The Past is Present: Sporting-Barça

Liga Preview: Sporting Gijon – Barcelona, Saturday 2pmEST,

When you think of Luis Enrique, you probably don’t think of Sporting Gijon. Maybe if you’re considering David Villa you do, but even then, probably not. Maybe you should do so more often. The latter wasn’t born there, but they gave him a chance and up he sprang, a tremendous striker overlooked for his height. The former was born there and grew up in the youth ranks, but only spent 2 years in the first team, leaving in 1991 for darker pastures.

It was at Real Madrid that Luis Enrique became a star and got his first taste of team success. He won the Copa del Rey in 1993 and La Liga in 1995. And then the impossible happened: he moved—for free—to Barça and, even more improbably, became team captain and a fan favorite. Back-to-back Liga titles in 97/98 and 98/99, back-to-back Copa titles in 1997 and 1998, and the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup certainly loaded his trophy cabinet.

A versatile player, Luis Enrique ended up scoring 109 goals in 300 matches for the blaugrana, though his production fell off in his final years. He retired at the end of the 03/04 season, only months before I started watching matches week-in and week-out, but I’m here now to watch his protégés shoot upwards into the first team and it’s a joy. Or at least it is whenever I get around to finding a stream and making my poor lady suffer through yet another sporting event over the weekend.

The original point, though, is that when you think of Luis Enrique, you should think about Sporting and you should do so with a fair amount of appreciation for what they’ve done. They’ve provided us Quini, Luis Enrique, and David Villa, to name just 3 players. They’ve suffered the consequences of being a small team while we have reaped the rewards of their youth system. I doubt their fans want sympathy or pity and I don’t think they deserve either of those. They deserve respect. And so does their club and their history.

If you follow him on Twitter, Luis Enrique, between random discussions of biking, running, or posting pictures of what he’s eating, obviously retains a massive amount of love for his original club. When they win, he’s ecstatic and makes that known. Sporting de mi vida and the like. Words of encouragement to help them stay up for at least another year. A winning streak must have had him through the roof as they leapt 11th. And then they were hammered 3-0 by Athletic Bilbao. He even claims that he hopes both teams can win tomorrow. Erm, someone should explain–oooh, I get it.

There shouldn’t be any drop in his love for his hometown club, of course, but especially not considering their current manager is a Mustache Hero. Like Tom Selleck before him, Preciado is capable of untold heroic actions thanks to his furry friend. And like the gallant Gordito. Or, if you don’t want to read the whole thing to see him, here he is), he can ride dinosaurs. Mustaches like that don’t just appear. They’re earned. Blood, sweat, often tears (lots and lots of tears), and occasionally sacrifices to obscure regional gods. You’re probably done reading that Dr. McNinja comic by now, so we can continue with our story.

Basically, Manuel Preciado’s mustache was forged in the fires of Mount Doom, but back when it was known as Mount Mustache, before it lost some of its powers and became a sort of a ring factory. Weaksauce, Mount Doom, weaksauce. The mustache can cure cancer except it doesn’t have opposable thumbs, so it can’t do it for our incompetent asses. It has run into the limitations of the human body. And one of those limitations appears to be winning La Liga trophies with mid table clubs. It can only do so much.

Barça beat them 1-0 at the Camp Nou in late September in a match squeezed into a Wednesday between trips to Atleti and Athletic, but it was a match that included something like 34 Sporting youth players on the field, some of whom, if you believe the hyperbole of the Madrid press, were like 5 years old and only had one leg. They played us with crippled children. And we beat them! No mercy! Woooo. [pounds muscle milk and 4 loko cocktail]

This time around, they’ll field their best lineup and they’ll be hoping to continue improving their fortunes at home, which includes 2 wins in a row at El Molinon. They also have 3 clean sheets in their last 4 matches, including an 0-4 thumpaaazo of Mallorca in what last season was an impervious fortress. Not so this year, apparently. Sporting have amassed nearly half of their total points (22) in the last 5 matches: 10 points. They’re on a role, really, even if you include the smashing by Athletic.

