The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Lately we’ve talked about Diwali, Eid, Thanksgiving, now Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s and somewhere in there, I’m sure, the pagan Winter Solstice. The holidays… when coworkers upshift their dynamic from ‘dysfunctional’ to ‘delusional’, when parents push their children onto the laps of strange old men and, for us culés, the first Clásico.  Now, SoMa is not particularly religious, but any time of year that features food, décor and/or buying her presents she is too lazy or cheap to buy for herself lifts her spirits. So she dedicates this Special Holiday post to the BFB faithful.

Thanksgiving Thanks

During the holidays it is very important to be grateful for the crappy cookies your senile neighbor brought over, for the lousy plastic toy when your brother got the super-cool, real-looking version, and the fact that Dad will probably not pass out until all of your relatives have gone home. So here are some things that I’m grateful for this season:

1. GolTV’s ‘balanced’ budget.

GolTV might be available in high-definition, but their budget is still very much lo-fi. This means that GolTV overspent on El Clásico like Fiorentino Pérez on the ‘International Male’ catalogue (Soccer Star Edition). As a result, they put the match on constant replay, compress it into an hour-spot summary, and review the highlights during the otherwise completely lame ‘La Liga 360’ program. Even post-Osasuna, GolTV gives the gift that keeps on giving!

2. Minutes 80 – 93 of El Clásico.

Whenever I catch an El Clásico replay on GolTV (or Fox Sports en Español, or ESPN Deportes or Argentina’s TyC), it’s always well into the second half. Normally, this is a bummer, since all goals are scored and all cards are given and all suspense has petered out. But Jeffren’s goal, the Manita mambo and the Ramos Rumble all in the final minutes mean that I can still settle in at Xavi’s substitution for some serious soccer action.

3. My VCR

Our recording device is old school. But not in a cool way, like Coltrane on vinyl. No, I mean old, like the remote doesn’t work and it really is hard to set and you have to select ‘slow play’ or else you will wind up with 60 minutes of El Clásico and 30 minutes of husband threatening you with divorce because he cannot see the end of El Clásico. But it is so satisfying to hear the bobbin turn while you rewind and forward and rewind and forward to see CRo & Co. get taken off the ball by Xaviniesta Inc. over and over and over…

Christmas Wish-List

During the holidays, once you are grateful enough for what you have you can forget about all that and go about pining for what you have not. So here is SoMa’s get-me list:

1. El Clásico clips set to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s ‘Carol of the Bells’.

In general, the taconazo leaves me colder than when I sneak cigarettes on my porch in a holiday stress-induced nicfit. It brings back bittersweet memories of a certain Swede. But those Bar­­ça boys made a believer out of me. And if I am going to have to listen to the Latter Day Saints chime ‘ding dong’ in the drugstore while I search for a replacement set of cheapo Chinese Christmas lights, I want to be able to picture those picture-perfect tiki-taka passes.

2. Dani Alves signs the damn contract already.

Santa baby, hurry down the chimney with a fat contract for my Brazilian back, because I’ll be having a blue (whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo) Christmas without him. Don’t let Dani leave the building!

3. My son gets picked to go on the field with the team for the pre-game picture.

What could make a mother more proud than seeing her school-age son clinging shyly to the hand of a soccer superstar as they stroll out onto a roaring Camp Nou pitch? Especially because then she can pull rank as a parent and hip-check the child out of the way in the stadium tunnel and get her face out there, too. Look out, Jimmy Jump, I’m going viral!

New Year’s Resolutions

1. To be gracious

Was it an embarassment of soccer riches? Or the embarassment of not being rich enough? In any case, Spain and Portugal are out for hosting the upcoming World Cups, Russia and Qatar in. Now, we Americans old enough to remember Ronnie forget who he was remember Russia. The first evil empire, and what not. And for all you poli-sci majors, they’re o.k. now. They’re even mad at us for being mean to them when they totally thought we were BFFs (Vladmir, it was Hillary! I had nothing to do with that cable!)

