Barça 4, Espanyol 0, aka “So much more than a mere match”


Time is an amazing thing.

It rips at us, it nags us, it slips away from us, it’s one of the few things in life that you can, in no way shape or form, get more of. Time spawns regret, rueful “If onlys” that fuel nights of introspection, in which you waste more time worrying about the time you wasted. Time sneaks up on you.

I think of a wonderful song lyric by Bonnie Raitt, that goes Life gets mighty precious/When there’s less of it to waste. That’s time. They say that sometimes, you have to be older to appreciate things, that young people feel they have all the time in the world but when life puts some time on your bones, then you realize how pretty those roses smell.

I dunno. What I do know is this: I have never, ever seen a sporting entity do what this football club does.

I have watched the 6-time champion Chicago Bulls, I have watched the 1985 Super Bowl Chicago Bears. I have watched Patriots, and Celtics, and teams that shaped and redefined expectations. But there was a moment today, when the match was functionally over. It was 4-0, substitutions had been made, it was only a question of when the final whistle would blow. An Espanyol player got the ball, and Barça players converged on him to press as though it was minute 1 and the issue was still in doubt.

A football match is 90 minutes long. In that time, a great many things can happen. What has been happening for me of late, is a realization that I will never in my lifetime see anything in a sporting realm that is this good. Ever. I don’t really know if people realize it, though. If they watch that absurd, should-be-illegal pass that Busquets dropped at Pedro’s feet from about the parking lot, and think “Hmph! About time Pedro scored a damn goal!”

Or if, like me, they just don’t say anything because what can you say, really? Sure, you can whoop and cheer at the goal but really, what is there to be said? Today’s match had moment after moment after moment like that, where I realized how astonishing this all is. Day by day, match by match, this incredible moment slips away, and we shouldn’t let it go anywhere unappreciated.

I’m 51, and have a wife. We don’t fight. Because that time that you spend being a jackass is time you can’t get back. I tell her that I love her every day, because what it I can’t tomorrow? Life is filled with moments, little slivers of time that vex and bedazzle, awe and amaze. This is what I find myself thinking about, more and more, as I watch FC Barcelona play football these days. Time and beauty reduce us to hoarding. So you watch the match, then you watch it again. Then you watch the highlights on the evening football show. Then someone nifty like Allas makes a video, and you watch that — because you want everything that you can get. You don’t know why you want it, even as you do: It’s amazing.

Tito Vilanova was back on the bench today, in charge of the wrecking machine that he has refined. He came out with his best team, of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Messi and Pedro. And that team was fit. Fully fit. And just back from a holiday break to face an Espanyol side fresh off taking points from our bitterest rivals, and spoiling for a fight in the Catalan Derby.

And that side was destroyed. Espanyol didn’t have a chance in this match, so much so that afterward, its coach, Javier Aguirre, said, “It’s a privilege to play in the same league as this Barcelona and to watch them in action from nearby.”

This is a special team.

Yes, there are people who hate the club, its supporters and the obnoxious, spoiled way in which too many of them comport themselves. The Gaspart years were more than a decade ago. More time. The two Rijkaard silverless seasons, my most bitter memories as a cule because of the waste, the inexcusable waste of talent and magic and joy, seem so far away that people forget — the Guardiola era began in 2008, just five years ago. Winning Time seems to go on forever, but in fact it’s only a second. A wee sliver of time in which your club is the best club that anybody has ever seen. Four years and counting? Sure. Time doesn’t care about that. Four years is nothing.

Someone asked me how the players can remain, sustain and keep the concentration and the hunger. And again, for me it came down to time. I said what I thought, which is that players are aware of their time, and how short periods of excellence are. And they feel like they are wasting time when they aren’t winning, performing to the ultimate maximum of their potential.

At today’s post-match presser, Vilanova said “The players trained well during the holidays. Most even lost weight, it shows they’ve taken it seriously.”

Tick …. tick …. tick …. tick

What about David Villa, why isn’t Sanchez scoring more goals, what about Pedro, when will we stop giving up silly goals? I don’t know, and I don’t really care all that much because I don’t want to be adjusting my blanket at the observation point when the comet comes by.

As Barça was laying waste to its crosstown rival, it wasn’t with anger, that scowl that you see some teams playing with, as if something is needed — a goad to excellence. The faces had a concentration, a businesslike stare that seemed all too acutely aware of how fleeing excellence is as they focused on not wasting a second of it.

One day my wife and I were walking home, and this squirrel was bounding along, barely touching the pavement between hops. “I wonder why it’s doing that,” I said. My wife replied, “Wouldn’t you, if you could?” Yep. So, at 4-0 up, Pedro, of the brace that shoulda been a hat trick, ran at the keeper as if that dude owed him money, ran at him so fast and so aggressively that a leisurely clearance became an almost goal. It was effort, energy and desire.

Conor Williams noted on Twitter that divine talent is an illusion about this Barça, that its success is rooted in effort and desire. This is true. When you think about it, really, really think about it, yes, we have extremely talented players. But how often do they have the opportunity to show off that talent? We all hear the stories that in practice, things happen that would boggle our minds. But the match is about execution of the simple tasks, the fundamentals of the rondo, the short, simple passing and movement that when stitched together become a quilt of the most unfathomable beauty. It’s work, work by athletes who have somewhere to be, and time is running out for them to get there.

On Saturday, Ryan Giggs flicked a honey of a pass to Robin Van Persie, who slotted home from an angle. I noted on Twitter that perhaps this club has spoiled me, because that moment was, for the average cule, something you see in match after match. I also noted that we have a left/right back who can score goals like that. And it was only after someone said “See, that’s why people hate cules” that I realized a simple statement of fact could be taken the wrong way. But it’s true. And that’s just one more moment that makes you realize you are seeing something truly, truly special in this edition of Barça.

Look at today’s first goal, a stitched-together wonder of a thing that was started and ended, improbably, by Xavi. If you really, really think about it, you just don’t see goals like that, even as they have become almost routine for cules. We cheer, because that’s what you do even as, if you were to really stop and think about it, some part of you would want to stare at the screen and weep with joy at having seen something rare and beautiful.

The Treble-winning club was wonderful, but this club brings me more joy in ways that are hard to explain, but are rooted in time. In 2008 there was a system, but there was also staggering attacking brilliance in that murderers’ row of Henry/Messi/Eto’o. There was no real adversity, just amazement that in one season, the guy who many cules considered a bad choice as the club’s coach, won everything in sight.

This Barça has seen everything: injuries routine, nagging and horrific, and cancer taking a swing at its left back and coach. And it has run that gantlet only to come out on the other side with an 11 and 16 point lead over the second and third placed clubs in the table, as the club with the best start ever in Liga history, having dropped only two points in 18 matches, a side that plays with joy rather than malice, even as it sometimes spawns malicious intent.


It should be noted about today’s match that for me, Messi played his best match in a long time. The joy was back in his game, a delight probably rooted in the fact that he doesn’t have to be The Man. Xavi is scoring goals, making the runs of a forward to slot home crosses. Pedro had his brace by the half. The goals are coming, and they’re coming from others. As this happens, you can see Messi expanding his range. Today he was a defensive demon as well as an offensive one. When he plays that way, he makes the club unbeatable.

Is Pedro back? Good question. His work rate and dedication have always been there, but he seemed magnetized to the ball today in a way not seen since his breakout season.

Everyone was a delight to watch, from Iniesta seeming to dematerialize when confronted by a wall of Espanyol defenders, to Busquets demonstrating the vertical passing gifts that he has been adding to his game. Valdes preserved the clean sheet, coming up with a brilliant 1-v-1 save in a match in which he could be forgiven for losing focus.

Espanyol is in the relegation zone, we shouldn’t forget. And they were having a four-match run of success under new coach Aguirre. I was worried about this fixture, just as I will be worried about Malaga, and all the rest of them. The ingredients for failure were there: holiday break, resurgent opponent with something to play for, rust.

What I neglected to factor into my worrying is that this is a club that is racing to keep an appointment. Who knows if it will? None of us can. What I do know is that something remarkable is happening, and we’d all better be paying attention because I honestly don’t believe that we will ever see its like again.


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Written by:

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.


  1. nzm
    January 6, 2013


    Above all, we should enjoy the heck out of what we’re seeing.

    I had a wee chuckle about the RVP goal mention. Someone had told us about it so we made a point of watching it. Afterwards, we just looked at each other and shrugged. Big deal.

    Yes we culés are spoilt!

    11 points clear. WOW!

    • barca96
      January 6, 2013

      Yeah I purposely watched a review of that match to see what the big fuss was after reading the Guardian. Me and my brother looked at each other and also said, that’s it??

      Pedro did a much better control and move against Madrid, at home and away albeit Iker miraculously saved the one at the Bernabeu.

      Man the Brits are really one of a kind. They will always slate off a player and call them over rated when they are playing in a continental league or haven’t played well against am English team or NT.

      They only start to appreciate said player after he has played in the EPL or against one of the teams.

      Case in point.
      -Pirlo vs England. All of a sudden better rated than Xavi.

      Ibra vs England. Was always branded over rated and fails against big teams. I guess the Brits see their national team as a first class.

      -Michu Swansea. All of a sudden deserves a Spain call up. He was scoring many goals too for Getafe.

      -Cazorla Arsenal. Ditto. He was already good at Villareal and then Malaga.

      -Arteta Arsenal. Ditto. Difference is that he has more exposure now that he plays for a bigger team Arsenal compared to Everton. He was that good for the past half decade. I remember many years back wishing Barca would take him back to be Xavi’s back up.