Diego Castro is their top scorer with 8, which is just over 1/3 of their total (22), but don’t think that means they’re particularly dependent on him, at least not statistically: Lionel Messi also scores more than 33% of Barça’s total goals (70). But then again, Messi has scored more (24) that all of Sporting combined. But of course 4 of Castro’s goals have been penalties while only 2 of Messi’s have been scored that way–compare that to HeyItsCR9‘s 5 penalties and you can begin to see why Marca is full of bullhooey and has to include a deflected goal to give him the current edge in the Pichichi race. But that’s a story for a different day (and one you’re already aware of, no doubt).

It’s 7 points for us at the top and any slipup can let RM right back into the mix, so while this one is over according to the bookies (I’m assuming) and over according to the stats, it’s far from over on the field and it’s going to be a rough one. We’re missing Puyol and Jeffren through injury, meaning our squad is:

Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Milito, Abidal, Maxwell, Adriano, Busi, Mascherano, Keita, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro, Bojan, Villa, Afellay.

I expect a strong lineup even though we have Arsenal on Wednesday. Milito and Maxwell on the left side, perhaps, to keep Abidal fresh, but otherwise I see this as a regular lineup. Get ready for the long haul, boys, because it doesn’t stop from here on out. It’s pedal to the metal, comb to the mustache. It’s a big week, so let’s come off the stupid, horrible, and completely meaningless FIFA friendly break by beating Sporting. And then I lose my mind because it’s knockout competition time. Aaaaaaaaah.

Also, aaaaaaaah: April 20 at the Mestalla we take on Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final. Aaaaaaah. That means, I think, that the clasico at the Bernabeu will be held Saturday, April 16. Book your tickets now, suckas. Or don’t because RFEF might just go ahead and switch the date to like February 30, 2012 or something. It’s good to know that the match will take place at a neutral venue (though technically closer to Barcelona…I think–Spanish geography is not my strong suit) rather than at The House di Stefano Built (and Florentino Perez turned into a Fortress of Soli(dwaste)tude. Yeah, I just made a poop joke.

Official prediction: 0-3. Goals by Messi (2) and Villa (1, obviously). It won’t be a crushing victory, but it will be 3 points, meaning RM goes to sleep down 10 and has to face what might typically called a tricky away fixture at Espanyol, but is actually going to be a romp through We Give Up State Park. Not that I’m saying they’ll throw the game, but they somehow seem to lose to RM no matter what the situation.

Game of the Week: Atleti-Valencia at noon on Saturday. Runner up based on table position: Espanyol-RM.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. They played us with crippled children.


    But at least they didn’t roll over for us like that Real Madrid team did!

    I like Sporting Heehaw, I really like Preciado. I hope they stay up, and he stays as their coach. I think Jnice is right, though, Lucho will probably leave Barca soon to become Gijon’s coach.

    Is it just me, or does La Liga have the most entertaining coaches? Pep, Mou, Quique, Unai, Preciado…

    1. Pep is entertaining? How, by telling us how Almeria is going to be the most dangerous game we’ve faced all season, and then three days later how Malaga is going to be a very dangerous game, and then another half-week later how Santander will be the toughest game we played in his time here?

      Haha, I still love Pep. But he’s almost amusingly diplomatic. Okay, not even almost. FCBFamDrivel makes so much fun of it:

      ‘Pep Guardiola. We love him. We want him to continue. But try controlling the urge to giggle hysterically when Pep tells you every second game that it is the most dangerous game we will ever play! I did giggle once, and Pep didn’t like it. I got Bojan duty twice that week. Yeah. But other than all that, it’s pretty much fun.’

    2. And

      ‘The next most dangerous game is scheduled for tomorrow against Atletico Madrid, and our reliable sources inform us that Pep Guardiola has already given three speeches (and is currently preparing the fourth) about how the team shouldn’t relax physically or mentally just because they are seven points ahead in the league. “It’s just like how it is in a game” says Tito Vilanova, the man who has learned to stay calm even when Pep is frothing at the mouth next to him, “Pep starts off nice and relaxed, and the more we score, the more worked up he gets”. Pep confirms it. “I never give the players a rollicking when we are losing” he said to The Sun (or so The Sun claims), “It’s only when they are winning that I sometimes have a go”. Yeah, because that makes sense. Anyway, as the gap to Real Madrid widens, don’t be surprised if the Mister gets increasingly hyper and not in a good way. That’s just how he works.’

