there, then feel all official and whatnot.

    –The club will be changing the grass on its two practice pitches due to a fungi plague. Up to you all to decide whether that’s on the grass or the players. Those long socks can cover up a lot, you know.

    –Former NBA great Earvin “Magic” Johnson will be attending Sunday’s match. How’s THAT for some “say what now?” news from the club? My personal view is when Johnson pops up, it’s a sign of something or other ….

    SoMa’s piece is even more of a delight on the second day. Between her and nzm, BFB is very lucky. Both provide unmatchable perspectives on a dynamic, and potentially explosive situation.

    • October 4, 2012

      That is hysterical. Thanks for the link. Note that for those who need the English subtitles, they might not start automatically, but if you click the “CC” button, there they will be.

    • Messiah10
      October 4, 2012

      Nice. I love the Copa Catalunya comment!

  12. October 4, 2012

    And for you F1 heads in the house, Michael Schumacher announced his retirement today, an announcement that should have stuck the first time. “We did not achieve our goals at Mercedes,” the 7-time world champion said. Duh. Serves them right for not picking a more talented driver to pair with Schumacher. Rosberg was never going to be anything other than what he was, and is: a famous son with a fair bit of talent, but not enough to make a real difference.

    • barca96
      October 4, 2012

      I never like comebacks in the first place. Same applies to Pep coming back to coach Barca. Not looking forward to that. It can never exceed the 1st time. Armstrong is another case. The only exception is Jordan’s first comeback.

      • Messiah10
        October 4, 2012

        What about George Foreman? He won the Heavyweight Title at 45!

  13. Gogah
    October 4, 2012

    A double pivote of Song and Busi might be worth considering for the clasic.

    • October 4, 2012

      Somebody on Twitter just mentioned the possibility of a double pivot, as well. Truth to tell, it never crossed my mind, but ….

    • Bill
      October 4, 2012

      I talked about this in my comments on the Sevilla match. We are letting in goals a little too easily. Song and Busquets in a double pivot like Spanish NT could fix some of those leaks. The problem though is Bartra hasn’t played much, and this is not the game to introduce him in.

      Maybe push Alves to partner Mascherano at the back, introduce Montoya/Adriano at left back then play Song and Busquets in DM?

      • Here is a thought. Spain struggled against team who sat deep and defended. Spain’s advantage was that they were mostly playing knock-out stage and hence the opponent had to try to win the match at some stage. Not with Barca everyone will sit deep and the extra man playing the pivot will look an unwanted luxury in most of the matches.

    • lea_terzi
      October 4, 2012

      Double pivot has been talked about ever since the Euro finals, where it finally worked for Del Bosque’s Spain. Apart from shielding the CBs, it would also help free our wingbacks. If only we had someone, anyone, to play at the back. Better Bartra then Alves, I say 🙂
      Another option is playing Busi at CB and Song at DM, but Tito won’t do that because Busquets is essential to ball retention and circulation in midfield.
      Other ideas?

      • alpinegroove
        October 4, 2012

        How about Cesc and Busquets as part of the double pivot?
        Iniesta on the left, cutting inside, with Alba reinforcing the wing.


        Alves, Song, Mascherano, Alba

        Cesc Busquets

        Pedro Messi

        • alpinegroove
          October 4, 2012

          The formatting got messed up, but you get the idea…

          • won’t work as using Cesc along with Busquets will leave Busq exposed. If a double pivot has to be used that has to be with Xavi not Cesc. He don’t have the defensive control and this match requires that especially with a center defense which is absolutely make shift.

          • lea_terzi
            October 5, 2012

            Yeah, they say Cesc can play all midfield positions, but he’s never looked at home in tactically strict positions further back. Free role in attacking midfield / forward line is where he thrives.

          • lea_terzi
            October 5, 2012

            Thiago would be a better option, but he’s out 🙁
            JDS? Yeah, he’s still here 😛

  14. barca96
    October 4, 2012

    Now only does Ronaldo scores hattrick in CL like Messi but he also dinks like Messi. But it’s not just Ronaldo, I’ve noticed a trend this season. Many players now score with dinks. Bundesliga, La Liga even EPL!