      • British media has always been like that. Actually speaking the most over-rated national side is the English one. So just ignore. Remember these are the guys who said, Rooney is miles ahead of Messi! Now that says it all.

      • January 7, 2013

        And they still dont doubt this – Silva, Aguero, Yaya, Cazorla all these guys making a big impact in EPL, almost effortlessly, but Messi might not do that!!!!

  2. Dav Kumar
    January 6, 2013

    Thoroughly enjoyed this article, spot on and a good reminder to seize the moment and enjoy. We are indeed seeing history in the making, and its soooooo enjoyable!

  3. nzm
    January 6, 2013

    I also think that the goals will start coming from more players now. Whether it was planned or not, the pressure to help Messi achieve his record was immense. Now that it’s a new year, I believe that it will change.

    The pressure is also off Messi. Tonight we saw him more relaxed, playing deeper, defending and giving a complete performance as did every Barça player.

    But please can someone check that Alves puts his boots on the right feet? 😀

    • Messiah10
      January 7, 2013

      Nice! I remember thinking in the opening 20 minutes that Dani was the only player I’d rate have a poor performance at that point because of the poor passes he was piling up! I think he just needs game time. However, I saw Montoya on the roster, so was hoping he’d get some PT!

  4. mom4
    January 6, 2013

    Beautiful review!

    Absolutely dazzling game!

    When Messi is having fun on the field, he’s unplayable.

    Btw, the 60 Minutes report on FCB was the pretty good Barca 101 course.

  5. Doug
    January 6, 2013

    Kxevin – I enjoyed reading that so much, that I decided to read it again.

    Very nice article. Thanks.

  6. K_legit in Oz
    January 6, 2013

    You are 51? Woah man you look a lot younger from facebook!

  7. barca96
    January 6, 2013

    Yeah I purposely watched a review of that match to see what the big fuss was after reading the Guardian. Me and my brother looked at each other and also said, that’s it??

    Pedro did a much better control and move against Madrid, at home and away albeit Iker miraculously saved the one at the Bernabeu.

    Man the Brits are really one of a kind. They will always slate off a player and call them over rated when they are playing in a continental league or haven’t played well against am English team or NT.

    They only start to appreciate said player after he has played in the EPL or against one of the teams.

    Case in point.
    -Pirlo vs England. All of a sudden better rated than Xavi.

    Ibra vs England. Was always branded over rated and fails against big teams. I guess the Brits see their national team as a first class.

    -Michu Swansea. All of a sudden deserves a Spain call up. He was scoring many goals too for Getafe.

    -Cazorla Arsenal. Ditto. He was already good at Villareal and then Malaga.

    -Arteta Arsenal. Ditto. Difference is that he has more exposure now that he plays for a bigger team Arsenal compared to Everton. He was that good for the past half decade. I remember many years back wishing Barca would take him back to be Xavi’s back up.

  8. barca96
    January 6, 2013

    In response to G60 who claimed that Cecc dived.

    I don’t think that he dived. He was naturally off balance and even tried to not hit the goalie’s legs.

    Why is it if a player falls it has to be either a tackle or a dive. We, players, can fall if we lose momentum and fall due to a slightest of touches and fall. It doesn’t have to be a foul or a dive.

  9. barca96
    January 6, 2013

    -Pep always went back to NY which I find totally strange. I thought he accepted to attend the Ballon d’Or.

    It would be really weak of him if he had done this because he knew he wouldn’t win any prize.

    -I was watching the Sky broadcast. I found it really annoying when the commentator, Gerry Armstrong’s co host claimed that Messi is not playing well. What the hell are wrong with these guys? They’ve been watching many football for so long and they still equate (striker no goal or not having many shots on target = poor display).

    Messi was everywhere being a 3rd play maker. He created at least 1 goal and a few others where it was wrongly called offside and missed chances.

    And Gerry said Busi was making a meal out of an ELBOW challenge in the 2nd half. Pathetic haters!

    • January 6, 2013

      I think Pep went back to NYC because he doesn’t want the Ballon d’Or gala to turn into a media circus about where he will be coaching next. And he knows he won’t win, so yeah, that’s another reason not to go.

    • K_legit in Oz
      January 6, 2013

      Gerry Armstrong is often unbiased and quite a good colour commentator but with Busquets he refuses to let go of past bias!

  10. K_legit in Oz
    January 6, 2013

    And I hope Pedro gets his ‘!’ back soon! Great start to the year for him!

  11. The second goal from Pedro shows that he is back. He has been scoring those kind of brilliant goals for Spain this season. That finish was exquisite. We need this guy to be in scoring form going into second half of season. I don’t know why and how, Pedro always score in big games.

  12. Blau-Grenade
    January 7, 2013

    Lovely review. Thanks Kxevin.
    It is a joy to see Busi’s progress. In this match I saw long passes from him for the first time.

    • chadh
      January 7, 2013

      I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that Busquets may be the most vital cog in the Barcelona machine.

      I can’t remember seeing a top-class player slower than Sergio Busquets, but he is ALWAYS in the right place. Any time the opposition push forward, Busquets is the first defender to step up and challenge. He tackles, he steals the ball, he intercepts the ball, he shuts down attackers, he forces attackers back. And that’s just the stuff he does when the other guys have the ball. When Pique presses forward, Busquets drops into the backline. He is always positioned as an outlet for any team mate. He is never caught with the ball. His passes are so consistently accurate that you remember the one pass he misses each month. And he makes assists like that one to Pedro.

      And he does all of this every single game. Without fail.

      All over the premier league, at Real Madrid, in most of the teams in La Liga, they have two players filling Busquets’ role. And those two players between them barely accomplish half of the things Busquets does. By my calculations, that makes Busquets the equivalent of three or four ordinary midfielders.

      • January 7, 2013

        I can’t remember seeing a top-class player slower than Sergio Busquets

        This made me think…Zidane was pretty slow, too!

      • Messiah10
        January 8, 2013

        Fantastic explanation of what it is Busi means to us. I reached that conclusion a season ago, but I’m glad your there either way! He is so technically proficient. He is a machine. He just oozes pure class. Yes, I have a man crush!

  13. socrates
    January 7, 2013

    I have been keeping an eye on a lot of Barca blogs and websites of late and I have found them always somewhat lacking. Not in intensity or passion or critical gaze, but somehow they don’t capture the essence of what we are watching when we see this Barcelona team play. And here, with Kevin’s insightful piece, I think I understand what is missing in all these other reviews, amidst the cacophony of their sound and fury – a sense of Time, or timelessness. The temporal significance of this moment which transcends each particular match, and the season itself. We are witnessing a modern footballing epic, a thing of such profound beauty that it is timeless, unforgettable, (and as Ray Hudson constantly reminds us) sublime.
    Kevin weaves a tale of Barca, joy, passion, love and his wife. See, it is so much more than football, or life and death, as Bill Shankly would have it; it becomes everything.
    I came to Barcelona late in life, after a youth obsessed with Arsenal followed by 20 years in the wilderness of other non- footballing activities. It was my 8-year-old son who brought me back to the Life. His mother fell gravely ill and to help him cope I offered to grant him one magnificent wish. He did not hesitate. This child’s Willy Wonka Chocolate factory was Camp Nou. And so a few weeks later we found ourselves on a long odyssey to Barcelona, finding nirvana as Messi scored his second goal against Betis one wondrous January evening in 2012.
    Something moved in me that night, watching the infectious radiant joy of my little boy and the 98,000 other Barca fans. A magic I had not thought possible in an age like ours, and certainly not stirred by a bunch of young guys kicking a ball around a park.
    But it is not just any bunch of guys, it is the culmination of a whole series of events and interventions over the years, beyond Tito and Messi, beyond Pep and Ronaldinho, beyond Cruyff and the Dream Team, maybe it goes back to the anti-fascist Republic of the Spanish Civil war, but it all adds up to this – the most extraordinary moment when all these disparate elements merge from La Masia to La Mancha to Rosario and produce this team, this squad, this phenomenal time in football and history. A time so magnificent it transcends itself.
    Barcelona 4, Espanyol 0. 28 minutes or so of sublime/epic/etc. football and an hour of masterful domination. The game is over and we return to our humdrum existence. To have lived through all this is enough.
    I am not a xtian but there are modern day miracles at work here. Not just on the pitch – Pedro’s goal, Iniesta unleashed, Messi every time – but all around: like Tito and Abidal’s embrace representing a victory for the power of football over cancer.
    When Messi scored that second goal against Betis that beautiful night in Camp Nou in 2012, my little boy in the front row jumped with unbound joy and everything in the world was alright for that eternal moment.
    So thank you Kevin for writing these words, for capturing the essence of this FC Barcelona time.
    PS And for those who like fairy tale endings: yes, the boy’s mother did recover — and Barcelona are set to win another triple this season…

    • flyzowee
      January 7, 2013

      Thanks for this. Amazing story.
      There are only two places where my problems and issues of life pale into insigificance
      1. At church
      2. 90 min with barca

    • K_legit in Oz
      January 7, 2013

      Welcome to the fold! Please stay awhile!

      • barca96
        January 7, 2013

        What a beautiful story. Your 8 year old son really knows his football doesn’t he? 🙂

        Yeah Kxevin should write a book on Barcelona. The way he writes is really beautiful. I’ve never seen anyone write like this. To be honest I’m not much of a reader but I love to open BFB as one of the first thing I do when I wake up and to find an aka piece (aka means it’s a Kxevin master piece).

    • Messiah10
      January 7, 2013

      Thank you for sharing your personal life with us in such a inspiring way.

