A Look at Offsides

There has been debate about the offside calls in the last 2 Barça matches, so I thought I’d let you has through some of it by quoting the Laws of the Game. You can find them here (PDF), with the below quoted text–Rule 11–appearing on Page 31:

It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.
A player is in an offside position if:

  • he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

A player is not in an offside position if:

  • he is in his own half of the field of play or
  • he is level with the second-last opponent or
  • he is level with the last two opponents

A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

  • interfering with play or
  • interfering with an opponent or
  • gaining an advantage by being in that position

I’ve often heard it said that the rule includes some sort of caveat about “playable” parts of the body, which are often considered just the feet, for some reason, despite the head and chest being perfectly “playable” body parts. Unless I’ve been doing this thing wrong the whole time and everyone is laughing at my “headers”. Anyway, FIFA released clarification for these rules in 2004, the last time they did so if I’m not mistaken (I might very well be). You can find it here.

The part that concerns our little discussion is from Slide 5:

Consideration should be given to any part of the head, body or feet of the attacker in relation to the second to last defender, the ball or the halfway line.

Given that, was Jordi Alba onside?

Original here

That comes from Marca by the way. To me it’s a very close but correct call by the linesman, given that Alba’s head looks like it’s beyond where Adriano’s back foot is. But it is so supremely close that it’s hard to argue either way thanks to the camera angle. I personally think it was offside–if just barely, but I’m partisan. And check out Alves’ onside against Athleti:

Origin here

That one looks like a tie (which goes to the attacker), but it’s not the best angle, I’ll admit. And, again, I’m partisan. Either way, it was so close neither decision can really be attacked or defended, but I just wanted to point out hard damned hard these refs have it and how close those calls were. Alba looked clearly offside to me live, but when I saw the replay I was taken aback by just how close it was. I also thought Alves was offside live, for what it’s worth, but replays told a different story. Or so I think.

Categorized as Tactics

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. What is this “offside” of which you speak? Is it like an offsale? /girl


    1. This is the official FIFA term used when one of our football fashionistas, let’s say Pique for the sake of argument, buys clothes off the rack. Duh, girl, don’tcha know anything 🙂

  2. Totally agree. I think that both ways could be argued logically, the only reason that they both went in favor of Barca is because the president of the Spanish Football Federation gave an order to referrees to assist Barca in any way possible AKA “Villarato”.


  3. somebody posted a link to a referee explaining the offside law a ways back. i think the article may have been in the guardian. the ref used the acronym “pig:” played the ball, intended to play the ball, or gained an advantage.

  4. I’m a girl so I can’t understand offsides 🙂

    No really, that summary is a handy little thing to have around. I might even print it out. The refs are human. Sometimes the close calls will go your way, sometimes they won’t. What I hate are the game changing (or potentially so) calls like our home game against Villareal.

  5. “Consideration should be given to any part of the head, body or feet of the attacker in relation to the second to last defender, the ball or the halfway line.”

    Why don’t the announcers seem to know this???

  6. I don’t know why Phil kept blabbering yesterday about how it wasn’t offside. It was clearly offside.

    1. In Schoen’s defense, it was real-time, which looked to be way onside, and how. I even thought we caught a break until I looked at the play in frame-by=frame, via DVR.

    2. like eczema. he’s a rash that won’t go away.

      they can’t all be funny. 🙂

    3. Benzema? After Mou was practically bashing his playing?? I hate to admit, I like Benzema (I don’t really know why) and I think that they shouldn’t have gotten Adebayor and given Benzema a chance, because he deserves it.

    4. Even after the replays which showed the player was offside, he was still saying the he disagreed with the ref’s call.

    5. After HT Phil was actually saying he was offside and Ray persisted in calling it onside. I think it was the first time I ever agreed with Phil over Ray.

    6. I missed that. I decided to mute the game for a time during the second half because I was on the phone.

  7. I don’t even get why some people argue over tough calls like these. For me there is no right or wrong on these sorts of decisions. Just like Milito’s “offside” goal scored against us last season.

