Exile in Batville

Ah, Spain … land of sunshine, serrano ham and guilt-free smoking … as well as Felliniesque personal interactions, Kafkaesque bureaucracies and   Spielbergian cucarachas. At first, you fill your digital camera with images of wedding-cake cathedrals and futuristic Calatrava bridges; later, you seethe as yet another technicolor-haired widow elbows her way in front of you in line; and finally, you, too, are packing in a four-course meal at 2 p.m. and telling (and being told by) total strangers ‘vete a la mierda’ without a second thought.

So it’s Silly Season again (or at least until next week or so). Over the next few posts I’ll bring some Spanish Silliness to BFB. No in-depth coverage, no gotcha! interviews, no perceptive insights. Promise. Just few lighthearted observations from my recent travels to Batville And Back.

Silliest Soccer Headline: ‘Spain Smells Like Messi’

‘España no huele a ajo, sino a Messi’ (Spain doesn’t smell like garlic, it smells like Messi’); text selected and translated from an interview with Ann Gottlieb, world-renown professional perfumist, in ABC 17 June 2010.

ABC:    ‘The intellectual Victoria Beckham has said that Spain smells like garlic. Have you detected anything like this here?

Gottlieb: Absolutely not. To say that Spain smells like garlic is neither physically possible nor true. I can’t imagine what she was thinking about when she said that.

ABC: So, what does Spain smell like?

Gottlieb: Like Messi!

ABC: Are you referring to the soccer player? After or before the game? Because it really wouldn’t be the same …

Gottlieb: I mean Messi as an icon at the top of his game, and I can imagine a Messi fragrance that would be deep, rich and warm, with a spark of congeniality. Memorable!

Silliest Soccer Sighting: The Eurocup

Imagine walking out of your rented flat in a mixed-use building, one use of which you strongly suspect to be of ill repute … past the Chinatown grocers, overstuffed booksellers and sex-shop parlors … to the Art Nouveau Estació del Nord where your train-crazed sons insist you breakfast …  and seeing this in the parking lot:

Well, this certainly seems soccer-related, so you pause for a moment and see a small press corps surrounding a rotund balding person, so you take a picture of him too:

(You later identify this person as Valencia CF’s former footballer and current sports director, Fernando Gómez)

And then since nothing else is really going on you start to wander towards the depot when you spot something shiny on a little folding table next to the bus. There doesn’t seem to be any security besides a guy standing there looking bored, and when you nudge your four-year old towards the silver he just shrugs so you take another picture (four-year old edited out in order to protect the mischievous but innocent):

Silliest Soccer Proposal: 600K a Head

I asked the Hunky Soccer Husband which was more important to a Spaniard in a World Cup year: his club or the national team? He replied: ‘The club, because the national team never makes it to the quarterfinals anyway’. This can’t-do approach is quite Spanish in its humility (compare, for instance, the plucky gumption of the underdog Superbowl Saints’ Who Dat? versus the fatalist Deixem la pell [We’ll do the best we can!] of Champions semifinalist Barça). The June issue of Ronda, Iberian Airlines’ in-flight magazine, contains an interview with Xavi Hernández in which the mundialista midfielder expresses pretty much the same idea: ‘It’s nice to be a favored team this year, but historically we never seem to get very far’.

So the higher-ups at the Selección have come up with a special pick-me-up: 600,000 euros for every member of La Roja if Casillas lifts the Cup. This arose as a subject for debate on ‘La noche en 24 horas’ with Vicente Vallés on Televisión Española (TVE). It’s kind of a CNN ‘Situation Room’-like program, except with a more charismatic anchor, less seizure-producing graphics and viewer messages via Facebook read live on-air. Here are some of my favorite responses from the Roja faithful:

It’s an outrage when the country faces economic catastrophe!

Football is a world unto itself, separate from national economic affairs.

I hope we don’t win the World Cup, it would be very expensive.

And:

They should all be satisfied with a good jabungo.

Nothing silly ’bout that!