But Qatar I’m not sure about, except that it is not oatmeal or those conscientious objector-types that I always confuse with the Amish. I’m pretty sure it’s a country in the Middle East, and I’m pretty sure they are sitting on gas and oil, and I’m pretty sure that on top of that they’ve built a first-class, kick-ass shopping mall. And for the sake of global sportsmanship, I resolve not to have this photo remind me of so many elementary-school Christmas pageants:

2. To be charitable

How catty of me, to wonder if Spanish soccer WAGS are just in it for fame and fortune. Sara Carbonero is clearly a journalistic professional who shares a deep spiritual and sporting connection with Iker. Piqué must really, really like that ‘Waka Waka’ song. And why shouldn’t Puyi get a post-match lockerroom visit from somebody younger than Sofia of Greece? They probably shared intense stares over the Paul Mitchell counter at El Corte Inglés. I resolve to be more generous towards human beings of my gender, and not suspect mercenary motives. Bikini babes have feelings, too! It’s just not feminist.

3. To remember that the holidays are magical for children

Thus I resolve to not shout ‘Forza!’ when my son’s kindergarten soccer team, dominated by little girls named Sara and Rachel, decide that they want to call themselves the ‘Dolphin Puppies’. There is nothing wrong or lame or unsporting about liking soccer and dolphins and puppies. Maybe my example of graciousness will also persuade the Hunky Soccer Husband to not ricochet the ball off the sideline in a sad display of his own glory days on the plaza and intimidate the high school girl who’s coaching because she ‘loves kids’. Everyone hates a too-involved sports parent.

Happy Holidays!

Categorized as Barcelona

By SoccerMom

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


  1. Love wishes 1&2. My sons are too old for 3 so that’s out.

    #1—El Clásico clips set to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s ‘Carol of the Bells’. PLEASE can one of you talented computer people do this?

    1. just discovered with much delight that by clicking on SoMa’s name I can access a list of all her writings. ahhhhh

  2. I guess for us Chrismas is early. First the Classico, than the ballon d’or nominations. Now only the neighbours remain. How i want to beat them!

  3. LOCKOUT!!!!

    That’s right, suckas! All three Ballon d’Or finalists: Xavi, Messi, Iniesta are all ours. No Sneijder, just us. By the by, they are listed in my preferred order of finish.

    p.s. Baby Kxevin’s calling BS on Kwanzaa.

    1. Whaaaaat? You mean Kwanzaa isn’t an ancient celebration of your African roots with deep cultural meaning? 😉

  4. Nice post.

    Question for NYC people — does anyone know of a place in the city that sells SPORT or EMD?

  5. it’s official now..
    Barcelona trio Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi are the final three in the running for the FIFA Ballon D’Or.

    I really hope xavi could take it as he don’t have a lot of time remaining in his career, although I think Iniesta will take it.

  6. Yes!Xavi deserve this!!I believe is the first time that the 3 players are from the academy of a team eh?

    1. I’m glad he isn’t thinking about Revenge. It’s not an important match. Youngsters given some minutes while the starters rest.

  7. My 2 Cents about the Ballon d’Or :

    Intermilan’s Trophies aren’t because of Snejider. They won everything as a whole team. Milito’s Clinical finishing, Eto’s Devotion on the right flank to defend and assist in Attack, Samuel and Lucio keeping things tight at the back. Not one brilliant player, but a good team.

    I think Milito is more deserving than Snejider. He scored in the final of every competition (Winning Goal against Siena on the last day.)

    – Messi’s 47 goal tally proves he was the best individual player last season.

    – Xavi’s consistency with Barca and Spain.

    – Iniesta’s WC winning goal and magnificent performance throughout.

    ** WC is not a 7 match competition. It’s the world’s biggest and most important Sporting event where Legends are made.

  8. I’ll be frank. I don’t think Iniesta deserves to be ahead of Sneijder in the ranking. Let’s face it he was pretty much injured during the whole year. My list would be:


    Just my 5 cents.

