This isn’t about what you think it’s about. It’s about stones. Cojones the size of casas. It’s even about balls of the bullion persuasion. Just not those ones. It’s about the ones that came clad in green and white stripes and ever let up for 90 minutes, even when it was obvious their temerity would be severely punished with a mighty Messi-led manita. Take a moment and digest the stupendously serious nature of Real Betis’ clangers twixt their legs. Perhaps that’s not your favorite thing to imagine, but every now and then it can be a good thing to get out of your comfort zone and this is perfect opportunity. Betis came in looking to play, to get us with a version of our game, and to make us pay attention. It’s my heartfelt belief that had Achille Emana been on the field, the final score would have been 5-2. Maybe even 5-3.
Goddamn I’m jazzed about what just happened. Sure, that’s why no one plays Barça like that, but wasn’t it amazing to watch? Wasn’t it just utterly enjoyable? Wasn’t it heart-pundingly fun? That’s F-U-N. It means, roughly, something that puts a smile on your face. Been a while, huh? The clásico was great, of course, but fun? Too tense, too emotionally invested for whatever this “fun” you speak of is.
So Thank You, Real Betis, for that match. Thank you for putting in a performance worthy of a draw with us. I’m sorry the final scoreline, I really am, but a certain “undeserving” Argentine wasn’t going to be denied his glory. And Ochocinco wasn’t going to be denied the true Barça experience.
But of course I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss a few things about that team in blaugrana. You know the one. But again, it won’t be what you think.
Ibrahim Afellay came on in the 80th minute (he was listed as “Afelley” on ESPN’s broadcast) and the best way to describe the way he looked out there is tentative. He wasn’t sure what to do and he wasn’t sure where to stand. He replaced Pedro, who is an overly active player and perhaps that’s what made him stand out as especially tentative, but he really didn’t move well or, perhaps, at all. He only got the ball in one dangerous position and he attempted an awkward cross with the outside of his right foot. From the left wing. It was duly smashed out for a corner, as will happen with sloppy passes in La Liga. It would be silly to judge him at this point, of course, with just a couple of minutes under his belt, so I won’t do that, but I will judge his fashion: you’re Dutch and you have to wear long sleeved UnderArmor (probably Nike ProCombat or whatever seeing as it’s Barça) in Barcelona? Really?
It’s interesting. David Villa seems to have the yips in front of goal. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Bojan. That’s right, the little Bojangles that couldn’t quite. What I mean is, one of the best strikers in the world, who has 12 goals in 17 league matches, is having issues with the pressure. This isn’t a knock against him, but rather a knock against the fan base that demands perfection at every step. Yet it’s perfection that depends on a goldfish memory. Messi misses 2 gimmes in a Copa match and he’s remembered for the hat trick he got. Villa misses 1 gimme, hits the post once, and has a magnificent freekick palmed off the line and he’s got the yips. Goddamn. And that’s exactly what’s happening to Bojan. If you fail to score, you’re shite, little man. It doesn’t matter how good your runs are, how many opportunities you create for your teammates. Don’t score and you’re shite. It’s all nonsense.
Jeffren, then: He’s trying to hard physically. He’s pushing himself into unwinnable situations against defenders who have position and more strength. And he runs into them. Hard. And he injures himself why? Oh. Stop doing that and you’ll ease into your talents, young man.
Pinto: His saves were tremendous, but his mistakes showcase why he’s #2 between the sticks. Sure, he’s got that badass air, but come on, you’ve got to distribute better than that. And I still don’t like his cornrows. Probably mostly because I don’t like anyone’s cornrows.
Oh and Xavi was absolutely stunning in this match. Watch it again and look at what he does. I don’t care what you say, he’s the best player in the world. Yeah you freakin’ heard me. I’m just so glad the other 2 I’d even consider for that title play with him. Oh how lucky we are, eh?