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Written by:

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

156 Comments

  1. vicsoc8
    June 8, 2010

    Ahhhh. This post is refreshing like a cool gin and tonic on a hot southern summer day.

  2. ballbeav
    June 8, 2010

    swoon!

  3. ballbeav
    June 8, 2010

    how could this post get hectored after <24 hours? luckily i just discovered that all of the posts she has authored (since she became a member of the 'team') are viewable by clicking on her name.

    • ballbeav
      June 8, 2010

      oops, my bad, i thought soccermom had been hectored, and she hadnt. all is well. ill stop posting now.

    • June 8, 2010

      But it will be superseded with in 24 hours. Worry not about that. There is much to discuss.

    • Ciaran
      June 8, 2010

      Where the f*** is hector anyway?
      I haven’t seen a post from him in ages

    • Kxevin
      June 8, 2010

      Question of the day, Ciaran. Nobody knows.

  4. Kxevin
    June 8, 2010

    Bset Barca blog on the Web, beeyotches! Read it and weep. Between authors and the commenting family, we freakin’ rule.

    Nice one, SoMa!

    • Vj
      June 8, 2010

      Its the bsetest.. SoMa, Kxevin, Hector, Luke and GirlZilla FTW!!

    • Kari
      June 8, 2010

      Now, now V.J. Everyone is susceptible to typos. Even journalists 😀

    • ballbeav
      June 8, 2010

      best FUTBOL blog, period, full stop (as the kxev likes to say).

  5. Kxevin
    June 8, 2010

    15K fine for Guardiola from the competition committee.

    Pedro will be renewed and sweetened through 2015.

    Thiago is on track to get done very soon.

    Alves and Keita will be renewed and sweetened.

    Dmitri Seluk is still pond scum, who might have screwed his player, randy sailor conga line style

    • Luke
      June 8, 2010

      15K for what?

    • Jnice
      June 8, 2010

      Calling Clos Gomez and his assistant liars after they clearly fabricated statements by Pep in the match report. There was video showing that Pep did not say what they claimed he did and he obviously took issue with that.

  6. Euler
    June 8, 2010

    ABC: So, what does Spain smell like?

    Gottlieb: Like Messi!

    What’s so great about this exchange, is how it captures so much of the ridiculous nature of how football is covered by the international media. It’s like a carnival of sorts.

    There’s a certain unvarnished quality to it. Like it’s some big carnival that’s going on outside of the conventions of the polished world of PR consultants that dominate so many other professional sports and industries.

    Take a guy like Seluk – he was made to be part of the carnival. You wouldn’t see that kind of guy in too many other businesses. Most agents in other sports are way too polished and tactful.

    Spain smells like Messi. It’s just ripe for satire. Nicely done SoMa. You captured the carnival in microcosm!

  7. Jnice
    June 8, 2010

    Great post, SoMa. This is definitely the best Barca Blog on the web, Kxevin.

    Spain v. Poland friendly in 15 minutes. Starting lineup for Spain: Casillas; Arbeloa, Puyol, Piqué, Capdevila; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso; Silva, Xavi, Iniesta; y Villa.

    Where you at, Kari?!

    • vicsoc8
      June 8, 2010

      That looks suspiciously like a starting lineup against tougher teams.

    • Kari
      June 8, 2010

      Lost in the awesomeness that is SoMa; that’s where I am 😀

      All the Barca boys, except Pedro!(who is replaced by Silva so it balances out 😛 ) starting the match?!

      Vincent of the Forest, what the?

    • Jnice
      June 8, 2010

      Let’s hope for no injuries.

    • Euler
      June 8, 2010

      It’s interesting to see them continue to play this two holding midfielder alignment. I can understand that Torres might not be ready yet, but if they want to play Villa and Torres together, it’s going to be a significant tactical switch between what they are doing in the friendlies. The squad has played together for a long time so perhaps it’s not an issue. But this is very different from how they played in Euro 2008, even after villa got injured.