  15. ursus arctos
    October 4, 2012

    This is a seriously good post.


  16. HisR0yalFlyness
    October 4, 2012

    Can anyone recommend a good place to look at the game in downtown Miami? I’ll be there over the weekend and wouldn’t mind taking in the game with some fellow fans.

  17. simple_barcafan
    October 4, 2012

    Convoluted history, checkered past…
    Contemplative present, tomorrow’s past…

    • nia
      October 4, 2012

      You beat me to it ;)I was just about to post that, ha ha, great blaugrana minds think alike.

    • October 4, 2012

      Thanks for sharing. Though, it’s a well written piece, I don’t like the story at all. It seems too fictional and dramatic; almost feel like the author has a narrative set before going on his research journey to Rosario. It doesn’t seem real or organic especially after reading Messi’s interview for El Pais the other day. I learn more of Messi from that interview because it’s in his own words; no flowery language to make me want to vomit.

      I appreciate the point the writer is trying to make about Messi’s childlike enthusiasm for the game and his quest to hold onto his childhood memories. But this narrative was probably more fitting two years ago; now, not so much. Messi has grown up. He may still play with a childlike enthusiasm, has a small circle of friends, go to his homeland often etc… but these things are not unique; many famous footballers and people do that too. Something about this piece just seems too static and doesn’t evolve with Messi of the present. Or maybe I’ve read way too many articles about Messi with the same narrative :/

      • October 4, 2012

        Yeah, the writer kinda got in the way a lotta bit. As an editor, I hate that. The nucleus of an extraordinary piece is in there, particularly the parts about how in his home town, Messi isn’t any more well known than he is to any of us. Brilliant touches such as that show the depth and quality of reporting. But writer insertion has long been a trend, and trend that I loathe.

        Still enjoyed reading it, I must say, even as I can’t separate my work from my life sometimes.

      • swamidigital
        October 5, 2012

        I agree with you about the piece, but take the audience into account as well. It was on the front page of, which means a bunch of people who barely know about “soccer” were going to be reading it.

        There were some fascinating tidbits, but you’re right the narrative it was meant to fit into was a bit hackneyed. I think he touches on the problem though, which is that it’s almost impossible to know Messi other than a caricature of a public figure. This is due to the times we live in, with such a quickly judgemental public and press it’s not in any athlete’s best interest to be totally candid and expose his or her real persona.

  18. October 4, 2012

    Interesting and fun post, SoMa. Thanks! This piece definitely compels me to write a thoughtful response to it, but I’m off to catch some sleep. I’ll post my thoughts tomorrow (maybe) 😀

  19. The defense for Clasico is fixed, there is no confusion. Confusion arises when we have so many choices, luckily in this case we don’t have any. So the defense should see Alves, Mascherano, Song and Alba. But the midfield is where the confusion starts. Cesc has been playing well in midfield in Iniesta’s role for the last couple of matches and also he is in a goal scoring roll. So Cesc needs to be in the line-up. But the problem is that he should not be played in the midfield in this match. Why? Cesc may have played well in Iniesta’s absent, but the moment Iniesta came in we saw the control he brings in to the midfield. Especially with a defense consisting of Song and Mascherano we may need Iniesta’s control to shield the defense. But then where should Cesc start. For me there is only one place – the false 9. I know Messi is the best in that role but Messi starting on the right should pin Marcelo back and that should reduce him linking with Ronaldo. Also tello has to start against Arbeloa on the left.

  20. Gogah
    October 5, 2012

    @kxevin, i think we were on to something in the last post, want to ask you again, you say that you’d not have puyol play any other way. Are you saying that you, and puyi himself, will not regret it one bit, if he does another stupid showcase of his enormous heart and work ethic in a completely needless situation that results in a career ending injury?