    • January 7, 2013

      Wow, socrates, what a lovely comment & a great story about your family! Welcome. Please stay a while.

      • January 7, 2013

        socrates, thank you. When Isaiah started this space, back in the Offside days, it felt pretty typical for a while. Then his crazy passion infected the room and suddenly, it was different.

        We moved over here, and that difference bacame something special. Family? Sure, as much as you can be with people you have never met. And you extraordinary words underscore that. So thank you. So much.

    • cliveee
      January 7, 2013

      Great comment!

      Yes, indeed, a lot of blogs have the intensities, the passion and love but only very few express the poetry of how this team win with style.

  14. Gogah
    January 7, 2013

    Having long been a vocal protester of the forced Fabregas inclusion, I must admit, it now looks like the boy has come of age.

    Iniesta and Fabregas; 2 players playing at the peak of their powers, constantly switching positions is a nightmare for defenders.

    And Villa, unfortunately, is playing in a team that is a little beyond him currently. Its a bit sad to see him eager to impress. Hope the club finds the best solution for him. A great player like him doesn’t deserve to feel like crap, which is bound to happen only in barcelona. Hope he goes somewhere where he can once again become the finest striker on the planet.

    • barca96
      January 7, 2013

      His decision making is quite poor now. Once he tried to dribble 3 guys. Are you freaking serious?! He was never a dribbler and now he’s attempting to dribble 3 guys instead of just passing it back.

      And I know he’s a striker so he has that instict to shoot whenever in the box but I thought he would increase his football IQ after 2 years here.

      On one moment last night he took a weak shot when he could’ve laid it onto an incoming Pedro I think. I was hella pissed. He was off balance and the angle was tight and yet he tried to take a shot.

      • January 7, 2013

        In his defense, the team was already 4 goals up at the time. I can’t really blame him for trying a shot if he thought he had a chance.

    • Messiah10
      January 7, 2013

      12:30 Eastern Standard Time U.S.

  15. January 7, 2013

    Thats right Kxevin. Our first half performance, especially, was a dream team performance. And Messi was playing between a no.10 and a c.midfielder. There were couple of his passes tonight which made me think the same as you. This was his best in some time.

  16. Manish
    January 7, 2013

    What a masterful review…was a treat to read…

    Had to bring this up after the EE match… Ronaldo seems to be back to his best… True.. In diving… He had 10 dives in a single match…one for the red and the other resulted in a free kick foal which the keeper made quite a blunder…

    Think there should be a post match review panel analyzing dives and handing out bans…

  17. January 7, 2013

    What struck me about yesterday after the rerun is that this was a TEAM performance. Messi was a cylinder in the engine. It’s curious that this quality is most like the Treble-winning side. Goals came from any and everywhere, just like this group.

    Yes, Messi scores. Man, does he score. But a complete team frees him up be the best player alive. For me it’s influence. Messi made one run near the box amd moved 5 defenders with him. Not hard to see how a run by someone would have resulted in a goal. He pressed, he ran, I got just a little sense, maybe a misguided one, of the colissal load that was on those shoulders last season.

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Agree. It seemed in this match that the players were all playing “within” the system. At times in other matches you see that it can break down and they resort to, “Just give Messi the damn ball”. This match was different. It had a continual flow of that fluid continuity and the team just oozed class. A joy to watch and a treat for all who were able to. Thanks for your review Kxevin. It was amazing! Probably the best read I’ve had on here and certainly the best of the season. It was so good I saved it to my google docs Barcelona file! I don’t do that with just any piece about Barca. Only the ones that truly express the greatness that we are witnessing. Thanks for putting my thoughts into your words because you do it so well!

  18. alpinegroove
    January 7, 2013

    It was really nice to see Pedro have more freedom to come inside yesterday. When Alexis replaced him, he made a few great runs from the right as well, and I think we’ll be seeing some exciting stuff if these two will continue to get that freedom.

  19. chadh
    January 7, 2013

    I’m currently locked into a TV provider in the US that doesn’t carry BEIN, so I usually have to watch Barca matches online. I probably should feel guilty about that…but that’s a different issue.

    While watching online, my picture will intermittently freeze. Luckily, I rarely miss goals this way (although I did miss Xavi’s yesterday, and had to wait around for replays to marvel at Iniesta’s assist). But one inconvenient freeze-frame early in the second half made me laugh. Messi had the ball about 45 yards from goal, trotting forward at no more than half-speed. Within arm’s reach, there were six Espanyol defenders, and not one of them was brave enough to make a play for the ball. Meanwhile, Alves was wide open on the right, and lord knows how many were queuing up on the left, completely untroubled by defenders.

    How can anyone score, let alone score 91 goals in a year, when facing that kind of attention?

    As I waited for the images to start moving again, a crazy theory began to take shape in my mind. Messi’s ruthless feats in front of goal this season, the limited goal output from Pedro, Alexis’s unwillingness to shoot and score, maybe even the limited playing time for Villa, all make sense as a determined, ideologically motivated response to last season’s apparent “failures”.

    In the course of a week, Barca was knocked out of last year’s Champions’ League and had their La Liga hopes extinguished in a loss to Madrid. Suddenly there were complaints about Barcelona being uni-dimensional and needing a “Plan B”. How could they possibly hope to tiki-taka their way through the box if it’s filled with ten opposing players shutting down their only serious scoring threat? When would this team learn that blasting speculative shots from the perimeter, or launching high crosses to towering center-forwards, is a vital part of the game for any well-rounded, competitive team?

    And so Barcelona carefully crafted a response. They weighed into the transfer market and bought a midfielder to play as a back-up central defender, as well as the tiniest left-back on the planet. They lost their brilliant and charismatic coach, and replaced him with a guy whose biggest claim to fame was as a cancer victim who was poked in the eye by a very successful football manager. They promoted five players from the B-team. And they committed themselves to play even more like Barcelona than before.

    And what do they have to show for it? Fifty-two points from a possible fifty-four in La Liga, short-odds favoritism in the Champions’ League and a sort-of striker with 27 goals in 18 league games, 91 in the past twelve months, and his fourth Ballon d’Or in the bag. I can’t help but think the first half of this season has been one huge middle finger raised quite deliberately to those who insist that football teams must be pragmatic to be successful.

    I can just imagine Xavi quietly encouraging the opposition to play twelve, thirteen men in the box, confident that this Barcelona team could still pass the ball to Messi’s feet, with enough room to score goals.

    • garry
      January 7, 2013

      Gr8 comment…!
      Kxevin’s charm seems to have rubbed off in the comments too!

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Awesome! ^^^ This! Thanks for the smile. 🙂

  20. cliveee
    January 7, 2013

    I was a little touched when I read that Valdano called Guardiola romantic because football is a sport that I never associate romance with. But what this team has transcended to is absurd. They way we learned how to appreciate a sport has changed by this team. We no longer play just for results, but also by the process.

    Teams know how we process, because they saw, that’s why they park.
    We don’t care as we remain the attacking side that play wonderful wonderful football to process each opponent. No matter how many players you put in front of the goal. We still try to dispatch your setup by passing non-stop, by raising hell for your team. We know exactly how we should play to win games, so we continue. Continuation is beautiful because it’s timeless, and timelessness is sublime.

    When lovers say I love you everyday to each other after 20, 30, 40 or 51 years, they may not feel the intensity anymore. They don’t count how many times they say it, they just do it, because they know what it means, they know why they say it. A lot of effort is involved. It’s not as easy as it seems, but when the 3 words, 8 letters are said, we take it for granted. They are just words. But what’s behind these words are romantic, because it’s the effort of loving someone, being with someone so stubbornly over time demonstrated in verbal form.

    Right before Xavi slid that cross from Iniesta to the net, time seemed to have stopped a little. Espanyol players felt like they were in a different time speed. They parked the bus well for 10 minutes and were so focus on defending, but when the passing around the box occurred, Iniesta took a touch, form shifted, time changed, Xavi ran into space to receive that cross, and as a coach, you would wonder “How the heck did that happen?!” as you told your team to kick everything outta there. The depth of this team is so powerful as it doesn’t stop doing the same thing to beat teams. It becomes so routine, it becomes a process, a rule that must happen. The more we watch, the more we learn how to appreciate this beauty. So thanks for putting it so well, Kxevin.

    • cliveee
      January 7, 2013

      Last but not least, Pedro! is back on scoring! Hattrick or not, the important thing is that his confidence is totally back!

      • barca96
        January 7, 2013

        You went Mia and came back with some heavy stuff hehe.

  21. barca96
    January 7, 2013

    Now the Ballon d’Or will be on soon. Who do you guys think will win it? Messick or Iniesta.

    I want Messi to win it. He is simply the best, most consistent over the past year/season.

    Of course the romantic will want Iniesta to win it but I as a fan of Barca and someone who watches 99.9% of the matches think that Messi has been more important and consistent than Iniesta.

      • Richzorz
        January 7, 2013

        Perhaps he’s just doing motion-capture for the next FIFA video game (do they hand out awards in those? :p )

      • G6O
        January 7, 2013

        I came here to post an angry rant about that too 🙁

      • Messiah10
        January 8, 2013

        Someone on the BBC said he was wearing a polka dot suit because each dot represented every goal he’s scored. This Year! haha. I loved it so had to share.

      • Skipper5
        January 8, 2013

        i actually liked the suit, esp front vieew with the lapels breaking the pattern, would have been too much if the pants were polka dotted too.

  22. mom4
    January 7, 2013

    Pia won best women”s coach—USA women at least have this soccer thing down!

    • mom4
      January 7, 2013

      And Abby Wambach the women’s Ballon D’Or.