    1. I agree. On the pitch everything happens so fast, when a call is this close the linesman just had to use his best judgement. Sometimes they will be wrong.

    1. iker face, ozil face, marcelo, carvalho, ronaldo, di maria, lass, xabi alonso, sergio ramos face, & probably albigol.

    2. no offense, but i liked mine better, roz & blitzen.

      tight offside call goes against real madrid. would’ve been a goal off a free kick.

    3. Clear offside on Benzema. How can someone be offside from a freekick. Laziness I guess.

    4. i had a thing for sophia. 😉 not that i’ve ever seen an episode, really.

      beczema goal.

  8. This is OT, but has anyone heard anything about Kolo Toure (Yaya’s brother) and the failed drug test? I was wondering if they have released anything else about it.

    1. As far as I understand, he’s failed one drug test, and they’ll be administering another to make sure it isn’t an error.

  9. Great post.

    Alba still looks onside to me.

    The 2nd one Alves looks offside at first but taking into account the angle I think he is onside.

  10. Another concept people fail to realise is that often they think of the offside as a defensive rule – it is actually quite the opposite.

    Because of the offside rule our defenders can play high up the pitch

  11. Madrid always seem to win easily at home. Since I never really watch them as much, can someone/anyone tell me whats their problem in away games??…….

  12. nice try for the handball, welligton. see, that was ruled offside even though it went in from the free kick because the brazilian “intended” to play the ball.

  13. I think I got hectored…..
    Offside not, I wanna see goals not ruin them if possible.
    Alba’s goal is a fair goal to me, even more when they play home. They got robbed. In case of doubt the lineman should stay still. Valencia could and to me should have won. Or at least a draw, we got sooo lucky.

    Partidazo! Tactical heaven. How did we start? 3-5-2?? Emery knows us well & Valencia are such a good team. Banega is class, if they had two banegas like we have xaviniesta they could have won. He is very canchero, very good, and stronger than the two added up. AND Alba’s goal is a fair goal, in case of doubt the lineman should stay still. Valencia could and to me should have won. Or at least a draw, we got sooo lucky. We can do better! The team looks tired, like they have had too much of each other. Xavi Iniesta and Messi look wasted.

    Busi is a beast no matter where he plays, genius. Adriano was great, he has a much bigger repertoire than Alves IMO and can use both legs. I wanna see him play a lot and see his improvement with us next season! Masche ok. All three of messi xavi iniesta were bad, and it has been some games in a row…but we still won. ( Kxevin, I believe messi stole the ball from dealbert, a defender and it was a clear foul iturralde didn’t call) villa should have spanked messi’s ass, respect the elder messi! And freakin pass dude! Dribble in the box if you don’t know how to look up and can’t think what else to do but pass it to the game creators while you’re in midfield. He looses so many balls not even trying to pass everyone starts to see it now. Hope the mighty 3 wake up someday before the arsenal game. I have tickets!!! Please do 🙁

    BTW…. did you guys realize that valencia didn’t water the grass for like days and also they let it grow so high that barça could not move it fast and the bats reached soon enough to make pressure? First passes from the payers all were too short, until they got used to it. Unai Emery, the antibarça oh yes

    1. I guess you realize I rearranged the order of the points in my comment to fit the offside subject, in such a lame way!
      🙁 I repeated some words

    2. At least have the courtesy to organize you comment before you submit it. I need an aspirin…

  14. Damn it! Hattrick for CR, now he is Pichichi again – according to Marca 🙁

    I don’t mind even if Real wins 10-0, but another penalty and 2 further goals for Crynaldo piss me off.

