Category: Champions League

November 25, 2009 / / Champions League

Adios PupiYou know better, but you stare anyway, unable to resist. Your breath is ragged, your legs jelly beneath you, the bitter taste of acid in your mouth, your sweat suddenly cold even as you know you’re overheating. It’s hard to imagine a worse fate that watching your enemy take pleasure in your miserable end, but here you are, riveted, unable to run, unable to scream for help.

You are the hunted, they are the hunters–it’s like the footballing equivalent of “The Most Dangerous Game“. That, to me, is what it must have been like to be an Inter midfielder during yesterday’s match, awed by the sheer skills and silkiness of our midfield panthers assassins, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. Despite our lineup being a 4-3-3 by design, we played almost a 4-4-2 that allowed Iniesta free reign through the middle, playing that sunken striker role that we’ve seen Messi working on for the last few weeks.

Sometimes you feel like a fool because you deployed a meaningless set of midfielders in a tactical formation that would hardly give (cough Mourinho cough) and sometimes you fail to realize how good the entire squad of your favorite team is and guess they’re going to draw 1-1 in a crucial match at home (cough er, no one! who would do such a thing? cough). Without Ibra, Messi, and The Yaya, what chance did we have against a side feature the likes of…wait, who do they have again? Because I can’t remember a single one of their players making any sort of a contribution, unless you count kicking the legs of blaugrana-clad players a contribution. In which case Lucio, Chivu, and Thiago Motta all played. And Diego Milito almost lost his life by bumping Puyol. Does he not know that he can kill people with his hair via judo-esque moves? It’s true!

November 24, 2009 / / Champions League
November 23, 2009 / / Champions League

CL Preview: Barcelona – Internazionale, Tuesday 2:45pm EST, Fox Soccer en Español and DirectTV

Barcelona at Dusk

Night falls swiftly across the city. The sun’s final rays reach out and strike the towers of the modern cathedral, its spindly form outlined momentarily against the darkening sky. Streetlights are on, illuminating cobblestone streets that intersect with sharp-angled apartment buildings built in the latest, most outlandish style.

Near the waterfront, where tourists often pack the cafes and restaurants, there is the distinct feeling of meshing centuries of culture with the neon shopping malls of international consumerism, of mountains of money failing to find their way through the dimly lit back alleys to where normal people live. But away from that, up the long diagonals that create a spider’s web out of the city’s streets and out past the city center, there is a hum. As you approach, walking amongst the shadows and family shops, you realize you’re in the middle of a throng, a crowd working its way slowly forward. There is energy and there is passion; there are shouts, laughter, grim silence, and that hum. That hum is there, the murmur of thousands of voices, of feet walking, of clothes swishing, the occasional horn honking.

This is a city built on individual greatness and collective passion, steeped in historical memory as alive as anywhere else on earth. This is the Barcelona of Antoni Gaudí, of Parc Güell, of Las Ramblas, of the Moors and Spanish Marches, of red and yellow flags fluttering on balconies, of the Catalan language, of cultural autonomy, of pa amb tomaquet, and, above all, of the Camp Nou, of Futbol Club Barcelona, of the blaugrana.

November 19, 2009 / / Champions League

Okay. My bag is already packed for Barcelona, that’s how geeked I am about this trip. I have two matches, the Inter Champions League and El Clasico.

Now who the hell am I going to be seeing for these matches?**

First off, let’s discuss the import:

If we lose against Inter and Rubin Kazan beat Dynamo Kyiv, we are out of the Champions League. Huge.
If we lost against the EE at home, we go down to them in the standings (presuming that we both win this weekend), and lose significant space in the psychological war that is a Liga season between the two giants.

But ….

November 5, 2009 / / Champions League
Are we going to make it, captain?
Are we going to make it, captain?

Quite frankly, I don’t know. This review isn’t going to be very long, because simply put, there isn’t a lot to say. Xavi came out after the match and said that we were the better team.

No, you weren’t. You know how I know? Because you didn’t win the match. Last time I checked they don’t give points for possession, or number of passes strung together to no avail.