  2. We should rest Leo Messi or at least have him play 30 minutes. The genius was suffering from some muscle problem that I don’t know how to translate to English. I am confident that we aren’t going to suffer from FIFA virus.

    1. That’s all well and good, but if Leo plays, it will be as a starter, because we ill have it wrapped up by the 60th min, and Pep would not bring Leo on as a sub for 30 min if the game was for all intents and purposes over. If he was to do so and Messi hurt himself coming on as a sub in the second half of a game that we had already killed of, he would be killed in the media. Marca would probably say Messi was selfish to be a 2nd half sub just loosing to bag a goal of two in the pichichi race.Its simple, he either starts or sits.Unless of course we are down or tied with about 30 min to go. sooooooo is this game on TV. I am paying 109 a mo/ so I can have ESPN Deportes, Gol TV and FSC…lord help me of I am w/o My boys!!!

    1. Abidal at CB vs arsenal???? I think we should put BUSI an Puyol’s spot at CB in the CL and let smash play DM…Especially VS. English opposition. he will relish the opportunity. Tomorrow we should give it a shot to see how it work.

      Adriano—–Pique—-milito (the perm)—–maxwell






      Call me crazy but I think Bojan can play as a creative mid. In a Cesc/ Thomas rosicky role.

      Also, Lets forget a bout the Cesc nonsense and bryong in a host of young talent for about half the €’s

      IN(our price)
      Douglas Costa (Shaktar) MID/Wing €15m
      Adam Johnson (Mancy) Mid Wing €12m
      Miralem Pjanić (OL) Mid/Wing €12m
      Jesus Navas (Sevilla) Wing €17m
      Thomas Muller (Bayren) €22m
      Yoann Gourcuff (OL) €25m (could replace Kieta)

      ****Someone unplug Leo’s alarm clock, let him nowhere near the field for once.

  3. You guys should check out FCBFanDrivel, it has some hilarious stuff.

    On Pique’s Twitter insanity (and its amazing just HOW insane his tweeting is, they post about it all the time this being one example):

    More Pique:

    On RoSELL:

    On more Pep, Ronaldo, Pandiani and Balotelli:

    On Messi off-days:

    On the RFEF yellow:

    On Pedro celebrations:

    More Pique:

    And HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAA I nearly died laughing watching this. It’s priceless. Never seen a funnier football video. I hope we get this guy.

    I watched it like ten times

  4. I’m sure we are going to see the same starting eleven we have seen the past few weeks; Pep is serious about the winning streak. Now is the time most teams would rest players (right after international friendlies and right before a big Champions League tie) and it is also the time WE drop points. There is no doubt in my mind that if we rested anybody we could very well drop points; Pep will not be underestimating Gijon. Whenever he does rest someone, I hope it is not P! because without him we lose our width and a lot of hustle.

    1. Apparently in his press conference yesterday Pep said there are some players with a few niggles, but he didn’t want to be specific. I think we could see a couple of rotations, but nothing drastic.

  5. Lets not forget that it had to take a squeezed dying minutes higuian goal for EE to beat gijon. Coupled wit the d match would be tough but i still exect pep to have the common sense to rest messi and abidal. This gives him a chance to further help milito gain fitness maybe he could play against arsenal and abidal plays at rb seeing as we cnt clone him.
    My preffered and most sensible (to me) line up

    Xaviniesta, SMACH/BUSI

    P!, villa, 3M
    we get to win 2-1

  6. Got this from barcastuff who got it from Sport;
    “From next week on, the players will have 5 joint meals at the club. Until now they only had between 2 and 4.”