  15. Be it 1:0, 7:0 or 70:0, it’s still 7 points.

    As for the offsides, I’d say both Alves and Alba were offside. But it’s so incredibly close. Consider that the linesman has to keep in line with the last defender, who’s dashing to catch the enemy player offside, and all the while he needs to watch the ball, in order to know if the guy was offside at the exact moment the ball was played. Xavi was like 15-20 meters behind while playing the ball, and Alves was sprinting for his life. It’s pretty much impossible to keep track of all those things at once and not make a mistake once in a while.

    1. you are definitely right. if already you and I disagree on both offsides (i say they were both onside) using stills how can the linesman see it.

      video technology would be a solution.

      another solution was offered by one creative Belgian dude some years ago. Let me see if I recall correctly.

      The linesmen would have to watch whether players in an offside or onside position, regardless of where the ball is / when the pass is played.

      A third ref / linesman / offsideman checks the passes.

      They all have a electronical device. When a player is in an offside position the linesmen hold a button which sends out vibrations to the device held by the 3rd ref, so that when the pass is played he knows whether or not the player receiving it would be offside.

      Fifa rejected it.

    2. That’s too complicated, my friend. The simplest thing to do is to introduce the challenge rule, say 2 or however many for each team. In this version the linesmen or assistant refs would let offside calls go, meaning they won’t raise the flag or warn the chief ref, and play would continue until the ball is in the back of the net or out of play. If any of the teams feels hard done by then they can challenge and the refs will look at the evidence. If it’s a blatant offside then the call should be reversed; if inconclusive the play stays as it is. So it the onus is on the teams if they want to challenge or not. If they get the challenge right, then that’s fine. If they get it wrong they lose a challenge. That seems to me would be the best way to control complaints.

    3. Yeah, but one of the main reasons for not using video material is because FIFA does not want to interrupt the flow of the game.

      The vibrators are more immediate 😉

    4. Well FIFA is in charge of an old decrepit man. Interrupt the flow of the game! What about all the diving and rolling on the grass? They don’t interrupt the game? What about every single goalie waiting 20 seconds before making the punt? Those don’t slow the game at all do they?
      So long as Blatter is in charge of FIFA no changes will occur and the sport needs changes like oxygen.
      I would use video evidence for everything, but most importantly to punish and punish heavily all those who cheat and dive.

  16. Pellegrini is clearly still in love with his former team and Thong Boy… 😛

    Doesn’t matter if they 20-0, I just hate the fact that TB scored… duh!

    1. yes, it’s *shocking* that we have the same thought about EE and TB! 😛

  17. Via Sid Lowe’s twitter: Mourinho: in a hypocritical world, not being a hypocrite is looked upon badly. If people not happy with me, I have no problem leaving

    Is it just me, or does that make absolutely zero sense whatsoever? It was always something of a long-shot for RM to drop points at the Bernabeu (at least until we play them) but they just won 7-0, you’d think the dude would be a little happier.

    1. from what I read on twitter, he showed no “yyeeaaaayyy! my team scored 7!” emotion during the match… Idk, didn’t watch the game…

  18. Chants in bernabeu: “xose mourinhooo, xose mourinhooo” Oh.my.god. … Can you believe it? how is this gonna end up?

    1. sorry, but I don’t understand your point…

      is Xose has a different meaning or what? :-/

    2. I think they just copied the famous Stamford Bridge / Chelsea fan chants.

      Nothing special about it imo, they will be quiet at the end of the season when Real Madrid has finished another trophy-less year 😀

    3. Bernabeu loves him and I love that 🙂 he is ee right now. but he’s Portuguese and won’t stay long. He is as ee as chelsea or milan. But too powerful he brainwashes people. I follow ee a lot it’s like falcon crest such a show such a mess. All those press conferences… I watch barça and listen to ee, the night radio shows and all. What I mean, I don’t hear any players names in bernabeu or any coach name in any other stadium. Maybe there is or has been one but never in his 1st season please!
      My girlfriend made me see it. I never see ee low enough for me better in segunda. Poor people I feel sorry for the ee supporters that don’t like mou. all those press conferences with mou, this is football they also like it.

