Category: Champions League

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)

September 28, 2009 / / Champions League

CL Preview: Barça – Dynamo Kiev, Tuesday 2:45pmEST, Fox Sports en Español

Imagine how good I'd be if I wore these!
Imagine how good I'd be if I wore these!

In the 10th century, Русь, or Kievan Rus’, controlled what we know as the Ukraine, Belorussia, and eastern Russia. There were notable figures like Vladimir the Great and his son Yaroslav the Wise and Kievan Rus’ ended up controlling a vast swatch of Eastern Europe that extended into eastern Russia. They wrote the Russkaya Pravda and made the Dnieper a major trading route. Modern Kiev probably owes much to those centuries of rule.

It’s easy, of course, to get lost in the ramblings of history, to find ourselves connecting Kievan Rus’ to the present in a direct line, and, what’s more, to think about the Ostrogoths that came before that as somehow connected to the fairly ridiculous historical comparison we made last time with Visigothic maraudings in reverse. We could continue that and say that we are fighting the next battle in our made up war, moving from Italy to the Ukraine (with Barcelona as a proxy for the actual Ukraine), and ending up in Russia on Matchday 3, but that, of course, seems even more far-fetched than it did the first time I went about it.

Whether Lobanovskyi ever tried to channel Vladimir or Yaroslav, we’ll never know–perhaps there are better historical equivalents, but, again, I never did study Europe and I’m far too lazy to do a truly in-depth look at the history of these countries–but certainly there are connections between the Ukraine of footballing antiquity and our modern Barcelona-based juggernaut. Valeriy Vasylyovych Lobanovskyi, for those of you who are unaware, is one of the fathers of modern football. There are, of course, disputes about who developed what or influenced who, but it’s generally accepted that Lobanovskyi was one of the first to push players into that realm of physicality that allowed them to run for 90 minutes, to play, in essence, Total Football because they could stand the pace and no one else could.

September 17, 2009 / / Champions League

Please: 0.40

Put it a different way: 11-1.

Those numbers are, of course, from a very small sample, but would you take those numbers as a ratio for the entire season? I would because I know that the first one is Ibrahimovic’s current scoring rate (5 appearances, 2 goals) and the second goal is our total goals scored to goals allowed. Feel free to extrapolate that to how many goals would be scored in an entire year: 16 goals for Ibra if he makes 40 appearances, 113.67-10.33 in a 62-game season.

My point is, of course, that we need to take a moment to look at the overall picture, the picture that keeps in mind not the price paid for a particular player, but the value of that player within the greater framework of our club and our club’s future. Yes, we’ve had some “funky” displays over the last few games, but during those “funky” displays, we’ve successfully won five out of six matches and we drew the other one. We’ve allowed one goal. We’ve scored 11 from six different players. We’ve incorporated a major new piece of the total footballing puzzle and have been attempting to change our tactical approach in every match. This is not a momentary effort, a light switch that goes from off to on.

zlatancrowd
No pressure or anything…

September 17, 2009 / / Champions League
Dude. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Gimme that ball.
Dude. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Gimme that ball.

I’m a little irritated right now, so pardon me if a bit of it seeps into this review of a match in which only one team came to really play football. And that’s fine. We should expect that. Why, oh why would any side in its right mind come out to play against us? All that awaits is death. So Inter took the same route as Chelsea, and Deportivo, and every other inferior side.

Keep 9 or 10 behind the ball, and stick your legs out.

September 16, 2009 / / Champions League

Inter Vs Barcelona (CL)

September 15, 2009 / / Champions League

milan-duomo

Champions League Preview: Inter – Barça, 2:45pmEST Wednesday, Fox Sports en Español (FSE).

I flew into Milan on a bright and beautiful morning in November 2006, having left Berlin early enough to catch the sun’s raise hitting the streets for what looked like the first time that day. As we swooped into Malpensa Airport, I was met by the panorama of a city that is know world-wide for being cosmopolitan, for being the nexus of fashion, design, and, lately, aging footballers. It looks stunningly gorgeous, as Italian as it gets, and certainly a welcoming destination. I never did see the Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, though, because I quickly boarded another plane to head to Florence for a week of unadulterated sight-seeing and Tuscan sun basking. On my way back, thanks to an unrelenting bank of fog that closed the Florence airport, I was taken by bus by Alitalia through twisting mountain roads and tunnels and finally back to the airport late at night for a then-delayed flight to Berlin.

None of this was Milan’s fault, of course, but I was left, after my 14-hour travel day that should have been 5 hours long, semi cursing the city for having the temerity to be in my plans on a fairly obliterated day. That I still didn’t get to see the monumental stadium that is the San Siro was merely an added bonus in a long list of pejoratives that I used to describe all things northern Italian for a day or two, when I was able to refocus my distaste for transit authorities and metropolitan areas on the MTA, who, as luck would have it, delayed me a few hours in getting home because of random track work in New Jersey between Newark and Penn Station.

September 15, 2009 / / Champions League
September 14, 2009 / / Champions League
Hey, a boy could get used to this....
Hey, a boy could get used to this....

–The Cecs Fabregas and Javi Mascherano rumors will not die, probably because Hector keeps SMSing Txiki B. “Dood. Masch=$$$$! Bet!” Txiki B. says that the signing of either member of the midfield tandem of joy is “something the club has left for later.” He said that fiscally, it just didn’t make sense to try nabbing them in the climate set up by some Evil Empire tossing Euro banknotes about like confetti. Hmph.

Benitez still says that Mascherano isn’t for sale, and Arsene Wenger is said to be working up a “right smart” Gallic snit, before he comments further. Personally, I think that all the club has to do is send him the above picture from his Barca past, with a note: “Still winning, you could be here.”

August 27, 2009 / / Champions League

chiggy

Here he is, making it verrrry clear how he prefers to have his name spelled, folks. It’s the latest addition to our back line, Dmytro Chygrynskiy or, as he prefers the back of the shirt to say, Chygrynskyy.

But let’s just agree to call him Chygnasty, and be done with it, shall we?

His transfer will be announced on Saturday, after he makes an appearance at the christening of a new stadium, as we agreed with Shakhtar’s boss. So welcome (almost) Chygnasty.

More on the long-tressed defender. He’s 22 years old, from Iziaslav, Ukraine. He’s 6’3″ tall, or 1.9m for you metric-sized folks. His strengths, as have already been laid out in videos here and here, are positioning, height, long passing, attack starting and heading ability. And having watched those videos again, I must say that I love his defensive positioning. Keep in mind that highlight videos never show the clunkers, but he reminds me so much of Piquenbauer, but….