    Do they mean 5 meals per day? per week?
    5 meals a day seems a bit too much isn’t it?
    Don’t want the players to get over weight 😆

    If Ronaldo’s prediction’s are right that we will lose at Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla, we would lose the league but it’s not like they will not drop any points at all.

    1. Most athletes eat a larger number of small meals right? That’s what’s supposed to be healthy too, its just also inconvenient for us normal people not as motivated to be healthy.

      Or maybe it means every week? As in before it was two to four days a week, now its five days a week? That seems sensible too.

  7. The air-line distance between Madrid-Valencia and Barcelona-Valencia is pretty much the same. I just measured it in pixel after printing the screen of google maps, it’s been 161.66 pixel to 161.40. And guess what… Barcelona is 0.26 pixels closer to Valencia acording to my metric 😀

    This match will be tougher than the last one, I hope we win 2-0.

  8. Surprised nobody posted this already..
    From barcastuff:

    Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): “Barcelona will lose at the Bernabeu, in Valencia and in Sevilla.”

    So glad he made this comment, seems like he hasn’t learned his lesson yet..

    1. Barca96 sort of mentioned it, not the exact quote though.

      Does he have secret machosistic tendencies and enjoy getting spanked (figuratively) or something? Especially since in both seasons of the Pep era we have both dominated more and gotten a bigger score in the away Clasico than in the home one? Next thing he’ll say ‘lets see if they can score 11 goals’ and end up losing by 11-3 = 8-0.

  9. are amazing.

    In a webpage titled: Xavi would ‘love’ Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney at Barcelona as he is ‘our kind of player’

    Headline: Xavi Enthusiastic About Barcelona’s Attacking Style
    Sub-header: Spaniard claims Fabregas has to end up at Nou Camp

    Barcelona midfielder Xavi has described Wayne Rooney as an “extraordinary” player, adding that he would love the Manchester United forward to join him at the Nou Camp.

    Xavi, a World Cup winner with Spain in 2010, believes that Rooney’s playing style is suited to the La Liga giants, insisting he is the Catalan club’s “kind of player”.

    “Rooney is extraordinary, he could play for Barcelona,” he told the Guardian.

    “And before people imagine headlines like, ‘Xavi says Rooney to join Barcelona’ – although, I’d love him to! – what I mean is that he’s our kind of player.”

    He actually points it out to say that its NOT what he means but while even writing that quote, has to put it up there doesn’t it.

    1. And in the comments, the award for Hilarious Comment of the Day (Outside Category) goes to:

      ‘stef greece
      9:16 AM Feb 12, 2011
      Funny guy you think you will play like this all time.You are funny and players like messi play alone enough.Xavi madrid play better football in any case.And with mourinho play also good.Madrid play only attack barca play pressure football and belive me xavi pressure isn’t attack.Pressure is defence.Madrid style is always the same.4-3 or 3-2 or 6-0.And they defend with 5-6 players not with 10.That’s an attacking football.’

      Winning 4-3 or 3-2 is more attacking football than winning 6-0. Wow.

    2. WOW!!!!!
      I just…I really..I don’t know what to say…
      Even if he is a die-hard Madrid fan, but you should not be that stupid to say things like that. That is just dumb!

  10. Watching Manchester derby. Interesting start. City playing well. Yaya looks really good. You can see him trying to exhort his team mates to press like Barcelona. For me Silva has been very disappointing. Everything is set up to go through him but he’s not looking up to it atm. Rooney in danger of losing it if he doesn’t get into the game soon.

    1. It has to be said that one Yaya Toure is trending in Twitter worldwide, and for some inexplicable reason that makes me happy.

  11. Watching the Manchester derby is fascinating. I haven’t watched an EPL match in a while, but it really is true that the technical ability is not as good as La Liga. On the ManCity defense, the Yaya seems to be the only that thinks when he gets the ball; the rest really do hoof it if there’s any chance of danger. On both sides there also seems to be a lot of speculative crossing and lobbing.

    Manchester United, though, is a damn good team. One always hears it, but I hadn’t actually watched them play in a long while.