      Can the men’s team please start doing ANYWHERE near as well?

  23. Gogah
    January 7, 2013

    messi, 4 down, 3 more to go?
    and is the world XI really 5 barca + 5 EE + falcao?

    • mom4
      January 7, 2013

      All from our league and not “the greatest league in the worild”. Means none from Stoke. So could any of these XI do it on a cold Wednesday night at the Britannia?

      • Messiah10
        January 8, 2013

        You should see all the hate and vitriolic posts on the BBC. I think a lot of it are Man U supporters who obviously favor CR and don’t want to admit that Messi is the BEST. Then there’s the hate on the starting 11. Amazing. You are better for not seeing it! 🙂

    • nzm
      January 7, 2013

      I’m truly gutted that Busquets missed out on a nomination. Goes to show how much his role is unnoticed and unappreciated by the general masses.

      • mom4
        January 7, 2013

        Me too but it’s really better this way. Our secret weapon—Keep him secret, Keep him safe!

    • Tank
      January 7, 2013

      I guess there is a point in arguing that neither Pique or Alves have been the best in their respective positions over the last 12 months. So there is for Marcelo. Lahm – Hummels – Ramos – Alba would be my back four.

      Xavi vs. Pirlo is a close call. Pirlo arguably had the better first half of the year and a better Euro right until the final. Xavi outclassed him, and pretty much the rest of the world, in the Euro final and had a magnificent second half of the year. Pirlo’s season so far is far from being shabby, but not quite on the same level as Xavi’s.

      • Gogah
        January 8, 2013

        I’d replace xavi with pirlo, alonso with busquets, ramos with kompany/hummels and you have a better/more fair world XI

  24. Judas Pissed
    January 7, 2013

    Thailand coach and ex-Borussia Monchengladbach UEFA Cup Winner Winfried Schäfer selected Busquets as his number one choice…

    • Tank
      January 7, 2013

      Not the worst of choices. He’s the best defensive midfielder by some distance. (Counting Pirlo as a central midfielder who happens to play quite deep.) For what other position can you say something similar? Well, there is a certain Argentine…

      • barca96
        January 8, 2013

        Well he certainly knows his stuff that journey man coach. I really appreciate his choice. Not many people would have selected Busquets even in the first XI.

        The FIFA world XI is just like a popularity contest.
        How on earth did Marcelo, Pique, Alonso get on there.
        I’d swap Alba, Chiellini (not seen but based on the season reviews I read on Juve) and Busi for those 3.

        • Tank
          January 8, 2013

          Chiellini is a mixture of a classic Italian CB like Nesta and an English CB like Terry or Vidic. He has the positional awareness of his fellow countrymen and the hard-tackling attitude of a top-class Premier League defender. Makes a pretty good mix.

          With the ball at his feet though, he is not on the same level as Hummels, Pique or Mascherano.

  25. January 7, 2013

    RoSELL chimed in with a quote saying that Messi winning the Ballon d’Or was kinda like winning the Champions League for “us.” No. No way. Far, far, from that. I just want to get back to football now. Messi has the scoring record in a single year (unless you ask the Namibians), and the Ballon d’Or. Marvy. Meanwhile, his team has some souls to crush.

    In my second half of the season dream, I would like to see Pedro reacquire his exclamation points, and Sanchez to figure out this system that he at times struggles with. As many have noted, however, Pedro is playing exactly the same. It’s just that yesterday, he got a couple of goals. This is true. But those goals make a significant difference in a player’s confidence. Here’s hoping he keeps the ball rolling.

    It’s also high time that I admit my reservations/resistance to the arrival of Fabregas were misguided. I just didn’t realize the adaptation of the template that was going to transpire, as well as his adaptability as a player. Essentially, he enables Iniesta and Messi, while switching places in the attack with Iniesta and/or Alba. It’s absolutely absurd.

    Can I snark about the price? Sure. But not the player. Dude is getting it done.

    • January 7, 2013

      I suspect you are being harsh on yourself, because you were never against Cesc coming home but just wanted to wait another summer before doing so.

      A player of that quality, who is from La Masía to boot? A no-brainer really, and only a matter of time before he adapted. And although it did take longer than I expected, I never had any doubts he would fit in well. In hindsight a good thing he came when he did, I guess…

      Rosell’s comments…sigh. I was cheering for Leo to win the balon d’or but to equate it with a CL medal is just ridiculous.

    • January 7, 2013

      Essentially, he enables Iniesta and Messi, while switching places in the attack with Iniesta and/or Alba.

      Exactly right. What Cesc + Iniesta + Alba do on the left side is absolutely magical. It’s like a spinning triangle of players that moves forward & back as needed, constantly switching places & playing off each other. When all three are in form they are frankly unplayable.

      And as I said during Sunday’s game, Cesc & Iniesta’s health & form this season are the main reason Villa isn’t getting as much playing time as he would like. There is just no room for him on the left, and he has never been very good on the right side, unlike Pedro or Alexis who can switch sides easily.

      Remember two years ago, when almost all attacks went through the right side, via Dani, Pedro & Messi, while the left was our defensive side with Abidal or Maxwell? How things change.

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Really you haven’t been that hard on Cesc or questioning of the decision to bring him here. Maybe to yourself in private thoughts? 🙂 I really think this is Tito’s shining moment as our coach. It was he who wanted Cesc. It was he who knew in his mind the way he could see him fitting in. Pep wanted to tinker and move him around a lot and it didn’t work for Cesc or us. Tito probably told Pep where he thought he should play, but Pep wanted to see what else he could do with him. Bravo Tito!

      • January 8, 2013

        Not on board with this ex post facto rationalization. I think it was pretty clear that it took Cesc as a player time to get to this point, and the reason he was not played this way last year was because he was not ready to play this way. At least that’s what I see when I compare watching him play last year vs. this year.

  26. K_legit in Oz
    January 7, 2013

    I think it would be just to state that whatever Cristiano does it seems that he is destined to be the Salieri to Messi’s Mozart!

  27. Skipper5
    January 7, 2013

    the first 30 mins of this match made me think of that dazzling, dizzying opening 20mins against Arsenal a few seasons ago, (the match that ended 2-2). in that one we failed to score somehow but in this one we were clinical and ruthless. i felt for the Espanyol players, my futsal team was handed such a thumping in the play-off final last week(8-2 final score). They were on us like duck on a junebug, and within 15 mins it became damage limitation as it did vs Espanyol. This was an absoulutely delightful match. just delightful.

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Thanks for posting. I like the read as well and completely agree. The “best goal of the year” category is an absolute joke. Neymar’s wasn’t even that great IMHO, but, because he’s a big name, he was put up there. FIFA agenda all the way. I do think players deserve recognition for their play in some form. I’m not sure what that is. Maybe just the All FIFA Team or All Liga Team. Something along those lines. However, since there is a Ballon d’Or, I’m glad are little Argentine has won 4 years running!!! Incredible and most deserved.

  28. nia
    January 7, 2013

    At the pre-Balon conference, Messi and CR were asked why they didn’t vote for each other. After CR answered, it went silent and Messi couldn’t help himself but chuckle at CR’s answer (which was nonsense btw, at least Messi had the balls to say that CR wasn’t in his plans). Ofcourse, Iniesta had his poker face on 🙂 🙂

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      He (CR7) was “injured”. What a coincidence. And even then with the technology we have nowadays, was there really a need to give the privilege to vote away just like that?

      Yes, Messi at least has the balls to be honest.

      I too didn’t think that CR7 should’ve been in the top 3. CR7 should be just ahead of Falcao.

      • barca96
        January 8, 2013

        Cheap shot of gaining one more vote and a vote less for Messi.

  29. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    I was looking up on the net trying to find out who that lady who presented the woman’s player of the year award. It is Hope Solo. No wonder she looked familiar. I’ve always had a thing for her since the first time I laid my eyes on her 2-3 years back.

    But man… Her body is even big for a man. I had a body like that. Geez. Never noticed before she had a body that big. Her face is feminine but her body is manly. She shouldn’t have hit the gym.

    • January 8, 2013

      yeah, my gf and I were gaping at the screen looking at her…

      A new Hope Solo, with the face of Princess Leia and the body of Chewbacca :s

      • barca96
        January 8, 2013

        ROFL. What a perfect way to describe her 😆

        I actually fantasized her as Princess Leia for a moment just now and now you mentioned it. Haha. I’ve always had the Princess Leia fetish.

        • Xingxian
          January 8, 2013

          I find her build attractive, and am horrified that anyone would tell an athlete ‘you shouldn’t have hit the gym’.

          What’s more important, that she has a lot of fat around her breasts and hips, or that she’s the best goalkeeper she can be?

    • January 8, 2013

      I’m sorry that Hope Solo’s body doesn’t fit into your preconceived notions of what a woman “should” look like. To me she looked strong, healthy, and athletic. Very sexy.

      • January 8, 2013

        I think that athletes are beautiful, in all their shapes and forms. We have bodies. Those bodies work better and mote effectively if we use them. The subsequent development is just what happens.

        A photo was posted of a track cyclist, Robert Forstemann, he of the colossal thighs. Many women said “Ick.” I said it doesn’t matter, because the sport-related specificity required of him has forced that development. Therein lies the beauty.

        For me, as an athlete, women with muscle make me swoon. Always. It is a question of aesthetics. But to each his/her own.

