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

esptito

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.

espthiago

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.

espbarca

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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.

191 Comments

  1. K_legit in Oz
    January 8, 2013

    That Hope Solo is quite the looker!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    Here
    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

      barca96,

      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.

  4. 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:

      http://shine.yahoo.com/photos/muscle-beauty-regimens-female-bodybuilders-slideshow/-photo-2565137-212500104.html

    • cliveee
      January 9, 2013

      Cyber education
      *Applause*
      *Standing O*
      *Hats-off*
      *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.

  5. January 9, 2013

    Is Hope Solo Han Solo’s daughter?!?

  6. 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
    http://simplyfutbol.com/2013/01/lionel-messi-a-dwarf-in-k-argentina/

    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

    • January 9, 2013

      Wow this article blocking thing, I thought that sort of thing only happened in China!

  7. 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?

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 9, 2013

      Hilarious!!!

    • 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.

  8. Manish
    January 9, 2013

    What a brilliant article…

  9. January 9, 2013

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

  10. barca96
    January 9, 2013
    • barca96
      January 9, 2013

      Please remove this comment mods. Error.

  11. 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.

  12. barca96
    January 9, 2013

    NZM

    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.

    Ekylva
    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.

    Xingxian
    Those were some pretty degrading comments.

    Please state which comment was degrading.

    Blitzen

    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;

    dis•par•age
    /diˈsparij/
    Verb
    Regard or represent as being of little worth.
    Synonyms
    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.

  13. 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

  14. mom4
    January 9, 2013

    Sweet, sweet picture:

    http://twitpic.com/btu8kz
    courtesy of barcastuff

    It’s so easy to bring joy to somemone.

    • mom4
      January 9, 2013

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

    • January 9, 2013

      Ah HA! Caught you lurking on twitter! 😛

    • 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

    • January 9, 2013

      Oh, and Pepe is Kix.

    • bhed
      January 9, 2013

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

  15. 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! 😀

  16. andrecito
    January 9, 2013

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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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