    And Nani just scored. From a long ball to long pass to direct shot. That took skill.

    1. Can also see why speed is so valued in the EPL: they put a lot of effort on getting a lot of men in the box once an attack looks to build up (to the detriment of their midfield).

  12. For scouting purposes:

    Arsenal v. Wolves on ESPN3 at 9:55 EST this morning–live only (not replays allowed!)

  13. Yup. It’s very easy to underestimate the effectiveness of what they do – even if it’s not really my favourite style. Tevez has been disappointing as well.

    Not worried about them in the CL though. Chelsea are still my real worry, although creeping up as an outside nightmare is an Arsenal side with Van Persie back on form and Cesc with a burning desire to show us that we need him.

    1. It’s a bit immature, but sadly my friends and I can’t stop looking out for opportunities to whip out TWSS. I blame it on the excessive Office watching we did back when the show was still good.

    1. In Catalan

      Tot el camp
      és un clam
      som la gent blaugrana
      Tant se val d’on venim
      si del sud o del nord
      ara estem d’acord, ara estem d’acord,
      una bandera ens agermana.
      Blaugrana al vent
      un crit valent
      tenim un nom el sap tothom:
      Barça, Barça, Baaarça!

      Jugadors, seguidors,
      tots units fem força.
      Son molt anys plens d’afanys,
      son molts gols que hem cridat
      i s’ha demostrat, i s’ha demostrat,
      que mai ningu no ens podrà torcer.
      Blaugrana al vent
      un crit valent
      tenim un nom el sap tothom:
      Barça, Barça, Baaarça!


      The whole stadium
      loudly cheers
      We’re the blue and claret supporters
      It matters not where we hail from
      Whether it’s the south or the north
      Now we all agree, we all agree,
      One flag unites us in brotherhood.
      Blue and claret blowing in the wind
      One valiant cry
      We’ve got a name that everyone knows:
      Barça, Barça, Baaarça!

      Players, Supporters
      United we are strong.
      We’ve achieved much over the years,
      We’ve shouted many goals
      And we have shown, we have shown,
      That no one can ever break us.
      Blue and claret blowing in the wind
      One valiant cry
      We’ve got a name that everyone knows:
      Barça, Barça, Baaarça!

    1. That’s the kind of goal you think about scoring when you are a kid laying in bed. Fantastic.

  14. Anyone have a link for the mancy/manu game. Newbie to finding streams that aren’t Barca…

  15. Gah. Nevermind. Really hope Villa scores today to get some juju going into the Arsenal match. Would like to see Keita in this one to rest Xavi/get him in a rhythm for this long stretch of games. Plus it’s always interesting to see Iniesta’s conception of the Xavi role.

  16. It’s a miracle—Cesc and Van Persie have recovered from that dastardly stomach bug (that kept them from having to play in useless friendlies that all of our starters played in) in time for today’s game.

  17. Wow. A possible future midfield trio is playing for B team now.
    Dos Santos-Thiago- Rafa…
    Im drooling…

    1. Soriano.
      Assisted by Nolito.
      Nolito spotted Soriano making a run behind the defenders so he gave the ball to Soriano who finished it cooly.
      BUt it all started from the back. SOmeone cooly played out of defense and passed it to Thiago who was waiting at the edge of the box.
      Thiago continued making a run till the halfway line and then passed left to Nolito who dribbled till the box until he noticed SOriano making a run behind the defenders.

      Moments later, Thiago was again involved in a beautiful attack.
      He made a beautiful horizontal pass to Nolito who only had the goal keeper to beat but missed the one on one.

    1. Van Persie is on a hot streak, we’ll have to be very careful of him. And Cesc looks great. Arshavin still kind of stinks, though.

  18. I had to head to the library and get some studying done, so I missed out on the Arsenal match. I caught the second half of the Manchester Derby. I’m not sure why City is said to be a title contender. It was pretty obvious from my brief viewing that this United squad, probably one of the weakest Utd squads in the past few years in terms of depth/talent, is still a level above City. United were dictating play the entire time, and you could tell a goal was coming. Great strike from Rooney to finish the game off.