    • ooga aga
      January 8, 2013

      “she shouldnt have hit the gym”

      i have been around young women with body image issues, and eating disorders. the same women who starve themselves also avoid the gym to avoid looking “butch”….and they end up treating themselves in a very unhealthy way.

      i wonder where they get these messages that if they lift weights, they wont look good to men…oh yeah, people like you.

      waif does not equal healthy. …bro

  30. Richzorz
    January 8, 2013

    Kudos to the Thailand coach (even if he didn’t pick Messi in his top 3), Sergio Busquets best player in the world!!! 😀

  31. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but these below are just mind boggling to me;

    Vucinic clearly doesn’t watch any other league as he only voted for Seria A players. Buffon, Pirlo & Zlatan.

    Iker – Ramos as the best?? After many brain farts at that.
    Emre – Falcao, Ozil and Ronaldo.
    Hugo Lloris – Casillas, Falcao and Drogba.
    Bruno Alves who voted instead of CR7 – CR7, Falcao and RVP. Not only does he try to take Messi out but spoil any chances for any Spanish players. Amazing hatred and jealousy.
    Austria – Balotelli 3rd???
    Bahamas- Rooney 2nd??
    Lithuania – Ibra, Rooney and Pique.
    Zimbabwe – Pique 2nd ahead of Messi??
    Comoros – Iniesta, Ramos?? and RVP??
    Cuba – Alonso????, Messi and Ronaldo
    Jamaica – Alonso???
    Georgia – Rooney??
    Koreans – Finally agree on something. They both rate Ozil as 3rd best.
    Laos – Balotelli 3rd???
    Namibia – Drogba??, Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso??
    Palestine – Iker and Balotelli??

    Now the coaches who I assumed should know more about the players importance;
    Ecuador – Falcao, Messi and Neuer??

    • January 8, 2013

      Some people start with the premise that a player must win something important in order to be considered best player of the year. It is not an opinion I share, but it does help understand at least some of the choices.

      • January 8, 2013

        Dump the Ballon. No point to it. Does Messi need a shiny trinket to know he is the best player alive? Nope. It doesn’t matter.

        Ask what cules would be saying had Ronaldo won yesterday. “The voting is a joke,” “The fix was in,” “Too much weight is given to trophies,” etc.

        It’s all subjective and flawed.

        • barca96
          January 8, 2013

          Kxevin, so you think Messi is the best player alive?..

          If Ronaldo had won yesterday, I would’ve just thought that he didn’t deserve it. I wouldn’t say that the voting system is flawed or it was fixed or voting is a joke because it’s a transparent voting system.

  32. January 8, 2013

    Yeah, Hope must really be distraught at the thought of not conforming to your ideas about how she should look.

    She definitely made the wrong decision by hitting the gym. She wouldn’t have turned out as good as she has between the posts but hey, that doesn’t really matter when it comes to looks does it?

    I hope she doesn’t look at those two Olympic gold medals and wonder what could have been..

    • January 8, 2013

      This was meant to be a reply to barca96. Dunno what happened.

      • barca96
        January 8, 2013

        Woke up on the wrong side of the bed?

        Chillax. Obviously I know that she needed to hit the gym to be a top athlete. Don’t need to lay it out for me. Don’t need to be so serious about it dude.

        • barca96
          January 8, 2013

          But she is a GK, was there a need to be so muscular? Or was she always like that? I’m not from the States and have never followed women football so apologies if I do not know it beforehand.

          • January 8, 2013

            Hate to break the news to ya, but Hope Solo isn’t THAT muscular. You should look at some female track cyclists, such as Anna Meares or Kristina Vogel to see some muscles.

            The gym is part of any athlete’s training regimen, male and female. Hell, the gym should be part of everyone’s daily regimen, period. But ….

            If you look at Hope Solo, you can see that her body form and musculature would indicate that she would respond to gym work very rapidly. It happens, and she is very lucky for that. This is the picture of Solo at the BdO gala, and all that I can say is …. WOW! Fit, strong and proud.


            It’s funny. I have been track cycling for going on 30 years, and lifting heavy for about as long. My body responds to weight training by bulking up. So at present, my waist and thigh measurements are roughly the same. Others lift and lift and get stronger, but don’t get bigger.

            Athletes don’t make a choice about how their body looks or responds to exercise. Genetics do that.

        • January 8, 2013

          Obviously I know that she needed to hit the gym to be a top athlete

          But she is a GK, was there a need to be so muscular? Or was she always like that?


        • Xingxian
          January 8, 2013

          ‘chillax’? Those were some pretty degrading comments.

          That’s my country’s goalkeeper thank you very much 😛

          • January 8, 2013

            I agree, they were degrading comments promoting women sticking to stereotypes of beauty. That it was not realized by the commenter simply shows how ingrained they are.

        • ooga aga
          January 8, 2013

          no dude, this IS something to be serious about. you say ridiculous things, people are going to call you on it. sorry… bro

    • nzm
      January 8, 2013

      Just weighing in on this, as a female. 🙂

      Physically, Hope looks absolutely stunning. God knows, most women (including me) would love to look as toned as she is. Over-muscular? No way.

      I do have to say though, that although her dress was gorgeous, it wasn’t the dress for her figure. It made her look too top heavy around the shoulders. A better cut and design would have brought more shape and balance.

      She looks amazing, nonetheless.

      • cliveee
        January 9, 2013

        My thought exactly, but as a dude. XD

        She is not muscular to me, she just has a big body frame. She can play basketball if you ask me.

        • cliveee
          January 9, 2013

          and the exact thought is on the dress.

  33. elcapitan
    January 8, 2013

    One word! MESSI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. January 8, 2013

    My favourite twitter comment from yesterday:

    @SergiRoberto10 I Busquets no està a l’ 11? …

    And that is why I love Sergi Roberto. <3

  35. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    Slightly off topic.

    I’m gutted that Robert Griffin is injured like that. Not on one knee but both damned knees. How unlucky is he?!

    The kid had a dream like rookie season.

    One thing I don’t understand is, how come he became a captain halfway (or near the play off)? Aren’t captains elected before the season starts?

    And he is a rookie. How come he is expected to be the captain among all those other players who are more experienced than him?

    Imagine Thiago getting the arm band.

  36. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    I found it quite strange that Messi didn’t thank Pep or Tito or congratula CR7 or Iniesta.

      • barca96
        January 8, 2013

        I can imagine. But that’s why most of the people who are nominated for an award have a note ready with people to thank during their acceptance speech.

        Hopefully he’ll remember to thank the people he missed out on his first interview after the speech before the people in the media start calling him names.

  37. Manish
    January 8, 2013

    Is the US womens NT better than the mens.. from watching their matches.. the womens NT seems really really quick and good…

    • January 8, 2013

      In terms of the level of their competition? Yes. They are the best in the world. The mens’ USNT is good but isn’t at that level. Here in Canada, our women’s NT is brilliant, while our men are dreadful.

    • Skipper5
      January 8, 2013

      idk about better, the men are competing in a much more competitive and diverse field. that’s to say men’s soccer was taken seriously in US long after other nations had developed the necessary cultural and professional infrastructure that’s why they are a little behind and in any event US soccer is catching up very fast (US beat Spain yes?) with the women their progress has been much in line with the progress in women’s soccer as in other nations and having the population+wealth advantage it is easy to see why they are dominating. US men soccer team is going to be a powerhouse very very soon. in any event i think USA is already better than half the european nations.

      • January 8, 2013

        US soccer is not ‘catching up very fast’, in fact it’s kind of stalled out or plateau’d. They are good enough to get some ‘shock’ results against better nations, but when challenged to play more proactive, attacking football there have been problems. Until there are more American players playing in top leagues around the world, it will be difficult for the MNT to catch up to the top international level.

        • Messiah10
          January 8, 2013

          That’s because to train a kid and put him on a club team so he plays football(soccer) year round and everyday costs thousands of dollars! My son is 14 and plays travel soccer and it’s NOT cheap. Compare that to basketball/AAU, Football, and Baseball and it’s one of the most expensive sports to play competitively besides hockey. Until we get a youth system that’s geared towards all U.S. children we will never have the best athletes or potential players in our National team. It’s sad because with our population, wealth, and interest growing we should be getting exponentially better. Like you said, we’re stagnating.

          • January 9, 2013

            Yeah this is absolutely the case, and what I’ve heard from many people. It’s something Jurgen Klinsmann has criticized in interviews as well.

            Of course the terrible judgement in talent spotting for the national team hasn’t helped… Dropping Neven Subotic from the US U-20 team was just terrible. I’m not confident that this situation hasn’t repeated itself with other players who never got a chance elsewhere, unlike Subotic.

          • Messiah10
            January 10, 2013

            Travel soccer is basically a step above recreation soccer. Recreation soccer is what MOST US children play. You have weekend games, 1 maybe 2 practices a week, and dads who coach the teams and don’t know squat about the game. I coached it for 5 years and tried to instill the fundamentals in my kids. Travel soccer is for kids who show a better understanding and talent for the game. Practice everyday, travel around the state or surrounding states for tournaments, payed coaches, more intense training, with Winter indoor training. The problem is it costs SO much more than recreational that kids who should be playing travel aren’t BECAUSE of the COST and kids who shouldn’t be picked for travel are BECAUSE they’re parents CAN afford it. SO the most talented kids are left with little to no training and never develop past a basic level.

      • mei
        January 8, 2013

        There are lots of things that the article conspicuously omits.

        Like Dani’s recently recovered from several consecutive injuries.
        So maybe his physical attributes are not reduced by age rather than recent injuries.Injuries can be overcome.

        Tactically Alba’s introduction was always going to mean that the ever bombing down the flag Alves had to stay back covering his fellow full back.