    • I am not sure about Kxevin, but guarantee you that Puyol wouldn’t. It’s quite strange isn’t it? I mean after the event occurred we knew that was a needless attempt. But could you say the same prior to that event. Puyol saw the ball and went in as he always did. No one is expecting that it could have such a negative effect.

    • swamidigital
      October 5, 2012

      You can always second guess these decisions. No one wants to see him get injured again and again. But then, this is the style of play that got him to where he is. What if he had second guessed it much earlier in his career? I doubt he would be the captain of one of the greatest sides in history. I think when Puyol feels he cannot play this way any longer, and his body cannot take it, he will retire rather than try and scale back his play. And I think that’s something everyone can respect.

      • Also let’s get some perspective also. These two incidents were quite a freakish injury which shows only his misfortune. But the positive factor is that he showed no signs of any injury concern or getting ole till these freakish events happened. My point is even a 25 year old also could get injured the same way. You land on your arm like that from that height, I don’t think your age counts for much.

    • Gogah
      October 5, 2012

      My question was a different point altogether – not born from retrospect and second guessing, but one for the future.
      The question only tries to explore if Puyol realises the importance of his sole presence on the pitch rather than refusing to rethink his aggressive, committed style of play at ALL times.

      • lea_terzi
        October 5, 2012

        And why is his presence so important? He is not a tactical genius or a technical ace (compared to some others on the team). He leads by example, through sheer and constant commitment, unwavering concentration, total dedication. How do you scale back on that?

        • October 5, 2012

          Exactly what lea_terzi says. Puyol is. No regrets. Ever. I guarantee you that when he returns, in his first match back he will go in just as hard. That’s how he is. His zeal isn’t “stupid.” It’s part of why he’s our Capita.

          You can say that about anyone, though. I bet you it’s more difficult for Messi NOT to track back, for another example. It’s what he knows.

        • Gogah
          October 5, 2012

          Don’t want to harp on about this subject…
          But, Del Bosque has actually just quoted these exact words – “Left Puyol a message, It’s a pity what happened. He’s a good guy and his sole presence is important for the team”

          Hmmm..wonder what he meant.

          you guys are constantly undermining what a legend just being around does in a less tangible way on the players. You can do a lot by doing less too. which is actually what experienced players become good at. You talk of unwavering concentration, total dedication – those things can include other things too. A higher understanding of what needs to be done – balancing responsibility and recklessness.

          you are generalizing it into a total kind of scaling back which is an absurd suggestion and is convenient to argue against.

          • lea_terzi
            October 5, 2012

            An insider view, then 😛
            Xavi: “Puyol’s injury is a real pity. You can’t ask a player to hold back. He’s an example on and off the pitch.”
            Is he being absurd, too?

          • October 5, 2012

            No, what we are saying is that the way Puyol plays is the way Puyol plays. He plays the same way for Spain. This can co-exist with his presence on the pitch being important. If you were to ask any of the players, they would probably all say that none of them want a half-speed, or 2/3 speed Puyol. He isn’t that kind of a player, nor does he have that kind of ability/talent.

            Messi can loaf, then turn it on. He has an otherworldly ability where that is allowed to happen. He is also in a less-crucial spot than Puyol, who has to be ON, all the time. If Messi fails, but Puyol succeeds, it’s still 0-0, right?

            Your insistence in making this an issue of Puyol’s lack of circumspection just isn’t going to fly for me. When they blow the whistle, it’s Go Time for Puyol. And he goes hard, as hard as he can, until the match ends or he gets subbed. Then he cheers and supports his teammates as hard as he can.

            You’ve misinterpreted Del Bosque’s message to support your contention, but let’s break it down:

            “Left Puyol a message” (That’s pretty clear.)
            “It’s a pity what happened.” (It’s a shame, bad luck, dude just came back from injury, and now this. Dang!)
            “He’s a good guy” (That’s also pretty clear.)
            “And his sole presence is important for the team.” (He is important to his team, when he is on the pitch.)

            It would take a lot of reading between the lines to find a suggestion that he thinks Puyol should take it easier, because it is more important to have him on the pitch, than giving the 1000% that he always gives.