    Hopefully they don’t get too far in the Champions League. They’ve got class, confidence, and experience, which means they’ll be a dangerous side to face. If I had to choose between the two, I’d rather face Chelsea, just based on current form.

    1. Yeah, I just checked the score. Looks like they’re going to roll into Wednesday’s match with confidence.

  19. I’m trying to watch two games and get all my mom/wife stuff done. As such, I missed the second B team goal. What happened?

    Is it me or does Fontas look AND move like Pique?

    1. I missed it too, but the replay showed a lovely shot at a very tight angle across the net from Nolito. I couldn’t tell if anyone else got a foot on it before it went in.

  20. After watching the Arsenal game I think we should feel confident going into this tie. It’s really ours to lose. Van Persie is on fire right now, I think they said 9 goals in 5 matches or something like that. Walcott is playing well, and Fabregas is looking good too. But they try to play one touch possession football, but it seems to me their touch is nowhere near ours. They lose a considerable amount of balls, and really are most deadly on counterattacks with Walcott’s speed and Van Persie able to strike from almost anywhere on the field. We can definitely dominate possession against them, but they are going to be physical against us this time, I’m expecting a lot of fouls and fair amount of cards. But the ultimate test is Arsenal’s defense. They look like a makeshift back line and even though they kept a clean sheet today, I’m not positive how they will fair against M-V-P. I think the key to us winning will be maintaining and not letting our defense fall asleep on counter attacks or clever through balls to VanPersie or Walcott.

    oh and OMG DID YOU SEE ROONEY’S GOAL?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  21. 2-0 Arsenal FT.

    Keys to our game on Wednesday. Busi has to cancel out Cesc, Abidal on Walcott, go at Clichy all night long because he won’t know what to do against P!! and Alves. Walcott showed he is capable on playing on the left a little today but I doubt he’ll try going against Dani. Van Persie is looking REALLY good but if we take care of things in the midfield it will be a non-issue. IMO

    1. Nope, don’t see it. The one behind Messi kinda looks like Pedro!! though. Or not. (Similar skin tone and short stature but that’s about it).

  22. Great win for our B team.

    Wow, Pathetico are one up against Valencia. I kinda want them to win cos I don’t want them to go in crisis and fire Flores, but I also want Valencia to be doing well. When I first started watching football, Valencia and United were my second and third sides (United to be following someone in the EPL and cos they played some very nice stuff).

    Did I scare off Mila? LOL.

    Van Persie has been in dangerous form. He could be a threat. But I just don’t see Arsenal beating us. We have more skill, confidence, cutting edge, solidity, swagger and discipline. Plus we are much better in midfield, and our attack is far better than their defense while our defense is pretty good and have enough physicality in there to handle their attack.

    If we win against Gijon, we tie the European record of Inter in 2006/07 with 17 wins in a row, right? I think?

    Yes United are looking more and more dangerous, and around February is usually when they start improving. They seem ominous. We are enormously better, but they have grit, solidity, strong defense and Vidic with dangerous counter-attacking. Aside from them and Chelsea if they get back on top form and desperate for a CL trophy, I don’t see anyone else a real threat in our way to the CL.

  23. Crap. Slept in and missed the Manc derby and Arsenal-Wolves. 🙁

    Just a couple of things, Arsenal may have played well but it was Wolves at home. I know, I know, the same Wolves that beat Man Utd, but that’s why it was such a shock when they did (and Wolves were playing at the Molineax, where I believe is where they are strongest (obviously)).

    I’m happy Arsenal seems on form and as confident as they are going to be—it was no fun when everyone was writing them off. Hopefully we’ll see some nice “hype” articles from the BritPress 😀

    And yes, I will be running the LiveBlog today. *cue screams of horror and terror*

    1. It’s on ESPN3 for me today so the family needs to hook up my laptop to the tv for the game, but I’ll try to pop in and say hi at HT.

      Didja ask Geri what to do about all these BFB guys who want to be your valentine?