        Also,since the wingers are doing a different job this season and specifically the left wing is overloaded with iniesta cesc and alba doing their thing Alves would have to drop lower to balance the system out and prevent counter attacks.

        Writing off a player who has quite consistently been at the top of his game for what is it, 7 years now(?) halfway through the season simply doesn’t sound right.
        Combine this with the observations above and the fact that last year , he was sidelined also because of tactical decisions(3-4-3 anyone?) plus the absence of a certain Eric Abidal . We’ll see soon enough what’s the case. Rushing judgement or trying to apply the 3 year brazilian rule is totally undeserving, IMO.

        • K_legit in Oz
          January 8, 2013


          Alves is still Alves, maybe his attacking has curbed because of injuries, tactical decisions but he still is a constant threat and the opposition is still scared of him!

          • January 8, 2013

            Adriano has been awesome so far. If he can keep from getting injured he should be first choice.

            I am less convinced about Montoya, though. If he is preferred for being a better defensive back, I would argue that Dani Alves can do that job just as well and probably better if so ordered.

          • pr17
            January 9, 2013

            Has Alves’s ineffective performances got something to do with fact that he is not using his signature wristbands anymore.

            He looked totally awesome with his wristbands. Maybe that is the route to form.

  38. K_legit in Oz
    January 8, 2013

    That Hope Solo is quite the looker!

  39. January 8, 2013

    I’d like to apologize, and especially to all female readers, about my Princess Leia / Chewbacca quip about Hope Solo this morning.

    Although disrespectful jokes are very much part of my personality, so is the respect with which I treat women.

    Unfortunately the former is a character trait that in this case threw a two-footed tackle at the latter, especially on the internet where nobody knows me personally.

    It was just a joke.

    The most beautiful thing about beauty is, after all, that it’s in the eyes of the beholder.

  40. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    Her body is even big for a man. I
    had a body like that. Geez. Never noticed
    before she had a body that big. Her face is
    feminine but her body is manly. She
    shouldn’t have hit the gym.

    The only comment that wasn’t politically correct was this and yet I don’t think it warranted being targeted like this.

    My opinion is that she has quite a big muscular body? Is it degrading to her?

    Did I call her fat? Did I call her ugly? Did I call her a monster?

    The fact that I went on the Internet to find out who she was seems to be a compliment to her beauty.

    I was looking up on the net trying to find
    out who that lady who presented the
    woman’s player of the year award. It is
    Hope Solo. No wonder she looked familiar.
    I’ve always had a thing for her since the
    first time I laid my eyes on her 2-3 years

    My English is limited but I know there’s an appropriate word for this something called selective…

    But she is a GK, was there a need to be so
    muscular? Or was she always like that?

    Again, how am I so wrong to have this opinion? If you can’t admit that she has a muscular body and think that I’m degrading her, I am really sorry for offending you.

    I don’t know. I didn’t insult her. I didn’t insult anyone here. It seems that most of the people here are strictly politically correct people.

    • January 8, 2013


      What offended me was your casual assumption that women “should” be more conscious of what men might potentially think of their bodies (the “male gaze”) than their own needs and desires for fitness. It’s an idea that is constantly perpetuated in the media and popular culture, and women and girls are bombarded with it.

      When you say she “shouldn’t” have hit the gym, or “was there a need?” for her to be so muscular, you are implying that her choice to look that way is incorrect, unfeminine, “manly” and wrong.

      Obviously everyone has their own criteria for what they find attractive, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you don’t like muscular women, that’s fine, that’s your deal. But please don’t disparage what a woman looks like just because she’s not your cup of tea.

  41. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    Obviously what?

    She needs to hit the gym because she’s a top athlete?
    She needs to be some muscular for a goal keeper?

    I just don’t think that as a goal keeper there is a need to be so muscular. Actually in football in general. It’s different to American sports.

    Of course athletes have to go to the gym but I just don’t think that much is needed for football players. Or like I asked before, was she always like that (big build)?

    • ooga aga
      January 9, 2013

      the question is, how long do we sit here and try to give barca96 a clue. after all, it’s a football forum. but barca96, what you said was clearly problematic, lots of people called you on it, so it’s not like one person just being arbitrary. and yet you continue to argue that what you said is “ok.” just the fact that it upset several people here means it WASNT “ok.” so, either admit you were wrong, or drop it, because you arent gonna win this one.

      let me ask you: do you have any friends (ie not romantic interests) that are women? probably not. but, if you have many, you probably know someone who has had an eating disorder. thats all you need to realize what you said is wrong. bye….. bro

    • January 9, 2013

      Sometimes it’s best to accept what’s happening, keep your silence and move on.

    • nzm
      January 9, 2013

      Or like I asked before, was she always like that (big build)?

      As you personally stated above, if you have had “a thing” for Hope Solo for several years, you would have already known the answer to that question.

      If you had already known who she was, then you would have not had to have gone looking for her name.

      If you had not gone looking for her name, only to be surprised when finding out who she was, you probably wouldn’t have thought about her in such a way.

      If you had not thought about her as you did, you would not have written what you did in here.

      The issue started long before you hit that “Submit Comment” button.

      What I’m trying to say is that commenting online, particularly in a space such as this BFB website, does require some thought processes. It’s one of the reasons why, I believe, we’re all so attracted to being here. The comments, on the whole, are thoughtful, respectful and mindful of others.

      At times when they aren’t, (and it’s easy to have commenter’s remorse after publishing), I love that this space does not resort to the imbecilic name-calling and other less than mature reactions which we see so often in cyber-space.

      But as I said above, it stems from more than what you wrote – it’s a reflection of your thinking and belief in how a woman should look (not manly) and what she should or should not do (hit the gym).

      At least this is how you are now perceived – by some quick comments made with seemingly little thought to the context in which others would take them.

      barca96 – you do have the right to defend what you said, but seriously you have to ask yourself if you phrased your initial comments in the right manner. Obviously you didn’t – for more than 1 member of this community has taken offence at what/how you wrote. And you can keep defending, but in the minds of some of the other members of this website, the damage has already been done. It’s how you choose to deal with it that will make the difference.

      I have no issue with you remarking on Hope Solo’s new physique, but I did take umbrage in you deciding that she “shouldn’t have hit the gym” and equating a muscular body to being more “manly”.

      I can’t demand that you apologise, for an apology can only be given when the apologiser realises that they have goofed and wishes to make amends. And it’s quite possible that you won’t ever see that what you’ve written could be offensive to others.

      What I would request, however, is that future comments are made in this space with full respect to others’ personal choices and raisons d’être.

      That’s not to say we shouldn’t discuss issues on here (where would the world be if we couldn’t comment on Hope Solo’s amazing physique?), but please do think about how we all phrase those comments so they are just comments and not indictments of how we believe that other people should be moulded.

      • January 9, 2013

        What you are missing is, in its essence, this fact:

        The way that an athlete’s body looks and responds to exercise is not the athlete’s choice.

        So Solo hits the gym, and that happens to her. A different athlete, say Alex Morgan, hits the gym with the same intensity, and something different happens to her body.

        A keeper has to defend space with his or her arms and shoulders. This keeps opposing forwards at bay, and enables them to go for balls in tight spaces and contested areas, as well as being able to hold on to a ball when being bumped in the box. Were I a keeper, I would want the biggest, strongest arms and shoulders that I could.

        But here’s something else. Hope Solo isn’t a damsel placed out there for your or any of our amusement or edification. She is an athlete whose body has responded to stress stimulus in its own specific way.

        This debate reminds me of this story, and the comments after it:

      • cliveee
        January 9, 2013

        Cyber education
        *Standing O*
        *Still Standing*

        • January 9, 2013

          As a funny aside, I’ve taken to wearing skirts these days, because a regimen of sprint cycling and heavy lifting have made my legs too big for trousers that aren’t custom-made.

          So my “manly” activity of intense weight training has forced me into a “girly” mode of dress. Now talk to me again about those gender notions, and how we are/aren’t supposed to look?

          • nzm
            January 9, 2013

            Hey – I grew up in a country full of skirt-wearing men.

            You wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in Fiji. 🙂

          • Messiah10
            January 10, 2013

            Kxevin, then you should check out the kilts that this guy in Seattle started. His brand has spread all over the US. He started with Camo Kilts and has produced several other styles. I’m sorry because I don’t have a link or name, but it should be easy to find. I think you’d like them and it may fit your training.

  42. January 9, 2013

    Dear Kxevin / Nzm or other friends

    I wonder if any of you have read the latest blog post from Juan Arango. he has translated a brilliant peice from an Argentine news paper on Messi

    I still find it a bit difficult to understand the political side of it, especially towards the end. Can any of you explain.

    And if this article is true, no wonder Argentina is forming up as a better team under Messi. A person who all thought had no leadership in him.

    • nzm
      January 9, 2013

      Oof – the complexities of Argentine politics! Don’t cry for me, Argentina.

      You’d do well to use Google/Bing/Search-Engine-of-your-choice to explore that further.

      The Kirchnerista movement has its roots in the days of the Peron power house, and is named after the former President Kirchner and his wife – who is the current President – Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

      The current government is considered to be corrupt by around 50-60% of the Argentinean population, and it is truly a country divided between those who support the government (known as Kirchneristas) and those who oppose the current ruling party.

      The Kirchneristas “ultras” are highly political and known for their bully-boy techniques of harassing anyone who speaks out against the government. They will resort to violence to support their stance.