November 4, 2009 / / Champions League
November 3, 2009 / / Champions League

CL Preview: Rubin Kazan – Barça, Wednesday 12:30pmEST, Fox Soccer/FSE

Kazan Kremlin (Wikimedia)
Kazan Kremlin (Wikimedia)

Reading the history of Kazan it quickly becomes obvious that the city is prone to being reduced to rubble. Fires and wars were the typical culprits, but Ivan the terrible massacred most of the population and then sent the rest of the Tatars to live a couple of dozen miles away. Basically, this is a resilient city. In the US, we talk about Mrs O’Leary’s cow burning down Chicago an it’s pretty amazing that it survived like it did; the 1909 San Francisco earthquake was devastating, of course, and the Dresden firebombing was awful, but those things only happened once. Kazan’s destruction happened at least five times. No wonder they’re able to consider simply going to Barcelona and winning a match par for the course.

Because of all that, I say we torch the place–they won’t mind that much since they’re used to this sort of treatment from outside invaders, right? Seriously, come on, it’s not that big a deal if we pull the ring trick from Leon The Professional on them, right? Except without our death too, cause that would be friggin’ pointless.

October 21, 2009 / / Champions League
If only I had bent the ball ....
If only I had bent the ball .... if only ....

I’m not customarily one of those “I told you so folks,” but when everyone was predicting destruction for Rubin Kazan, a few folks were cautious. Last year, when we were sweeping all before us, that prediction would have been easy. We would have wiped the floor with them. This year, in the wake of iffy team displays that have been bailed out by individual brilliance, we were ripe for the picking.

What did it take? A resolute team with absolutely nothing to lose, poor finishing on our part and two plays, both facilitated by a defender who has a contract on the table, but shouldn’t have been on the pitch.

This picture of Pedro! says it all. He was the beneficiary of our absolute best chance of the second half, a half filled with hope until it was cruelly snatched away by a casual stab at the ball by Bojan Krkic, who did a Busquets, directly into the path of an attacking Kazan player. The Yaya tried a sliding tackle ….

October 20, 2009 / / Champions League

Thanks to Andrew M, we’ll have a liveblog! Yay! Barca-Rubin

October 19, 2009 / / Champions League

CL Preview: Barça – Rubin Kazan, Tuesday 2:45pmEST, Fox Sports en Español

He is out there. Waiting, watching, listening to metal.
He is out there. Waiting, watching, listening to metal.

There’s a man standing in the beautiful wilds of an untamed jungle. He is forty feet in the air, balanced easily on a branch, surveying the scene. His blond locks shimmer and dance in the spotted light seeping through the canopy top. Both camouflaged and elegantly obvious, the man is one with his surroundings: poisonous and beautiful, stealthy and skilled. He has been here for a thousand years, you would imagine, motionless and watchful. There’s movement nearby and his eyes swing to the side, his head never moving, his muscles tensing ever so slightly.

There are words to describe the flurry of movement, the screech of pain, and the scene of horror, but those words are lost in the fear that ripples through you as watch a master hunter at work. He has taken another scalp for his bountiful collection. There is murder in his eyes as he turns his gaze upon his next victim. Be wary, traveler, for there is a killer on the loose and he is approaching another milestone in a career of milestones:

September 30, 2009 / / Champions League
Come, and I shall lead ye....
Come, and I shall lead ye....

Well, now. Not sure what to say about that one. Actually, I do:

Elegant, workmanlike and except for two Keystone Kops moments, drama-free. Dinamo Kyiv rolled into the Camp Nou, full of the same quotes that have been buttressing the hopes of every club we’ve played so far this season, stuff like “Well, we’re going in to win,” “Barca can be beaten, blah, blah, blah.” And perhaps we can, but you aren’t going to win it by setting up shop in your own end, kicking at every ball and player that comes near you.

I’m not a footballing genius, but I know that much.

September 29, 2009 / / Champions League

A big thank you to TuTomate for running this liveblog! Barcelona – Dynamo (CL)