Category:

Messi

April 25, 2015 / / Analysis
April 22, 2015 / / Champions League

Drama.

In contemplation of the remainder of this Champions League, the only available word is … drama.

Draw Juventus, and there’s drama about the bus. Draw RM and there’s drama about more Classics (even though the CL encounters aren’t Classics, but that’s another matter). Draw Bayern and the world implodes on its axis.

In anticipation of this last possibility, people are already staking out space, ground high and low, moral and more moral, real fan vs non-real fan, donning psychic armor for the battles to come. And this is before the draw. It’s like the football Crusades as supporters hoist shields and spears aloft, rushing to ideological battle. Over what?

We love this sport. Football is passion. It’s life. But it’s also supposed to be joy, fun. I see a number 10 Ronaldinho shirt and still remember the wonder of his time at Barça, not for the goals but for the fun. The game was fun, life was fun as joy was a single booty pass away. Today, in the quests for records, piles and piles of goals and conquest, it all seems a lot less fun as the team that we love prepares to face off against the best clubs in Europe. Exciting times lay ahead, whatever the outcome.
Read MoreThe Crusades of football opinion

April 21, 2015 / / Analysis
April 18, 2015 / / Analysis
April 15, 2015 / / Champions League
April 11, 2015 / / Analysis

suarez

Everything in sport comes down to a moment, sometimes less. Races are lost in hundredths of a second, a moment’s hesitation allows an opponent to get free. A moment is nothing, but sometimes it’s everything.

Barça’s draw to Sevilla came down to a trio of moments, all of which went Sevilla’s way: a Suarez miss, a Bravo misplay and a Pique giveaway. Another time, those plays go differently. Against a lesser opponent, the counterattacks don’t have the precision that Sevilla’s did. But on this day, these three moments were decisive.

More fascinating is that the moments and the resultant mistakes all have roots in how an exceptionally talented player is, which will directly affect the decision that he makes.
Read MoreSevilla 2, Barça, aka “Moments change a lot”

April 10, 2015 / / Analysis

Fate owes us.

At the end of what seems an interminable cycle of fear, loathing and heartache, that damsel has some blaugrana debts to pay.

The notion of a team or group of supporters being “due” is an odd one, but for the record and from this chair, Fate owes the hell out of us. And as the team heads for Sevilla tomorrow, 4 points in the Liga lead with 8 matches to go, the Pollyanna in me just refuses to believe that Fate intends to be that cruel.

It has been quite a travail being a culer these past seasons. And whether Job and his trials, Sisyphus and his quest or any other figure of legend you can think of in an analogous fashion, it ain’t been easy. Let’s exclude the difficulties of the board’s own making and just manage things such as illness, death, personal tragedies befalling players and injuries galore. This stuff all combines to leave a culer wondering just when in the hell our beloved club is going to catch a break.
Read MoreBelieving the unbelievable as the countdown begins

March 22, 2015 / / El Clasico

mathieu

This is the part where the joy dissipates into a blizzard of muttering, whining and beating on unfavored whipping boys. But I am impatient with that kind of stuff, so permit me to present a wee bit of perspective at the end of a fascinating, tiring, fraught day.

As one of my favorite Twitter accounts posted, Classics are to be endured, rather than enjoyed. If you are a supporter, you don’t enjoy them. You can’t. There’s just too much in it. You fret, you scream, you pace, you sweat, the anguish is almost a palpable thing in the room. But this was an extraordinary match for so many reasons.

This was really a tale of two matches and two very different sets of tactics. Barça started out the match in the wide-open, let’s do this style that lets Messi, Neymar and Suarez do their thing. The danger in that approach, however, was multifaceted. That style of play takes a lot of energy, because there is a lot of running. Spaces are bigger, passes are longer, runs are more constant. The sharpness and awareness necessitated by this style means that if any part of the machine isn’t at all sharp, things are going to look a mess.
Read MoreBarça 2, RM 1, aka “A tale of two matches.”

March 22, 2015 / / Analysis

Mere hours away now, as that weird feeling starts to build. For me, the left corner of my mouth begins to twitch involuntarily, a stress reaction. So let’s think about some stuff, to take our minds off.

A great many things were different when these two teams last squared off. RM was the best team that anyone had ever seen except for maybe Guardiola’s Barça. Ronaldo was BdO rampant and Kroos was daisy-fresh.

On the Barça side of the aisle there was much uncertainty. Suarez started, even though he was nothing approximating match fit or confident, and Enrique was still figuring out the parts that he had to work with.

My, how times change. Time to look at some key battlegrounds for this one, and try to suss what might happen.
Read MoreClassic tactics, and just how important IS the midfield today?

March 20, 2015 / / Analysis