  19. Malaga rested 6 starters today.Hmm…When Preciado did that and we barely beat sporting 1-0 Mou was being a typical crybaby.Any comments about Pelle today or is it only a problem if a team “gives up” at camp nou? Jose Llorinho.

    1. From @sidlowe :

      “Pellegrini claims essentially to have done what Mourinho claimed Preciado did. Although Mourinho said he understands this time.”

      “Pellegrini has set himself up for a fall with that claim… Honest? Maybe, maybe not. Foolish? Almost certainly?”

      certainly foolish… sigh… Pellegrini, what a disgrace…

    2. http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/88/spain/2011/03/03/2378412/malagas-manuel-pellegrini-the-7-0-defeat-to-real-madrid-does-not-

      “Before the match against Real Madrid we knew that we could not get a result,” said Pellegrini, according to Europapress.es. “Our mentality is to play on Sunday against Osasuna, which is like a final.”


      and this is his interview before Barcelona vs Malaga match :

      the Chilean stating to Marca that his goal is to “win” the encounter, not merely running the Catalans close.
      “That’s not our mentality,” the South American argued. “I hope we can produce a very good match.”

      see the difference…

    3. Pellegrini did say he didn’t go to bernabeu to fight for the 3 points. Like you said, what mou accused preciado to do.
      Mou said today also that he found it just normal what pellegrini did… excuse me? Hypocrites where?

    4. “sorry, sorry. over & over again.” best. video. ever.

      there’s no excuse for how malaga’s back line played today. whatever. let’s see how valencia fares. i have a feeling they’ll just roll over & die, though. they’ll show them too much respect, like every other team.

    5. Someone should remix that into a half-hour version and then we could have a real dance party!

      *throwing down*

  20. Before people go in crazy about the whole situation. Pelle rested 3 players for the game. He didn’t play Rondon, Maresca and Recio. Jesus Gamez was out due to suspension. Fernando played ahead of Recio (in last 4 games before this one, Fernando played two while put in a substitute twice).

    Malaga had a very important game on monday, and will play another game sunday. So the team has 3 games in 6 days. Just like Priciedo did, Pelle decided to rest the players in the games he thought was the hardest for him to win. Almeria are at the bottom fighting with Malaga, so that was the most important game for them. They also play Osasouna, who are also relegation battlers.

    Pelle did not rest his defensive line, as he played his starters there (aside from Jesus Gamez who was missing due to suspension). The Malaga team looked jaded and just tired all game, which is why the over motivated Real Madrid (since they drew last game) came out firing on all cylinders and ran ragged of them. You can see Opono not even run for the 2nd goal (btw, if i was Pelle of a Malaga fan, i would want Opono’s head)

    Is it a disgrace? If so, then what Priciedo did is a disgrace as well. But of course, the same reasoning that was given above, since it was at the camp nou, it wasn’t called. Lets relax. Take a breathe, and realize how the two situations are very similar.

    I don’t think any team should be fielding a side missing players just because they wont be able to win. And to be honest, i think there should be fines against changing the side drastically. I think they have that in England. But then again, Spanish sides don’t have teams with the same depth as EPL teams.

    As for Mourinho, yes, he is a hypocrite. What happened today is similar to what happened with you and Sporting. But what surprises me is, aren’t you guys used to him being a hypocrite? I didn’t care for Mourinho before he joined my club, and honestly never looked at his press conferences. When he joined, i hated his outspoken attitude. But i have come to this conclusion. He is like a baby, and he cries for attention because his plan is to have the “me against the world” attitude. As long as you feed that attention, its like a baby crying for candy and you keep giving it candy. Tomorrow, he will want candy again and he will cry. The best thing to do is just to ignore it.

    And to be honest, Pelle is a gentleman and the farthest thing from disgraceful.

    1. If you are referring to my comment above, that was totally tongue-in-cheek. I have no real problem with Pellegrini (although I would respect him more if he had actually set out to win the game). (and I think RM treated him disgracefully, the same way they treated Del Bosque) (Why do you support that team, again?)