            That’s going to be a tough argument, no matter how diligently you pursue it.

  21. October 5, 2012

    J.C. gave this interview to Scotland on Sunday

    Some interesting parts:

    On Chelsea’s European triumph: It’s good that the Chelsea system of last season is part of football but then there are too many people who like to copy the wrong things and the wrong thing is defending over attacking. To create is the most beautiful thing in the game. It’s artistic and so, yes, it’s good that Chelsea won but hopefully nobody will ever copy them because I wouldn’t like to see that style of football.

    On the current Barcelona: Pep has left now and he was wonderful. A lot of the things in the youth system in Barcelona are changing and I don’t think for the best. It always takes a few years before things come out. Why not for the best? There’s a few things in the knowledge of the game, in the knowledge of the physical preparation that have changed that I’m not so sure about. You have to be innovative all the time. Hmmmm…something is changing at La Masia?

    On the idea of playing for Barcelona: People need to play with their heart, people have to want to be there and be part of something and money is a nice thing but it’s not everything. Everybody could use the money but you don’t play for it, you play with your heart and that’s a big difference you see in Barcelona. Everybody wants to play there, everybody wants to enjoy themselves. It’s maybe a small percentage but maybe it’s the difference.

    Sometimes, I think Cruyff and Xavi have the same view of the game.

    Read more here:

    • October 5, 2012

      Without knowing exactly what is going on, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of Cruijff’s comments are simple snarking at RoSELL. Sant Johan can, after all, be mean and petty, like mere mortals.

      You can’t be innovative all of the time. At its core, La Masia teaches our future stars the fundamentals of the game, played in the Barca way.

  22. October 5, 2012

    It seems everyone at the club is giving out interview these days. Here’s Sandro Rosell, a.k.a. Kxevin’s favorite president, giving interview for SI 😛

    The part below is vague, annoying, contradicting and confusing :/

    On membership restrictions and identity:

    The Barcelona president has to maintain the values, the essence and the history of the club…because it’s so entrenched in the DNA of the Barça members — how we want the club to be, how we feel about it, where we want it to go… (What is this history or DNA he’s talking of – total Catalan-ism or a club founded by foreigners who wanted to impart sporting solidarity?)

    We realized we had acquired too many members…Each day we had more of them, and we were losing the connection with them because we had opened up the membership online. We were losing the DNA, because I want to see you, meet you. I want you here at the club. If you come here and show your face, perfect, but not just through the web. That’s getting off track. (Huh, what???)

    Barça’s motto is Més que un club (More than a club), and everyone you meet here really does see it that way. (Yeah, more than a club but not welcoming all members. BS!)

    It’s a club that’s owned by 180,000 people, a club that has always belonged to all of its members, that belongs to the Catalans, because we are seven million strong. It’s about the values we represent, not only competing in sports but also solidarity, camaraderie and Catalonian-ness, much more than just winning trophies. (I’m sure not all members are Catalan, Rosell! Stop lumping everything)

    As much as I like the club embracing its root, I hate how Rosell and the board approach this publicly. It gives out a mixed signal. Is the club suffering an identity crisis?

    • October 5, 2012

      RoSELL views FCB as a Catalan institution. This is what it has become. His election campaign made it clear that he viewed it that way. In that context, “mes que un club” refers to the club’s socio-political roots, the things that made it a Catalan institution, that generates the Senyera mosaic for El Clasic, and the rumored Senyera-based shirts next season.

      He is also trying to out-Catalan Laporta, and events are helping him out.

      I became a soci in person. It was important to me to do that, in that way. Now there is the Commitment Card, which must be renewed every year in person, and after three years, the person can become a soci. So technically, anyone can still become a soci. But it’s now a bit more difficult than signing on, ponying up your money and becoming a member.

      Does the struggle make it more valuable? Good question. But it certainly does demonstrate devotion. I would look at it as three opportunities to see the city, and take in a match. Voila.