    1. I think you’re right, as long as Balon d’or takes into account:
      most recent full season + world cup
      Sneijder has a good argument between Italian treble & WC finals to at least be a finalist.

    2. Well sneijder isnt on his level so its moot 😀

      But really Milito Samuel, Lucio, Julio Cesar and Cambiasso were far more important to preventing us from beating them.This isnt even my bias against his madridista history talking.

  9. Dani Alves on his contract:

    “We have much room in our discussions, and I still have a year and a half to go on my current deal. I’ve got a value, and I deserve it, but there is no doubt what my preference is – I will fight to stay here, at Barcelona.”

    1. In other contract news, Guardiola demanded that the club open renewal talks with Eric Abidal, who is on record as wanting to retire with the club. The idea is to secure him through 2013, according to EMD.

  10. Excellent on Pep & the Madrid hatchet job on him. (unfortunately in Spanish)



    Xavi WINS! Iniesta second, Messi third! Barca sweep!! Eat it, Sneijder <–He was so confident he was going to win. AND NO THONG BOY IN SIGHT.

    Wow, what news to start my day!

    (I feel kinda bad for Forlan, but if he's the Top 10, I'll be happy!)

  12. So when’s the ceremony..Jan 10th?

    I dunno why the EE fans will be peeved about this..they should be happy that one of their ‘rejects’ win the damn thing

  13. From the Omniscient barcastuff:
    Only Kopa (56-59) and Messi (07-10) have been in the Ballon d’Or’s top-3 for 4 consecutives years

  14. All three of these guys have spent almost their entire lives playing for Barcelona. They’re like Jedi Knights or something, selected from a young age to join La Masia, where they would be trained to uphold peace and justice in Spanish football.

  15. Okay, so no-one’s won it yet. I forgot it’s the FIFA Ballon d’Or this year.

    So long as Xavi wins, the order Andres and Leo come in doesn’t really matter (personally, I’d want 2. Messi, 3. Iniesta but the reverse is okay too.) I’m just so happy this year it’s the Ballon d’Blaugrana!

  16. “IS says:
    December 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm
    Commentators and journalists alike have been comfortable referring to our football as orgasmic… I hope that doesn’t make us the ‘wet dream team’… :s”

    Hahahahah. I loved this post yesterday.

    I follow @realmadridtalk and he’s so ugh. Yesterday he claimed if Madrid win they’ll be the first team to finish 5-1 in the group stages..ever. Even though Bordeaux did it just this year, United in 07 and United can this year and so can Chelsea..if they lose.

    Then this morning he was RT comments about people complaining Sneijder deserved it top 3.

    Lets break it down. Sneijder at Inter was GREAT, last season. He was magistral, but they won the treble because of their defenders, and Milito.

    In the WC he was the only dutchmen who stepped up and “lead” them to the final. They were my pre-tourney pick to win, and he didn’t really have 4 goals.

    This season, he’s been bleh. Actually, Rafa Benitez may have screwed him from winning altogether. I don’t feel too bad for the cue ball, but its true.

    Now Xavi and Messi are locks, but the other 3rd is Iniesta. He was injured a lot last season, but when he played last campaign and this he’s been outstanding. He also had the GW WC goal. Now some may overstate this, but the fact that Forlan was probably in the top 5 proves that the WC has a huge bearing on this.

    Okay onto other things..I’m excited for Ibi to come. It seems since he’s made the agreement, he’s stepped his game up a lot. That FK yesterday was kinda cute, with some luck. I hope the Ibi experiment will work, but if not what about this?

    I mean I know he’s flavor of the month but Samir Nasri. Okay Gooners, complain about this. But I believe his contract is up next summer, and if the Gunners don’t win another trophy (I’m sure they’ll win the Carling now that United is out), he could want a move away. I’d take Nasri over Fab. If we picked up Nasri, it’d be another wing-to-inside guy, like Ibi. Except it would mean Ibi would be more central, and challenge Thiago for a spot next season in spelling Xavi. With Xavi’s tendinitis, I wouldn’t sign Fab. That’d be too negative for the youngsters, but move Ibi, who could also then just play out wide instead.

