Archive | Thoughts

Yes, Messi’s broke, aka “The rush to blame shouldn’t bypass a mirror”


Injuries are part of athletics. The capriciousness of the human body, ergonomics, a way of movement that is just fine a million times but is NOT fine a million and one times … it’s all part of the deal. There’s never a good time for them, particularly when they involve the best player alive, Lionel Messi. But essentially, stuff happens.

And as people natter, speculate and finger point about what might or might not have been, why a great player is suddenly being let down by a stupid body part, it’s hard not to wonder, once again, what is going on with Lionel Messi.

He hasn’t really been right since pulling up lame on a Paris cow pasture, but it has always been “two weeks.” Two weeks here, two weeks there and pretty soon you’re not only talking about real time, but unavoidably, you start to wonder … what if it should be more than two weeks? And then you don’t wonder, because what supporter, what devotee of the Beautiful Game isn’t selfish? Messi does the absurd. All the time. Goals that would make a mortal player pose, rip off his shirt and retire from the game, Messi knocks off, points to the sky to say “That’s another one for you, Grandma,” and gets set to do it again.

Who doesn’t want to see that? Who doesn’t want to still the thought that maybe, just maybe, people are conspiring to kill the golden goose. Ssssh! Just give No. 10 the ball and let him play when he wants.
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Posted in Analysis, Injuries, Thoughts44 Comments

Betis 1, Barça 4, aka “Plan A, B and C … What sort of madness is this?”


“This was an intelligent win,” said the team’s coach, Gerardo Martino.

While it’s always tempting to analyze statements, like when someone says “You look nice today,” and your thought is “What, do I look like crap all the other days,” that analysis is often dangerous. But let’s have a little look at it, just for fun.

This team has been pragmatic, pretty, direct and any other modifier that you want to throw at a football club. But for me, what made Martino’s statement so true is that the club let Betis kill themselves. It used the space they left, the weaknesses they displayed the flaws in their approach. It was a win based in malleability and understanding, one of those wins after which an opponent says “How the hell did THAT happen?”
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Posted in La Liga, Review, Thoughts42 Comments

Of Ibra, Identity and the Differing Attitudes towards Sports Stars


Because she doesn’t have a mod’s login any longer, I have to publish this under my name. But this is an absolutely fascinating piece on the psychology of Ibrahimovic, and why he didn’t fit it at Barça, by Kari. It’s lovely to have her voice in these parts again, and let’s hope this isn’t a one-off.

A man sits on a barcalounger, hands folded in his lap as gazes out the window. His therapist listens attentively as he says, “My life right now is really good. I have a wife and two kids, live in a sunny, dream destination town, my co-workers are nice, upstanding guys, the workplace environment is very healthy, and I’m doing really well at my dream job where I make an obscene amount of money.”

The man pauses, scrubs at his face. “But I feel so…empty inside. My confidence is at an all time low, and I don’t feel like myself at all. I’m in this funk, you know, feel really depressed all the time, and I don’t – I don’t understand.”

So an interesting thing happened the other day. We won a Clasico and I was exiled out of the house because people couldn’t stand seeing my smiling mug derping all over the place. Okay, not actually true – I decided to go out myself, but at any rate I ended up going to a local bookstore (complete with comfy chairs and a Starbucks) because that’s what I do for fun.
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Posted in Analysis, Book Reviews, Thoughts136 Comments

Myths, legends and difficult times for a football club, aka “The myth of Pep”


So, there was this lumberjack named Paul Bunyan, and what a lumberjack he was. When he came into the world, it took not one, but five storks to bring him home. His hand claps and laughter broke windows and he was sawing legs off beds even though he could barely walk. He made a mountain, though he didn’t really know he was doing so, simply by piling rocks to put out his Bunyan-sized campfire.

Mes que un lumberjack Bunyan is described as being “64 axe handles high,” which by the 18-inch measurement of the average axe handle, makes him about 95 feet tall. And he traveled with the only blue ox in the history of mankind, Babe, who was sized to the same colossal scale as Paul Bunyan.
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Posted in History/Culture, Soap Box, Thoughts129 Comments

Barça 2, RM 1, aka “The boy has put away childish things, and become a man”


Narratives. Quite a lot happened in the match today, an event that pundits and ancillary critters have weighed in on and found wanting. Not surprisingly, I think they are dead wrong, and not just because I am a culer. Today’s match for me, the first time the teams have met in 8 months (as opposed to the frustrating regularity that defined the rivalry in recent seasons), signified that our sprites have grown up.

This was a man’s match, a calm, pragmatic thing that was exactly what it had to be when it had to be, a match in which one team in effect, put away childish things to potentially reach that next level. That alone made it fascinating to watch.
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Posted in La Liga, Thoughts140 Comments

It’s time … Classic time, aka “Be happy I’m not Barça coach”

"Who's thirsty? I am! What are you thirsty for? Three guesses ..."

“Who’s thirsty? I am! What are you thirsty for? Three guesses …”

Yikes. Portents, anguish, violence, history, independence chants, the Best Player in the World vs the Best Player in the Galaxy … it’s the end of the world as we know it.

The Liga is in the balance, don’t ya know, as our beloved sprites stagger into this match off the heels of two … count ‘em … TWO draws, as RM roll into the Camp Nou having won its last two matches. Oh, lawd, hide the Catalan women and children (never mind, they can’t get in anyhow), because it’s going to be ugly. Our defense can’t stop a schoolboy team from scoring, and legend has it that RM has a pair of colossi that doth bestride the earth, clearing countries at a single bound.