  23. Bill
    October 5, 2012

    Gogah has it right on Puyol in my opinion. If you think Puyol is proud of the fact that he is not on the team because he did something pretty rash, then I think you underestimate Puyol’s intelligence and ability to think situations through in retrospect.

    The problem, in my opinion, is not that Puyol was being Puyol, it’s that Puyol was pretending to be Puyol when he wasn’t. Crazy statement? Here’s why. Most players, actually, ALL players are never the same right after an injury. Besides the normal tendency to unconsciously avoid stressing the injured part, the things you did before you can’t do them right away after a long layoff.

    Small things like how fast you can run, how well you can tackle, how high you can jump will not be at their optimum. But the biggest difference is the ability to slow down a game. This ability is what all great athletes have. Everything around you could look as if its happening very fast to other people, but to the athlete himself, he is able to think and respond much faster than the situation, in his mind, everything is in slow motion. Messi is great at this.

    In Puyol’s case, at his peak, he would have been able to see the ball, at the same time see the challenge. He would have been able to either make adjustments in his body position, or angle of attack. He would have been able to know how to place his arms on his way down and roll safely. When you haven’t played for a while, it happens too fast. You literally find yourself on the ground before you could even think. It happened to me in my playing days.

    All this small adjustments come naturally over time. An experienced player like Puyol should know it. He should be able to recognize when he needs to take a risk and when to wait until he is back to his best. He would have lost about 20 games this season when he comes back, for what? Because he couldn’t help himself? Because he wasn’t smart in his situational awareness?

    A rookie is expected to have only one speed because they don’t know better. Not a veteran like Puyol.

    • October 5, 2012

      But again, you can’t compare Puyol and Messi. Even at his best/prime, Puyol wasn’t as comparatively talented (in the role he plays) as Messi is.

      And it isn’t about circumspection. In cycling, I match sprint. Races come down to hundredths of a second, and split-second decisions. I knew it was time to step back from the national scene when during a race, I saw a hole that was (maybe) big enough to jam my handlebars in, and I thought about it. In that instant, I knew it was time to tone it back, and start Masters racing, rather than Elite. My friends saw it, and knew it, as well. In that moment, you don’t have It. Not any more.

      You confuse one speed with a way of playing, as I explain above. Tello has one speed. Puyol has a way of playing, and that way is all-out. Could he have estimated the effect that the contact with the Benfica player would have on him? Absolutely not. No way. You never can. With another cycle racing analogy, I have crashed in many ways, at many different speeds. No matter how you think the crash is going to play out in your mind, it never, ever does.

      Crashes come about because you are going for the win. Nobody has ever crashed going for second place. It’s a different kind of commitment. There is no introspection, or circumspection. There is just “GO!” And you do. When it works, you post up and smile. When it doesn’t, you bang the bars in frustration, or pick yourself up and head for the medics.

      That’s Puyol.

      • Bill
        October 5, 2012

        I want comparing Puyols talent with Messi’s. I was explaining players instincts to react to surroundings. It should be noted that Messi himself doesn’t have that control and phone both dribbling yet. It comes with time

        Crashing in a bike or any motorized object is way different than falling down in a game. It’s too fast and you are being thrown off objects. No reaction time. It’s a little slower in soccer. Not very slow, but slow enough to tuck your arms in or try to roll.

        And the gist of my piece was, why even go there when you are from an injury? Please note that if this injury had taken place in defense, or in a do or die tight game, I would cheer for him. Not where and when it happened.

        • October 5, 2012

          I’ll buy the situation thing. I just don’t believe that Puyol has a rheostat. Dude has a switch: On or Off. He wasn’t moving like himself earlier in the match, either.

          • October 5, 2012

            Let’s let Puyol have the last word on this (from his twitter):

            “Taking risks means provoking fear, but taking risks also means being more alive than ever…” (@Carles5puyol)

            (Translation stolen from @BarcaTheOffside.)

        • Gogah
          October 6, 2012

          great comment.
          the where, when and how it happened is exactly what ticks me off. hopefully he will know better when he comes back.

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