  8. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Spain already have a corner (which they missed). It looks like they mean business, but Poland didn’t make the WC, right? Does that mean that Del Bosque really was unhappy we the last outings or does he want to field what looks like the starting line-up for the first game…

  9. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    find your links here:

    *http://www.myp2p.eu/broadcast.php?matchid=77883&part=sports

    I’m watching this one; in Spanish and ustream. It lags every now and then but not for very long. Quality is pretty good. 7.5-8.0/10

    *http://footballstreams.tv/watch_1.php

  10. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Whoa, whoa! Xaviniesta is in full force today! Silva’s also going in. Aww baby! 🙂

  11. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Uff! Iniesta is on fire, but his passing is still off. If he found a streaking Silva, it probably would have been 1-0.

  12. June 8, 2010

    Wow everyone in Spains starting 11 looks good….except Biscuts of course, its there anyway we can paint Yaya brown??

  13. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! VILLA!! INIESTA WHAT A PAAAAAAAAASS!!

  14. June 8, 2010

    Goal Villa from Iniesta boIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

  15. jordi™
    June 8, 2010

    wow great move with andres and villa. gol.

  16. Jnice
    June 8, 2010

    Barca connection. Let’s go.

  17. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Spain on the attack again! Didn’t I say Andres was on fire?! Whoa! It was a Xavi-Iniesta-Villa combo!

  18. Jnice
    June 8, 2010

    OMG!

  19. jordi™
    June 8, 2010

    oh my fuck.GOLAZO

  20. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    GOOOOOOOOOOOL!!! INIESTA AND SILVA!!!

    SOMEONE SAVE ME!!! I THINK I’M GOING TO DIE OUT OF SHEER OMG-NESS HERE!

  21. jordi™
    June 8, 2010

    I DIED/=.That should be illegal

  22. June 8, 2010

    Its not fair how good they are seriously, Iniesta is a beast

  23. Corrine
    June 8, 2010

    INIESTA ON ALL CYLINDERS AHHHHHHHHH

    sooo many barca players

  24. Luke
    June 8, 2010

    Iniesta and Xavi, if they play like this, are unstoppable, period. Excellent runs and movements by others, but this has been Xavieniesta thus far.

  25. Tajh
    June 8, 2010

    English Stream Spain’s game here *http://www.atdhe.net/20086/watch-spain-vs-poland

    • Kari
      June 8, 2010

      Muchas gracias, Tajh!

  26. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Villa’s been offside a couple of times now, and he seems a little off today, but his movement has been good me thinks. He’s 6 goals away from Raul now already! Vamos Villa!

    It’s really like watch Barca-lite right now… 😀

    • Jnice
      June 8, 2010

      Yeah, he has been tireless. He is a just a bit off, he’ll get another.

  27. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    That second goal was so badass they didn’t or rather couldn’t show a replay…

  28. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Xavi and Villa are trying to connect but the link hasn’t been there. They’re getting closer and closer though…

  29. y2k156
    June 8, 2010

    In this form, i would not bet against Iniesta or Xavi getting goldan ball in WC. Iniesta has been just fantastic. His getting injured might help Spain in WC. Spain, along with Holland, are my second favorites.

  30. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Whoa, Casillas with an acrobatic save. That’s Spain’s own fault though. They seemed to have taken their petal off the gas (albeit understandably).

    One word for the Spanish team this WC: FOCUS.

    • Kari
      June 8, 2010

      Umm, okay. That made about zero sense. I meant took their FOOT of the gas.

      Apologies to those learning English, the issue was me, not you. 😛

  31. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Silva-Iniesta combo again?! Do they want me to die early or something?!?!

    • Jnice
      June 8, 2010

      Haha.

  32. Hilal
    June 8, 2010

    Wow. I almost forget how unstoppable XaviIniesta are. IT is almost unfair when they are both on form. Iniesta it seems just gets better and better, which is a scary thought. The thought of Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Messi and Ibra next year is actually making me froth at the mouth! Cesc who? I honestly dont see the need for him.