      As you’ll likely know, there is a huge divide between wealthy Argentineans and the poor ones as far as the distribution of wealth is concerned, but what’s new? 🙂 The lootings are happening, not just in Argentina – they’re happening (admittedly in isolated incidents right now), around Europe as well. German press reported suicides happening in Spain because of lack of jobs, but you won’t find that reported in Spanish mainstream papers. If it is, it will be online for about 2 hours before it’s removed. Likewise, Spanish press will report German bad news, but you won’t find it reported in Germany. With riots, it seems that a lot of media place a black-out on reporting these events. For instance, the recent Madrid riots were not reported in Germany, and links to the UK media coverage of the riots were blocked from German internet users. We know because we experienced it for ourselves when I could access the UK article through my Spanish internet connection, but as soon as I activated our German VPN, the link was no longer available.

      The Kirchneristas are known for trying to block the Argentine media from reporting anti-government sentiment, as well as any news reports on actions (such as the rioting mentioned in the article) which may be seen as anti-government.


      In late 2011, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner underwent treatment for thyroid cancer. Messi, together with his foundation, sent a letter to the President, wishing her well and that she recovered to be healthy once again.

      This was seen as Messi being political and pro-Kirchner, which he isn’t. The letter was simply a letter from one human being expressing good wishes to another human – particularly poignant at that time because Tito was undergoing treatment for his gland problem, and the Barca team had experienced immense emotional times with Abidal earlier in the year. However, Messi’s actions added further fuel to the arguments of those Argentines who were already anti-Messi – who looked at Messi being more La Roja than he is La Albiceleste.

      At the end of that article, Tomás Abraham’s statement about Messi being more like Xavi if he was pro-Kirchner is very clever – likening Xavi’s stance on the “pureness’ of football and Xavi being more “political” than Messi, to being more outspoken and taking sides.

      • January 9, 2013

        Thanks nzm, Much appreciate it.
        Latin American news is a rarity in Indian news papers. And I dont browse internet for anything other than football or cinema.
        best wishes

  43. January 9, 2013

    Cavorting ever farther off topic, Lance Armstrong will be having a sit-down interview with the Great and Powerful Oprah on Jan. 17, sources say to confess his rotten little heart out.

    No, I won’t be watching.

    • January 9, 2013

      For me, this is just embarrassing and selfish.

      Deny, deny, deny when he thought it was best for him.

      Admit it now that he thinks it’s best for him.

      He’s had so many chances to stand up, accept that he was wrong, and try to take his mistakes and turn them into something positive. He probably could have turned around and come out as strongly anti-doping and be a poster child for anti-doping sentiments for young people today.

      But no, Armstrong wants to compete in triathlons and if he gets a promise that he won’t be prosecuted, he’ll admit it. Horrible.

      • January 9, 2013

        If he confesses does he have to give all that lawsuit money back? he’s already being sued by several newspapers I think.

        • January 9, 2013

          The real problem for him right now is that he has no source of income. Endorsement deals are all gone, and he can’t compete as a professional athlete in ANY discipline. So this is just another craven, selfish gesture by an athlete whose career is strewn with them.

          It’s one thing to dope. It’s another thing to force everyone else to go down with you. The Guardian had an excellent story on the one Armstrong teammate who chose to quit the sport rather than dope. This was a sport that he loved, that he was good at. And having to make that decision destroyed him to a degree that he just said “Screw it.” He has denied, sued and paved the world with his sanctimony.

          Why not sit down with one of the journalists that he sued, bullied or threatened to have this heart-to-heart? Because he wants maximum attention, as usual. To hell with him.

        • Messiah10
          January 10, 2013

          He IS being sued by the Guardian? in London because they paid over 1 Million British pounds to settle an anti-defamation lawsuit LA brought upon them for an article they ran over 4-5 years ago. Anti-defamation laws are the strongest in Britain. Therefore, news papers, journalists, etc. have to be very careful about what they print. Even if they are quoting or summarizing news from another foreign outlet, which is what LA sued them over. I look forward to see him wincing and giving back the money. The personal ego on someone who was guilty and sued for defamation and was awarded millions because of it strikes me as a seriously sick human being.

    • nzm
      January 9, 2013

      I’d prefer that they interview and pay all those guys who put their careers on the line by blowing the whistle on cheats like Armstrong.

      Stephen Swart – a NZ cyclist who first raised the Armstrong doping concerns – would be one of them.

      Why give the limelight to the cheats and the oppressors?

    • January 9, 2013

      They always come up with hilarious stuff. I liked the fake letter from Xavi they posted a few months back also. The funniest was the ‘article’ they did about Ronaldo missing the team plane from Euro 2012 (which was an obvious joke about the penalty shootout), that got picked up as news by some news organizations.

  44. January 9, 2013

    The piece that fotobirajesh links to above on Messi & Argentina is brilliant. Thanks so much for that!

    • barca96
      January 9, 2013

      Please remove this comment mods. Error.

  45. DumbOx
    January 9, 2013

    Ronaldo’s face mimics McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” photo. It’s hard when the brain tells you something and the body doesn’t follow suit. 🙂

    • DumbOx
      January 9, 2013

      Oops, meant this as a reply to Kxevin’s post re Ronaldo’s congratulatory message to Leo.

  46. barca96
    January 9, 2013


    Thanks for advice and thank you for understanding that I have a right to

    But just because I have a thing for her after seeing her on sports news doesn’t mean I have to know much about her right? I saw her on the telly and thought to myself, “wow, what a pretty lady”. That’s it.

    And it just happened that I saw her again last night and decided to look it up and then to my surprise found out it’s Hope Solo.

    Oh and I didn’t see her in a dress before this Ballon d’Or and I didn’t look up her photos back then to ogle her. I assumed she is retired because she was a presenter and I thought she hit the gym more even after retirement because I don’t think a footballer and a goalkeeper at that need to be so muscular. Usually it’s the retired players that go up to present the awards.

    it’s a reflection of your thinking and belief in how a woman should look (not manly) and what she should or should not do (hit the gym).

    So I have to be attacked just because I have different views than others? And it is just on this matter. I didn’t even call her ugly but I keep on asking my self, what did I say that was so seriously offensive? I didn’t call her ugly, I didn’t call her names. I didn’t kill a cat.

    What kind of world do we live in if someone can’t have different views on things. And I didn’t even insult her for crying out loud.

    Just because I didn’t think that she should’ve hit the gym so much.

    And in this case, you all should write angry letters to millions of people especially in magazines, movie studios etc.

    you do have the right to defend what you said, but seriously you have to ask yourself if you phrased your initial comments in the right manner. Obviously you didn’t – for more than 1 member of this community has taken offence at what/how you wrote. And you can keep defending, but in the minds of some of the other members of this website, the damage has already been done. It’s how you choose to deal with it that will make the difference.

    Just because people disagree with me I should keep quiet and apologize? I believe that we always have to defend ourselves. Ok I’m a pushover but I find the level of backlash too extreme that I have to speak out.

    ooga aaga
    but barca96, what you said was clearly problematic, lots of people called you on it, so it’s not like one person just being arbitrary. and yet you continue to argue that what you said is “ok.” just the fact that it upset several people here means it WASNT “ok.” so, either admit you were wrong, or drop it, because you arent gonna win this one.

    No you see. I’ve seen many other things being said on this space which I thought was more offensive but they weren’t called out but hey, I’m an easy target because I don’t really talk back and my English is limited so I can’t counter eloquently.

    Why I say this? Because sometimes it’s the bigger personas here who comment those more offensive things. But I don’t really mind you see because every one has their own views. I will not comment on it unless it’s extreme.

    That is why I kinda agree with Josep when he mentioned last year or so to have something like no name profile so that we don’t know who is commenting. Because I’ve noticed this since I’ve been a reader since 2009. Just an example. The people here disagree with a smaller fish’ view on something but yet later when a bigger fish says the exact or similar thing, it is viewed differently.
    But it’s not a big deal to me. I like the people here so it’s fine.

    I didn’t want to give out names because I don’t want to hurt any of the bloggers here and I don’t want to have issues with them but I have to do so to spell it out for many of you.

    Kxevin called CR7 Thong Boy and Iniesta Ghostface for quite a number of years many years ago. That didn’t seem to bother anyone.
    Personally I thought it was not a nice way to call them but hey, he has his own reasons for calling them that way and why can’t we have some humor in our life.

    Levon called Hope Solo’s body Chewbacca. It is offensive but it’s a joke. And it’s not like he went up to her and call her that.

    And no it’s not about winning or losing. for me. Why I go to such great lengths is I would really like to know whether you guys are really holy or just acting self righteous.

    I’ve known many of you for many years so it’s good to know each other more. We can have different views on things related on football or political or whatever but a friend is a friend.

    i wonder where they get these messages that if they lift weights, they wont look good to men…oh yeah, people like you.

    See. Why can’t you respect my views now? Why you treat me like I’m some kind of evil guy? I didn’t even insult her or did anything to harm her you know. Please realize that.

    no dude, this IS something to be serious about. you say ridiculous things, people are going to call you on it

    Say ridiculous things like what? Please don’t act like you don’t know anyone around you who don’t judge people’s looks. I know you don’t but others do and there is a high chance that the people you love and are close to you do too. So please don’t act like I’m one of the few.

    let me ask you: do you have any friends (ie not romantic interests) that are women? probably not. but, if you have many, you probably know someone who has had an eating disorder. thats all you need to realize what you said is wrong

    See now you again getting personal with me. What did I do to you?

    Why would you assume I do not have female friend? Do you even know me? Sigh….

    See what you just did there? You judged me. Without even knowing me. It’s not judging from looks but judging from the few words I’ve said.