It’s so daunting that I am not even going to watch, preferring instead to cower in a corner, bleating in the hopes my mommy’s sixth mama sense will kick off and make her rush to my side to rescue me.

“Son! What’s the matter, son!”
“It’s those things in the white. Why are they killing my little ones? Make it stop! (whimper)”

Or maybe not. Maybe, what if this is just a football match, portents, weight and zillions of Euros in transfer fees and salaries aside. What if this is just the two of the best teams in the world, knocking heads in an early-season encounter that will decide about feck all.
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Posted in La Liga, Thoughts27 Comments

Evolution and our beloved football club, aka “Martino is going to need a hug … soon!”


Yikes. It isn’t often that an opinion piece sparks a post outta me, but this one has done it. But it hasn’t done it out of sheer boneheadedness, which I think the post has in spades. It’s also a question of right questions, wrong conclusions that have their roots in devotion to a player, rather than to a club. It is still FC Barcelona, rather than FC Messi, something a lot of culers, including the abovementioned piece’s author, forget.

But let’s get to it. We have a lot of ground to cover.

The author asks the question, what if the team’s biggest problem is the decline of Iniesta? Good question, and one that I agree with in parts, even as I don’t think the question is framed properly. For me, the question is a more difficult one:

Is Andres Iniesta in his present state, fully compatible with Barça any longer?
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Posted in Analysis, Champions League, La Liga, Thoughts65 Comments

Diving, embellishing, tactics and cheating, aka “This is a man’s world, until it isn’t”


Neymar is a diver. Come on, right? We all know it, and we knew it when we bought him. Diver. Shameful. Right?

Wrong. Further, the campaign to label him one is disgusting. It’s an effort to cover a player with crap before he even has a chance to develop ANY sort of image or reputation at all. Mourinho claimed that he dived against Celtic. Culers who should know better are saying that he is a diver. It’s all rather shameful.

HAS Neymar dived? Yep. Name me an attacker who hasn’t. On more than one occasion. Rooney? Yup. Suarez? Please. Iniesta? Yep. Pedro? Yep. Cuenca? Yep. Drogba, Torres, Cole? Yep, yep and you betcha.

Are they divers? Be careful how you answer that one.
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Posted in La Liga, Thoughts145 Comments

Celtic 0, Barça 1, aka “Another day, another test”


Another day, another moving target for our wee ones.

Levante wasn’t fit to be in the Liga. Wait til Malaga.
Malaga was down on its luck. Wait til Rayo.
Rayo had more possession, we got lucky. Wait til La Real.
Yeah, whatever. La Real are playing like crap. Wait to see what happens against Celtic. And without Messi!
We won, but now Celtic isn’t good enough. So we’ll see who’s next.

This was a very interesting match, because it isn’t often that you get to see a new coach against the same European opponent. And boy, was today fascinating.
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Posted in Analysis, Champions League, Thoughts261 Comments

Almeria 0, Barça 2, aka “FC Barcelona: We create drama”


Can little people run hurdles? If so, yet another one was leapt today as FC Barcelona has gotten off to the best start in club history.

— Better than last season, in which the club won a Liga in record-settings style
— Better than any of the Guardiola years
— Just plain better

And on a day when Chelsea drew and both Manchesters lost, our club went about its business-as-usual with high style at times, but with more than enough effectiveness to get the job done. Another win, another three points, another clean sheet.
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Posted in La Liga, Thoughts97 Comments

The right thing the wrong way, aka “You models can’t feed me ice cream until your hair is perfect.”

The original FC Barcelona tactical manual (not actual size)

The original FC Barcelona tactical manual (not actual size)

Once upon a time, there was a man. He was a humble man, who went about his humble way, doing humble things. And yea, verily, though he doth kicketh a football around, it was in the most humble way possible.

Then, one day, during his most humble of kickabouts with his most humble of friends, a great shaft of light shone from above. Struck dumb with reverence and awe, the humble men, led by the humble man, quaked in fear. And then, in a voice trembling with fear, in part because his brain was also trying to calculate how much injury time would need to be added, he asked “Wh … what dost thou want with us, most humble of men that we are?”

And a voice like thunder, issued from the glittering column. “Take this. Read this. For verily, this is the way.”

Then the world returned to normal, except for these stone tablets, that were still warm from their otherworldly passage into the hands of these most humble of men. And on those stone tablets were written many things, but first was this:

The Barça Way
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Posted in La Liga, Thoughts263 Comments

The burden of expectations, aka “We’re doomed … I think”

"Didn't I used to suck?"

“Didn’t I used to suck?”

I just want to make sure that I understand this correctly:

FC Barcelona won its opening Champions League match 4-0 over Ajax. The team is still unbeaten this season, and perfect in two competitions.

Okay. Got it.

Like Victor Valdes, Barça is this thing that nobody will realize is as good as it is, until it is gone. And make no mistake, this glorious, winning, conquering team will, at some point in the not all that distant future, be gone.

I’m not sure how people will take it. Will buildings have to bolt windows shut to keep people from leaping from them? Will the FC Barcelona bandwagon blow a strut from all the people leaping off it at the same time? Lord knows. (Shudder!) Meanwhile …
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Posted in Soap Box, Thoughts151 Comments

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