    Okay maybe it doesn’t make too much sense. But Thiago needs to be challenged. Right now he must be thinking “man in January I’m the next Biscuits” Pep himself even noted he needs to be brought down to earth. If Pep plays Afellay in his spot it would help show him that he still needs to work for his role. Then if Thiago proves his worth, Ibi could play out wide. And if Ibi or Thiago don’t work out Nasri could. But thats only if he’s cheap because of his expiring contract. Arsenal would probably want a lot though, as they spent something like 22m on him I believe?

    1. and in the last thread it was noted that villa is having trouble because Messi’s position.

      Messi is like an Inside Forward, winger, Trequarista, and poacher all in one. He really is making a new position as noted by euler I believe.

      at the end of his career I can’t wait to look back and say, as its entirely possible, that we just witnessed the best player ever. Pele probably will have the most impact ever, but Messi has the chance to break that. His skill set is simply redefining the way the team runs, and tactics in general. His positioning and role in the squad is something almost no player has done. He can be everything to the team, and is. Ten years or so from now, we’ll be wondering if we just witnessed the greatest ever.

  17. Great post SoMa as always… thanks for having the last resolution be “To remember that the holidays are magical for children” just reminds me why I don’t want to parent a kid.. ever 🙂

  18. This means that the trophy will be given on Sunday 9th Jan live on TF1, Téléfoot if anyone cares. You will probably be able to catch a stream from atdhe or somewhere else starting 11:00 AM CET/Barca time 😉

    I’ll get to watch it in HD! Ha! And I’ll guess some translation will be commented here…

  19. Marc Bartra, Andreu Fontàs, Thiago Alcántara, Jonathan dos Santos and Víctor Vázquez have been selected for the Kazan game.

    Are there any restrictions on how many B-teamers are allowed to play in the CL?

    1. I doubt this, as I believe we’re the only league with B teams? Most others use reserves but I could be incorrect.

      Also the inclusion of other VV is awesome. I see a
      Adriano Pique(regain form)Fontas(amazing vs. Almeria)Maxwell
      Thiago JDS (First time lined up together on main team)
      Bojan, Jeffren, P!

      I’m not sure if P! was called up, and I actually doubt JDS will start with Thiago. But still 😀

    2. Betcha Messi plays. I’d like to see him get a rest, but he’s not happy unless he’s playing and I don’t see Pep messing with messi’s happiness (even if it’s for his own good).

    3. Forget that he’s not happy stuff. Pep needs to tell Messi to STFU and rest him against Kazan.

  20. Well there are teams in the past who have won all the games of group stages.I believe we had done this before.So what the big deal if e.e have a 5-1?Josep you must check the history of C.L…

    1. What? I’m saying one of the real madrid bloggers is the one who said it, and just off the top of my head was able to refute it.

      I mean 6-0 is the accomplishment, I’m not sure any have achieved. Chelsea would have to LOSE to match the 5-1 madrid hope to get.

    2. Who really cares how they finish, Josep? They’ll get knocked out in the Round of 16 anyway 😀

    3. Milan 92-93
      Paris saint german 94-95
      Spartak moscow 95-96
      and FC BARCELONA 2002-2003
      All these did win the 6 group games

  21. Can’t wait for the wealth of hate we are going to receive because of the Ballon d’Or list. As if we have some control over who is selected.

    1. Well everyone is up our arses apparently.Its a waste of time, it might be better to just respond to them with that deal with it gif* kari had with messi but i figured it might be a bit much lol.


    2. lololol its one of my favorite .gifs ever argh now I’m gonna look at it all day and laugh haha.