    And you attacked me personally. Nobody called you out for that. I am a minority here. I don’t blame or have any grudges for that. Because it is a normal thing. It is not right but people do prefer not to stand up for the minority. The number of people doing the good deed is much less than the people who just go by their lives. I too fall in the latter category. I am not going act all holy and say that I fight for the minority.

    It’s a normal thing. I am not ashamed to admit it even though I’m embarrassed by it.

    Scenario 1.
    How many people when driving stop by the road side to help the unfortunate person with a broken down car?
    Not many. Only a few.

    Scenario 2.
    How many people dare to speak up to their superiors in the workplace (face to face of course)?

    How many people then dare to take sides with the the inferior person?

    By taking side with the inferior worker and in turn have the possibility be on the bad books of the superiors. So many will just stay in silence even though they do agree with the rebel.

    Btw I don’t know anyone with an eating disorder. I do know a few models and even an ex of mine is a model. Didn’t need to resort to those measures either. So I can’t really relate on that subject.

    Sometimes it’s best to accept what’s happening, keep your silence and move on

    I accepted that I may have said something wrong and I have offended many simply for having different views on Hope Solo’s body and all woman in general. I didn’t insult her though.

    What I do not accept is that the level of criticism I’m getting for sharing my views. I am quiet a shy person people say but I don’t lie and I will tell you the truth. Okay most of the people here have different views on woman. They may think so but the people close to them and the people they love most likely have the same views as me.

    Those were some pretty degrading comments.

    Please state which comment was degrading.


    What offended me was your casual assumption that women “should” be more conscious of what men might potentially think of their bodies (the “male gaze”) than their own needs and desires for fitness. It’s an idea that is constantly perpetuated in the media and popular culture, and women and girls are bombarded with it.

    To you Blitzen and anyone here who disagreed with me, please ask your brother, male friends etc if they all wouldn’t comment on her body?

    It smells like self righteous to me. I call it what it is. And I didn’t even insult her.

    Please don’t act like your male friends wouldn’t comment on her body. Yes, it is beautiful to some but most of them would still make a comment.

    And in this case many of you would have issues with the print media like magazines, Donald Trump and his beauty pageants, movie studios etc.

    I’ve lived in many countries thus have many friends from many countries in school and work and this is in Europe, Asia-China, South East Asia and Australia. So I don’t think my views are extreme because I’ve never met anyone who don’t judge a woman or anyone for that matter. So I can’t really say that I am just the odd one out or I’m the only one or one of the few.

    We all judge people whether you want to admit it or not.

    But please don’t disparage what a woman looks like just because she’s not your cup of tea.

    I agree with you other points except this part. Did what I say above really a disparaging? My English is limited so I had to look it up and here is what I found;

    Regard or represent as being of little worth.
    depreciate – belittle – decry – underestimate

    Please point out which one of my comment was a disparaging remark. Please do.

    And next time there is another disparaging remark, I hope you all will react the same way because I sure have seen many just pass under the bridge before this.

    • January 9, 2013

      It sounds like you are purposefully being dense. NZM and Blitzen have clearly outlined what exactly it was that you said that was offensive. And it’s not just to women, it’s offensive to me as a man. It’s perpetuating a negative self image for females, in a way that has caused numerous girls to go through eating disorders, depression, etc. It’s fine to have an opinion, but you should also have the responsibility and self awareness to understand when your opinion contributes towards a negative situation in society.

      And what is disparaging? Telling a woman she doesn’t look like a woman is plenty disparaging to me.

      The only one acting self righteous here is you.

      • January 9, 2013

        barca96, this is what people are reacting to:

        But man… Her body is even big for a man. I had a body like that. Geez. Never noticed before she had a body that big. Her face is feminine but her body is manly. She shouldn’t have hit the gym.

        By any definition, that is disparaging. Why? You are contending that her body is “manly” because it doesn’t fit your notion of what a woman should look like, a notion that does indeed spawn eating disorders, etc, etc.

        Further, it is belittling in that because she has muscles, she is “manly,” when she is in fact a strong, beautiful woman. Yet you persist in trying to parse your away around a statement that should instead have been apologized for.

        Yes, I used to call Ronaldo Thong Boy, because of the funny way that he stands before taking free kicks. And yes, I nicknamed Iniesta Ghostface, short for Ghostface Killah (Wu-Tang Clan rapper), because he is pale.

        Both of those nicknames are humorous, and neither casts any aspersions on their conformity to an outmoded and repressive standard of beauty. People have repeatedly tried to make that point clear. Hopefully my excerpting of your comment and the direct reactions to it will make it clearer.

  47. mom4
    January 9, 2013

    OK…so we have a game coming up tomorrow. And while we will never agree upon the importance of the CdR, we can all agree upon one thing:
    It’s our team, it has a game, and it’s time to support our guys.

    Our squad according to barcastuff:

    [1/2] Squad for game against Cordoba tomorrow: Valdes, Pinto, Montoya, Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Bartra, Adriano, Alba #fcblive

    [2/2] Squad for Cordoba game: Busquets, Song, Dos Santos, Thiago, Sergi Roberto, Cesc, Alexis, Messi, Villa, Tello #fcblive

    And some very important people being rested:

    Pique, Xavi, Iniesta, and Pedro

    • mom4
      January 9, 2013

      yet apparently so hard for me to type the word “someone” 🙁

      • mom4
        January 9, 2013

        Blitzen, I’ve been lurking at barcastuff for 2 years now. One hour before every game I’m checking every couple of minutes to find the lineup. They put evrything in one place so I can be lazy and not go hunting for info. I’m all ’bout lazy!

        Hubby with actual twiiter acct (he never tweets just follows) will come home and say did you hear such and such about so and so and I’ll be like “Hon, I saw that hours ago on barcastuff.”

        One day I’ll come hunting down your account to lurk! 😈

        • January 9, 2013

          Please do. You might enjoy my ramblings so much you are moved to sign & follow me. Today I asked the important question, “If our players were breakfast cereals, which cereals would they be?”

          (Puyol was Cap’n CRUNCH)

          My twitter handle is @blitzen13

          • January 9, 2013

            No, no, no.

            Xavi is Trix!

            Iniesta I had as Cream of Wheat, but I did consider Boo Berry.

            The best of the rest:

            Special PK
            Leo – Goalden Grahams
            Alba – Racing Bran
            Pedro – Cheerios
            Masche – AlphaMaleBits
            Jordi Roura (wearing a Quaker hat) – porridge
            Tito – definitely needs some All Bran
            Cruyff – Total, of course
            Dani Alves – Froot Loops

          • bhed
            January 9, 2013

            No a player, but that one ref (you know the one) is definitely Count Chocula.

  48. K_legit in Oz
    January 9, 2013

    The conversation above with players compared to cereal almost seems to come straight out of a post-bowl smoking, advent of the munchies conversation! 😀

  49. andrecito
    January 9, 2013

    haha..busquets=frosted, crisp(y) and sweet…
    also, i can just imagine him saying..theeeeeey’re great!

  50. hammeronmessi
    January 10, 2013

    But man… Her body is even big for a man. I had a body like that. Geez. Never noticed before she had a body that big. Her face is feminine but her body is manly. She shouldn’t have hit the gym.

    It was his thought and IMO Barca 96 was politically incorrect to express his thought.not the right thing to express that thought but kudos to him for that.the cultural difference also played a part IMO.the most important word in that excerpt is “GEEZ”.it was af she had commited a crime.

    he didnt insult her?did he?I found it a little bit offensive,just bout that but the amount of opposition he faced reminded me of 2 events.

    I was praising one of Linda’s articles.said she was the best and while Kxebim’s articles were also great sometimes those were too verbose for my liking but jokingly said those help me for my GRE exam.all of a sudden another esteem member had a problem with me regarding that comment(not Kxevin)saying i should not dis respect Kxevin.he interprets it differently ,i tried but failed to make HIM UNDERSATND

    and there is always the incident of RAMZI.

    the tolerance level now a days is set in a low position in this place.

    anyway that’s my 2 cents and as someone says beauty is in the eye of the beholder

    • January 10, 2013

      My view of it is that people have become more comfortable with speaking up about a potentially complex situation. I think back to the early days, when a couple of commenters made references to Guardiola’s rumored sexuality in a veiled (and not-so-veiled) way. The situation was such that nobody really felt that compelled to call the posters out on it.

      With familiarity and increasing comfort comes an attendant lack of that nervousness. If barca96’s opinion is valid, so are the reactions to it, yes? “Tolerance” and its presence or absence are often misconstrued to mean “goes with my worldview.” But tolerance goes both ways. If there is to be tolerance for one view, there should also be tolerance for a reaction to that view.

      The “Ramzi situation” was something entirely different.

      As the tone and familiarity of the space has changed, so has the space. In part, people didn’t express comments such as the one that got some folks fired up. So there is that, as well.

  51. Gogah
    January 10, 2013

    As Hunter points out, Messi’s 4th got me also thinking about what the criteria should be for the Ballon D’Or. You just cant say that its for the best player because that is hard to measure, promotes individualism and may become predictable (like the messi case)
    An easy solution is to say that it goes to the most valuable / best player in the most successful team of that year.
    By that measure the 2010 prize should have gone to Xavi (WC being the most important competition that year) and the 2012 prize should have gone to Iniesta (being the most impressive player in the spain team that won the Euro. An argument could be made that the CL is equally or more important, but since Chelsea had a freak / unconvincing victory with really no standout players, Iniesta is an easy choice)
    By that measure the Ballon D’or winners in recent years would have looked like this..

    ’08 – Ronaldo
    ’09 – Messi
    ’10 – Xavi
    ’11 – Messi
    ’12 – Iniesta

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