  33. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    So, umm, do you guys now understand the awesomeness that is Silva?

    Villa offside agaiin.

  34. Hilal
    June 8, 2010

    One thing, all the Ibra bashers need to take note how many times Villa has been offside this game. Its not as easy as you think…

    • Kari
      June 8, 2010

      In Villa’s defense, he’s usually deadly at this kinds of things. Still, point proven. Ibra haters, take heed. 😀

    • ballbeav
      June 8, 2010

      well, it’s also the nature of the offsides. mistiming a run is one thing. being lazy and not getting back onside after the defense pulls up is another. ibra was guilty of the latter time and time again. just sayin.

    • ElShowDeJason
      June 8, 2010

      Midfielders are guilty of not playing the ball on time.

  35. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Poland miscommunication leads to another Spanish corner.

    It’s understandable. They’ve been killed–Ghostface-style.

  36. June 8, 2010

    Spain are so fluid, there is only 1 man up from when the whistle blows, aside from that 3-4 players are playing high!

  37. jordi™
    June 8, 2010

    wonder who don pedro is replacing

    • Kari
      June 8, 2010

      Well, Iniesta was on the sideline a little earlier? Maybe Del Bosque’s going to put him under cotton wool early?

    • jordi™
      June 8, 2010

      damn its san andres 🙁

  38. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Ohh, Andres. How we’ve missed you.

    EE attack on Puyol as Xabi Alonso inadvertantly catches Puyol with his stud in a failed sliding tackle.

    Poland FK.

    OMGGGGGGG! P!!!!!!!!! Getting ready? Is Andres okay?!

  39. Jnice
    June 8, 2010

    Pedro? Coming on for whom? My bet is Iniesta.

  40. June 8, 2010

    And by the way, Nani was ruled out of the WC today, bad collar bone.

  41. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    It is Andres! Is there an injury?!

  42. Jnice
    June 8, 2010

    I think he’s okay, just precautionary. He didn’t look upset.

    • Kari
      June 8, 2010

      It looks like you’re right. He was just laughing with VV.

  43. Euler
    June 8, 2010

    Wow. I almost forget how unstoppable XaviIniesta are. IT is almost unfair when they are both on form.

    I was thinking the same. It’s remarkable the collective impact they have together.

    It really puts into perspective how successful Barca’s season was.

    What other team can afford to lose one of the 10 finest players in the world for much of the season and still come close to reaching the CL finals and win their league with a record point total?

  44. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    Man, Pedro! has a crazy workrate. Say what you want about him running like a headless chicken–I love it; it’s just insane how much he runs and pressures, that guy.

  45. Corrine
    June 8, 2010

    my commentator’s most used line so far this match:

    “fuera de juego de villa”

  46. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    When Villa finally gets his timing right, Poland are fuc**d.

    • Jnice
      June 8, 2010

      Haha

  47. Kari
    June 8, 2010

    HT

    Spain 2 – 0 Poland

    Goals: The Davids (just kill me now.)

    Star of the match (yeah, match not half): Andres Iniesta!

    Say what people like about Ibra and Busi or whatever; but the reason we didn’t win the treble was the absence of Iniesta. Seeing them, Xaviniesta, now, it doesn’t matter who we have upfront. With Messi along side them making up the Magical Midgets, we’d have killed major arse…But it’s easy to say that in retrospect.

    • Kari
      June 8, 2010

      *kicked not killed. Ghostface Killa, what are you doing to me?! 🙂

    • Hilal
      June 8, 2010

      EXACTLY! It puts into perspective how well we actually did this season considering the loss of such a high impact player. Lets not forget he made the diff last season vs Chelsea. It is a lot easier to defend against just Xavi than it is to defend against them both. Its a shame that so many Barca fans dont appreciate just how well we did this year.

  48. jordi™
    June 8, 2010

    Just 40 minutes or even half hour of andres in each leg against inter and we’d have been in the final 🙁

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