  22. No, I mean old, like the remote doesn’t work and it really is hard to set and you have to select ‘slow play’ or else you will wind up with 60 minutes of El Clásico and 30 minutes of husband threatening you with divorce because he cannot see the end of El Clásico.

    Made me laugh. Great post, SoMa.

  23. FWIW, update to a post elsewhere

    david villa so far
    18 games (13 liga – 5 CL)
    1508 minutes
    10 goals
    5 assists
    88 shots
    36 shots on target
    5 shots off the post
    22 balls recovered
    162 balls lost
    KRS avg = 4.7

    ibra last season
    41 games (29 liga – 10 CL – 2 CdR)
    3036 minutes
    21 goals
    9 assists
    136 shots
    68 shots on target
    3 shots off the post
    24 balls recovered
    390 balls lost
    KRS avg = 5.9

    1. Hey, so much for that high aggregate rating I gave Ibrahimovic last season, eh? 😀 Wonder if I still love him as much? Will have to consult the runes for that one.

      Villa is on target to have about the same (statistically) season as Ibrahimovic did last year in terms of goals and assists. He’s also going to (it looks like) have a LOT more shots than Ibrahimovic if he keeps up his current pace. Villa is also about on target for a first-year attacker for us. Henry, in his first year with us had 16 goals/11 assists. Eto’o had, his first season, 28 goals. Can’t find an assist number.

      Where’d you find the stats, VFC? They’re very useful.

      The “balls recovered” stat is an excellent one, and demonstrates Villa’s willingness to play the entire pitch.

      I’d also imagine, because of his gangbusters start for us, that Ibrahimovic will have a higher aggregate KRS after the same number of matches, than Villa. If current trends continue, however, Villa will wind up with a higher aggregate KRS, unless he does the same late-season tailspin.

      Time will tell.

  24. Cut and pasted from Totalbarca:——-hooray Kieta!———–
    FC Barcelona midfielder and Malian international Seydou Keita is among the five players vying for the title of the African Player of the Year 2010. However, he faces stiff competition for this honour from the other contenders: reigning African Footballer of the Year and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, three-time winner Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, Salomon Kalou also from Ivory Coast, and Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan. Keita is the only player in the list not to have played at this year’s FIFA World Cup

    Read more:

    1. For being nominated for the African Player of the Year, right? Hooray for him, but it’s probably going to go to either Gyan or Eto’o.

  25. Quote from Khedira:

    “The winner of the Champions League will come from our group”

    Arrogant bastards!

  26. Villarato !!

    EE’s appeal has been accepted and Mourinho will be suspended for one match (against Auxerre.)

  27. So, how much truth is in Gazzetta dello Sports report from yesterday, indicating not only that Xaviniestessi will be top3, but also the order:
    1. Iniesta 2. Xavi 3. Messi ???

    I would prefer the ranking posted by Kxevin, Xavi, Messi and Iniesta.

    And Eklavya, since I know that you’ve also been watching the live stream, do I remember correctly that Papin read the 3 candidates in the order given above (from Gazzetta)?
    It was not alphabetial order, neither with respect to the first name, nor the last name…
    Or am I just over-interpreting?

    I’m positively surprised that the voters (national coaches, captains and a bunch of chosen journalists) have uncovered Sneijder as a less great player than he himself thinks (according to *
    So apparently, they do have some serious knowledge about football. And with all due respect to Iniesta (I love him, too!) he was not the best player this year, he was injured for about 1/3 of it (at least if you consider the months in which competitive football has been played) and Xavi simply deserves it more. Individually, Messi is the best, but HIS TEAM didn’t succeed @ WC (note the difference between ‘his team’ and ‘he’) and that’s why he will not win it. He’ll win the next Ballon D’Or, even if he loses 20% of his current shape.
    Xavi is instrumental for Spain and Barca since at least 3 years, he’s the world’s best central midfielder for 3 years – what else can you ask of him? He even scored against EE!