      It’s Mourinho’s hypocrisy that rankles. He is just so blatant about his two-facedness. And I have to say, it is almost like he is daring them to fire him at this point. He just doesn’t seem like a happy man, or one that is committed to his team.

    2. Lol, it wasn’t in regards to your comments. I was looking around blogs and forums and saw hysteria, so i thought i would say this here so i can read comments without feeling in a place thats too “cule”.

      Mourinho was never here to be a long term manager. The management didn’t think he will be and he himself admits that he wants Fergie’s job at Man utd in the future. He was brought in because he is perceived to be someone who can win trophies. We are not doing as well in the league, but we are in the final of the Copa and if we ditch that round of 16 curse, then Mourinho would have done his job. I hate him, but over Barcelona’s history, there were coaches that you looked at and said: “why the eff are you coaching my team?”. It happens. Real Madrid were never as mismanaged as they are right now. It’s a phase, it will go away eventually.

      The reasons i support the team is Del Bosque and the style of football that was being played during his time. Raul was also a part. Iker as well. Back from 1998 till 2003, we were in the same exact shoes that you guys are in right now (in the general picture of unique style of football that is attractive, winning and being considered the number one club in the world).

    3. but over Barcelona’s history, there were coaches that you looked at and said: “why the eff are you coaching my team?”.

      *cough*Van Gaal*cough*


    4. It’s been a long-running theory of mine that Mourinho cultivates this “persona” in the media so as to create an us-versus-them mentality between himself and the players. (Well, that, and I think he just likes to stir things up and/or can’t help himself.) To a point, I think it’s been fairly successful–it’s hard to ignore the loyalty he still has from players at, say, Chelsea or Inter Milan.

      That being said, I don’t know how well it’s working at Real Madrid (to be fair, it’s still early days yet). My impression is that it’s mostly working fine, but there might still be one or two holdouts. I don’t know why, but I get the impression that Iker Casillas is, how shall I say this, not entirely convinced? I’m not trying to knock Casillas at all, I have a huge amount of respect for him, actually, and I can’t point to any comment of his that hasn’t been 100% professional w/r/t Mourinho. It’s just an impression I have, and I was wondering what your thoughts were on this issue.

    5. Actually, you are correct. The Spanish based players don’t like the outspoken nature of the coach. The club officials dont also like it. But here is the thing, you answered your question in the first part. This the world against us thing that he builds really draws the players closer to him. It makes them ignore the issues happening in the media.

      As you said, despite his antics, his method has lead to success. And the foundation that he left at Chelsea were really something to acknowledge. Will he stay at Madrid long enough to build a foundation? We will see. I should point out though, his defensive charactaristic nature has not been showing this season, which is great. Also, Cr7 has been diving much less, so i would imagine it has to do with Mourinho. Di Maria on the other hand…

    6. yeah, okay, you are right, Pellegrini isn’t a disgrace…
      I was just disappointed that last night he didn’t have the same fearless mentality which he tried to show against us… (I don’t hate him, to be honest)
      but you current coach, he definitely is a disgrace…

      he is a villain/scumbag (Preciado), cry baby (Unai Emery), rude and impolite (Beckenbauer), bad example for insulting everybody (Allegri), can’t admit his failure and never recognize when he is wrong (CR, 2007)…
      just a hypocrite beyond belief…

      in fact, I don’t know which I hate more, EE or Mourinho… 😀

      sometimes we try to ignore a person, but that person is just too annoying…

    7. I do agree. But i have to support him as the coach of my team. And if you think about it, the people that work with him have nothing but the utmost praise for him, so he must be doing something right

    8. yes, when we love our team, we must support whoever the coach/player is… 🙂

      and that’s the unfortunate thing, he is a great coach, yes…

      but while he seems so fond to his players, most of the time he can’t act respectful to the others outside his club…

  21. jesus h. maulaga got beaten like they stold something.