  24. Just saw Rooney’s goal.

    HOLY SH*T!! Que golazo!! O.O

    Setting aside all the probable hype/hyperbole that will follow in the BritPress (“The return of Rooney!”, “The best goal you’ll ever see in the history of football”! etc., etc.), you just have to hold your hand up and say that was a great goal. And it was the winner too.

  25. Is it wrong to watch the game streaming while I’m in the hospital?

    It doesn’t matter but I will need live streaming.

    1. it’s not like you’re rocking a colostomy bag or anything right? go for it! have ’em hook up a morphine drip while you’re at it. ;^)

    2. Thanks for the concern, but no, I’m fine. My girl friens sister just got chemo and I’m supporting her.

      So is it cool? or uncool?

    3. Depends on what link you’re looking for. You can drop by the LB, I’m starting 10-15 min. before game-time so people can get all settled and find links.

      I use veetle, but atdhe has returned with links available.

  26. barney Ronay has to be the single sh*ttiest writer on the Guardian I’ve ever had the displeasure to read (yes, it was necessary to be that harsh). It’s so obvious he’s fishing for hits, you can’t even shake your head at the desperation–it’s just annoying. So much vitrol I’m surprised he hasn’t died of poisoning.

    Just another example of his -insertunpleasantwordhere- is his latest article (he has it in for us by the way. Spain too (which is just another extension of Barca anyway)):

    *takes a deep breath and exhales*


    1. Oh, I dunno. Seems he’s making the case for the existance of both “styles”. Personally I’d rather have major dental work done that have to watch hoof ball all day.

      ” It is the clash of styles that really entertains. Birmingham v Stoke and Arsenal v Barcelona may be a bit too much like chips with chips. But Arsenal v Birmingham is a great Carling Cup final and Stoke v Barcelona would be a once in a lifetime mash-up, the football equivalent of Jesse Owens racing a horse”

      SOoooooo we need to invite Stoke to the Gamper to put to bed all these speculations.

      Besides, the author did manage to use the words onanistic and gnome in the same sentence. He should get credit at least for that.

    2. Oh, no. What brought on this rant was a cumulation of articles this guy has written. He’s just….insufferable. I’d never want to meant him. His “Barca is mes que un club but so are Yeovil Town” a while back was the last straw for me. He doesn’t research anything (or maybe he does, and it’s just my own vitriol talking).

    3. hmmm I just read it and felt it wasn’t that heavy-handed. In fact, he didn’t really say anything derogatory of Barca. All he is asking is a simple question, “what is the best style of football Barcelona’s possession based approach or direct, long ball English style of play?”

      It’s a fair question to ask (but a simple answer for us cules) but for people who have grown up in a culture where the physicality of football has always been emphasized over the technical skill it’s almost astonishing he even is asking the question.

      And I feel his answer is really a good one at that:
      “For now we should probably celebrate what might turn out to be a golden age for stylistic diversity. It is the clash of styles that really entertains.”

    4. ‘”Analysis shows that possession play produces negative results,” the FA warns us straight off. “Upon receiving the ball a player should instantly ask himself one question: can I play the ball forward?”‘

      No wonder England never does anything in international football.

      Haven’t finished the article yet but yes it doesn’t seem that offensive so far.

    5. Oh and this bit too ‘And my own favourite: “Accuracy is not everything in passing.”‘

    6. And this… ‘For decades The Winning Formula was the thrust of every FA coaching clinic, enshrined as a set of first principles until at least 2002. Nothing has replaced it.’

      But it honestly seemed like a fine article. He was praising us, saying how we had been excellent and taken football to a new level without physical contact being the main draw but pressing and passing, and so on.

  27. Line up:

    Valdes – Alves Pique Milito Maxwell – Xavi Mascherano Iniesta – Afellay Messi Villa

    Decent call I reckon.

    1. Decent—not unexpected—would rather see P!! instead of Villa.

      Thank goodness Abidal is finally getting a rest!

  28. Liveblog looks weird because I can’t find out how to put that box thing on the post.

    But it’s up and that’s all that matters

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