    Whatever happens, I have a dream about the winner instantly calling up the other two players to join him on the stage and receive the award as a trinity 🙂

    1. “I have a dream about the winner instantly calling up the other two players to join him on the stage and receive the award as a trinity”

      hahaha love this. yeah, imagine if FIFA decided, given how good all three of these players are, that they are all deserving of the award and all three of them receive the award?

      inter@theoffside would explode. they kind of already have.

    2. I was thinking of that, too. Xavi getting the award but then calling the other two up to the stage with him.

    3. When the host gave the 1st envelope to one of the “openers” he said that the names were written in alphabetical order! Pierre Papin read them in the following order:

      Xavi then A.Iniesta then L.Messi

      It’s true that it’s not in the alphabet order but Papin made a few comments and smiled before reading them out loud so he might not have read them in the written order. One can speculate I guess…

    4. No, I just found a video, he actually read in the following order:
      Iniesta, Messi, Xavi

      No matter how you look at it, it leaves room for speculation.

      What does Papin say afterwards, in that 44 sec snippet from L’Equipe?

    5. Aaah too late, I shut down my comp and cant acces it from my mobile.
      Looks like it’ll have to wait till tomorrow…unless the other ThuraModerator is motivated 😀

    6. Well, I can wait till tomorrow, will go to bed soon anyway.

      Just don’t forget about it, please 😉

    7. After announcing the three nominees he says,

      “Happy Barca…. Happy Barca…”

      Then he says something about how Sneijder deserved to be among the 3 nominees as well.

      Then he says “I’m a little surprised by Forlan also, who (played well?) at the world cup, and who won the uefa cup as well. But essentially, what one sees here is the three players who deserve it.”

      [Note: That is a rather rough translation, so I apologize that it isn’t word for word correct.]

  28. Players given a rest against Kazan (not in squad):
    Alves, Xavi, Villa, Pedro and Keita

    Keita?!? Why does he need a rest?
    And where is Mr. Unsubstitutable, Lionel Messi… 🙁
    I just hope he doesn’t start the match, because the Tartans have been physical on him in every match so far, and tomorrow, they will even have to fight for their lives (needing a win, I wonder if they ever played football for a win before^^).

  29. Totally unrelated, but I thought this was cool. Generation Adidas, the MLS’ team of young all-stars, beat the Real Madrid reserves 2-0.

    I would imagine Barca Atletico would take them to the shredder, would they not? Maybe the future of the MLS is brighter than expected, or else the Real Madrid reserves are sucktastic. Not sure which I prefer…


    PS Today I officially registered for the membership in the Philadelphia Union official supporters’ group, the Sons of Ben, and I feel passion-bound to announce it to everyone here. Doop!

    1. Hey I thought I was the only one who follows the MLS. ;X

      Yeah I made a comment to MLS the other day before they played when they talk about the MLS Gen. Adidas players playing Real Madrid reserves saying something like “isn’t that who Barca played on Monday”?
      I’M SO CLEVER.

      There are two Chicago Fire players represented in Gen. Adidas 😀

  30. I’d like Andres to get it myself but I be thinking Leo will win it. Great that sneijder won’t be getting it too.

  31. The 19 players called up have only 3 attackers : Messi, Bojan, and Jeffren. I don’t see us playing a 4-4-2 or practicing a new game plan which means that Messi will probably play the whole match. But, I think he’ll be on reserve mode.

  32. Courtesy of Barcastuff:

    Guardiola: “Messi is the best, Xavi and Iniesta deserve it for their career. I’m glad I don’t have to choose.”

    I think that Messi deserves the award the most, if it really is for the best/most important/valuable player of the year. What he has done is pretty unprecedented. That said, I understand that the award isn’t actually ever given to the best player, it’s given to the best player who played for the world cup winning team. So therefore it should go to Xavi.

    I hope Xavi wins because he deserves it for his career and it would be a shame for him not to get one. Messi will (knock on wood) be able to add the next few to his mantle.

  33. isn’t there a difference between the Ballon d’Or and the Fifa Player of the year trophy? or am i mistaken?

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