    “LLL took the lull in the game to find out that Charlie Sheen has gone mad whilst the blog was not paying attention.”-laligaloca’s twitter

    did you know charlie sheen has a twitter now? how awesome is that?

    1. yes, I knew…

      but when I followed him, he hasn’t tweeted anything… 😀

    2. I have no idea, I mean, it’s hard to predict…

      Pique will definitely play…
      I want to believe that Messi will get a rest, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen… sigh…

      and did Puyol get a medical green light already?
      If so, I think Tito should play him for like 10 minutes, just to get warm up before Arsenal clash…

      meanwhile, match against Sunderland will be very crucial for Arsenal,
      so I think Wenger will play his best players available… 🙂

    3. vv, alves(maybe adriano, but alves is probably itching to play), pique, puyi, maxi, masche, keiteee, xavi, afellay, bobo, & villa. maybe afellay as like a false nine or something. i don’t think guardiola’ll experiment w/masche at the back. if pep would have wanted to we’d have seen it by now. 🙁

    4. I don’t care who plays.
      All I care about is who get’s to rest.
      Messi, Iniesta & Abidal are the 1st to enter my mind.

    5. Oh, and the four players who are one card away from suspension. They should’ve gotten a deliberate yellow card against Valencia in order to be suspended for the match against Zaragoza.

    1. Don’t forget that Messi couldn’t play in 3 la liga matches due to injury back in autumn.
      Now, CR will miss 2 liga matches, so the minutes played will soon be equal.

  22. I don’t think Mourinho is crazy at all…Sheen has the luxury of being crazy. Gadaffi, like many before him, has turned crazy after getting too much power.

  23. We should really give Messi a rest against Zaragoza, CR is also injured so it’s only fair to rest him 🙂

  24. Thoughts about the Valdes, Mascherano, Busquets, and Messi all being on 4 yellows?

    One of them (I would think probably Busquets and Mascherano), will surely miss one of the big 3 away matches we have coming up.

    -Valdes, assuming he’s back after a couple of matches, will just have to stop wasting time when taking goal kicks.

    -Messi needs to keep whatever he wants to say to the referees inside. He also needs to listen to the referees whistle and avoid confrontations with defenders. I’m sure he won’t lift up his shirt again.

    -Because of where they play on the field and what there roles are, I don’t think I can fault either of them for picking up another card. I just hope it’s worth it in the context of the match.

    1. Timing!

      We have Getafe and Almeria sandwiched between Sevilla, Villareal, and EE. I hate intentional fouls but…

      On another note, TB is out for 2 weeks with a hammie. Funny that I can’t find it anywhere in my heart to be gleeful and for that I blame Bassam for being so nice. Besides it’s bad for the game and not very nice to revel in the misfortune of others. That being said, a little pressure off Messi is helpful.

    2. Definitely agree with your last point. If either Busi or Masch get another card it will likely be because they have to, to stop something worse from happening. We can do without one or the other of them for a game, but not both, so it’s a bit worrying.

      All of Messi’s cards have been for silly things and could have been avoided, so that pisses me off. Maybe being forced to sit out a game through his own fault will be good for him.

      Like soccermom4, I also hate intentional fouls, but…I hope Pep seriously thinks about getting these cards cleared out before El Clasico.

  25. Yay!!!

    Our Captain Caveman is already available for the match against Zaragoza 🙂

    1. Excellent, I wouldn’t want his first game back to be Arsenal!
      Visca Capita Caveman!

    1. Don’t think it’s official yet. I’ve only seen that mentioned in the papers.

      If he is indeed available for Zaragoza, he’ll probably only play about 20-30 minutes I think.

  26. Abidal cleared balls after balls, so were Pinto, Pique and sometimes Alves. We had to, because we had Xavi, Iniesta instead of Xaviniesta. We lacked control as the Batmen forced us lose it. It’s a collective “collapse” by our standard, because we are used to dominate possession. We were sheeps without the ball.

    Mascherano did well to me, but not enough. He should have done more in situation such as that. It’s clear to almost all of us that he has been a great great signing and has been doing his job really well, but one thing for sure he needs to adapt is the attacking side of the game, because we are an extremely attacking team. Yes, sMasch smashes oppositions and wins ball back like it’s the most natural thing, but he needs to improve his game reading ability, and of course I am referring to reading our game. If he can read the game better, he will be able to hold his pass, because that’s how Xavi (and now Busquets) does it, holding the play. Players have more time to run, and he has more time to watch, and then the pass ball to position where we can do bigger damage, so defenders will have tougher time defending us. Not to say he is not doing it at all, but that’s where he should improve.

    Valencia are the second most attractive football playing team to me. They have always been good. They sold the Davids and bought in some new faces, but it’s as if they(Tino Costa, Soldado and such) didnt need time to adapt, as they slotted right in and play well. The midfield clogging as discussed in the previous post were so vital and that’s also how Pep’s insertion of Adriano came into genius play. But that needs no further discussion.

    We were outplayed in the midfield by our standard, but in a normal standard, we were only being equaled. We enjoyed a lot of possessions in our half and near our box. That’s why it became so dangerous when the passing couldn’t be strung together. When the usually calm and collected Abidal found nobody in reasonable position to pass the ball to, he made the wisest decision for a defender and that’s to clear it long. Yes, it made him look bad, but that’s just how the situation forced him to do so, and he was right.

    I agree with poipoi, they should have had a positive result, like, a draw. But since Pep is genius enough to play Adriano that way, we can only say, “in Pep we trust” other than SOOOOOOO LUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. and Ooooohhhh! this comment should really be posted on the Kxevin’s review. but this offside post is just as great if not better!

      Alba was only so close to giving us a wound as he played in La Masia and then came back to haunt us. Moc Moc!

  27. A very interesting article on the difference between European and American sports leagues:


    So how do you find the right line? Would it be worth achieving greater parity in soccer if it meant breaking up Barcelona? (Is it OK if I answer no?) By the same token, imagine if American leagues had developed along the lines of European soccer. Would it have been more fun to watch the Lakers trample the Bucks by 40, back in the day, if the Lakers had a roster as stacked as the 1992 Dream Team? At least in soccer there’s the Champions League, where the various god-behemoths finally groan onto the field against each other. The NFL, by contrast, is the only high-level American football competition in the world (sorry, Finland). Does it need extreme parity in order to keep the stakes high, or—after five straight years in which the defending Super Bowl champion has failed to win a playoff game—would it be more exciting for fans to have a reliable standard of excellence?
    As a practical matter, these are irrelevant questions as long as the money keeps rolling in on both sides of the Atlantic. Philosophically, they make an absorbing conundrum, and how you answer it depends on whether your list of supreme traits in sports includes excitement, suspense, intensity, and drama—or beauty, beauty, greatness, greatness, and greatness.

    1. A salary cap would suck, but a 3-foreigner rule would be a good rule to achieve greater parity (read: lessen the immense disparity), but I have been arguing this for a while now.

      Bringing back the Champions League to just the champions would be good also.

  28. “Hay Liga and Hay Caramba! The Spanish title race is bursting with fruity excitement once again after an imperious Real Madrid thrashed sorry Málaga on Thursday night and Barcelona slipped up for the second time in three league matches to drop points against Valencia and leave the gap at the top of the table standing at a paltry three.
    For those already confused and checking their boilers for carbon monoxide leaks, this is the thrilling situation in la Liga according to Friday’s Marca whose ‘other league table’ shows Barcelona with four points less than the actual table, after the paper arbitrarily decided that Jordi Alba’s goal for Valencia on Wednesday was incorrectly ruled off-side and one of the strikes for Barça against Athletic Bilbao two rounds ago was incorrectly ruled onside – photoshop-sneakiness or not.”

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