March 31, 2010 / / Champions League

“Let me up, so that I can score some more, please.”

Yes he’s under there, my Man of the Match, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored the brace and more importantly two precious away goals that give us a significant advantage going into the home leg. This was an oddball, bittersweet match that shouldn’t have ended the way that it did.

For that, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Did Fabergas dive? This is debatable, and will be one of those matters of perspective, like Chelsea being cheated in last year’s semis. I’ve watched it a number of times now, and I have to say that I don’t think he dove. I think that he made the most of the contact with Puyol, but what player doesn’t do that in the box?

But if Puyol doesn’t whiff on clearing the pass from Walcott, who was busy making Maxwell his punk, then Fabregas isn’t in a position to dive. If Busquets doesn’t make a stupid, stupid play that gifts Arsenal possession on the break, then we don’t even concede that first goal. To win championships, you have to play championship football.
Read MoreArsenal 2, Barca 2, a.k.a. “Whine, whine, whine, but we screwed the pooch”

March 19, 2010 / / Thoughts
We've seen this matchup before...

When I saw the CL draw this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of reactions would occur on this blog. It’s a fairly good mix of the positive, distraught, and absurd, which I suppose is fairly natural. Had I listed the teams I wanted to face in the quarters, Arsenal would have been third behind the two French teams (Bordeaux and Lyon).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Arsenal is weak–not in the least, not with players like Arshavin, Cesc, and Nasri, to name just 3–instead they play a style that I think is enjoyable to watch and when you combine two beautiful styles, you often come up with a run-and-gun classic. Or sometimes you come up with the 2006 final, which was robbed of some of its style by Lehmann’s red card. I think this is going to be a tremendous couple of games and I hope they live up to my expectations. We aren’t going to paste them 4-0 like we did Stuttgart and they’re not going to paste us 5-0 like they did Porto.

Read MoreReactions: Arsenal and the Road to the Bernabeu

March 19, 2010 / / Champions League
Hmmm .... I still know Catalan ....

It’s the Gunners.

For those living under a rock or something, the Champions League draw was held today, for the final 8 teams and their seedings. We draw Arsenal in the quarter-finals, setting up a nightmare draw for both sides, frankly, and a feeding frenzy for the Spanish press.

Will Cesc or won’t Cesc? What of the beautiful game? Should Arsenal reopen Highbury to shrink the pitch from our expansive football? Will Henry have a conniption at having to face his former club in such a crucial tie?

Ah, gotta love European football.
Read MoreIt’s Arsenal, a.k.a. “The road to ****** goes through London”

March 14, 2010 / / La Liga
Quick! Get me more relatives cousins!

Wow! Our Man of the Match, Lionel Messi, should decicate more goals to the daughter of his cousin. What a knockout match by our little wizard (eventually), and what a display by our team (again, eventually).

Believe it or not MOTM wasn’t easy. Could it have been Victor Valdes, for his three goal-saving efforts, including an absolutely massive 1-v-1 stop against Nicola Zigic? Yes. Could it have been Thierry Henry, for his injection of whatever in the hell it was that made the difference in the second half? Sure. Could we have broken precedent, and given MOTM to a non-player in Tito Vilanova, who either read the players the riot act, or put Guardiola on speakerphone in the locker room? Why not?
Read MoreBarca 3, Valencia 0, a.k.a “Pressure equals destruction”

March 11, 2010 / / Team News
Sure, dude. Can I get back to my UNICEF thing now?

Awwwww! Our own Lionel Messi has been appointed a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, a charity that also adorns the front of our shirts.

The deal is that he trots around, makes magic and does things that bring awareness to the plight of the young’uns everywhere. He joins Shakira, Roger Moore and Queen Rania of Jordan, who are also in the UNICEF ambassador ranks. And personally, I would do anything that Shakira tells me to. I’m just saying.
Read MoreNews of the day, March 11

March 8, 2010 / / Thoughts

Today on my lovely walk to the grocery store, I was able to think about a few things, as I am wont to do while walking. I had been reminded by reading this post at Avoiding the Drop before leaving the house that not all was right in the world and so I mentally revisited the tortuous ground of Spanish league tiebreaker scenarios. This is not a quick and clean set of rules, but RFEF spells them out in Chapter 4, Article 296.2 of their Relgamento General (see page 174):

Si al término del campeonato resultara empate dos clubs, se resolverá por la mayor diferencia de goles a favor, sumados los en pro y en contra según el resultado de los dos partidos jugados entre ellos; si así no se dilucidase, se decidirá también por la mayor diferencia de goles a favor, pero teniendo en cuenta todos los obtenidos y recibidos en el transcurso de la competición; de ser idéntica la diferencia, resultará campeón el que hubiese marcado más tantos.

This translates to:

If at the end of the championship, the result is two clubs drawing, the winner will be the club with a greater goal difference (the sum of goals for and against from the two matches played between them); if there is still no difference, the winner will be the club with the greater goal difference from the whole competition; if the goal difference is identical, the champion will be the club that has scored the most goals.

Read MoreRevisiting an Old Friend: Tie-Breakers

March 7, 2010 / / La Liga

La Diada de Sant Jordi, in Catalan culture, usually comes on April 23. Women are given a gift of roses, and respected men are given books.

In an early variant, we gave Almeria a draw. Rather nice (and charitable) of us, don’t you think? People can chatter all they want about officiating, and dives, and unfair red cards all they like, but the fact of the matter is that we played like crap for most of that match, and still came away with a draw.

Which means what? Lord only knows, from our team that doesn’t seem to be able to find a consistent groove.
Read MoreAlmeria 2, Barca 2, aka “Sant Jordi comes early this year.”

March 5, 2010 / / Team News

To start with, an apology: No new posts for some two days has the suck. We’re aware of this, and it doesn’t fill our hearts with song. It won’t happen again.

Now, to begin with, an interesting perspective on the Eto’o-Ibrahimovic swap. No, it doesn’t come from a “reputable news source,” but precious little does in this world of ours. The long and short of it is that we came out ahead. Now, I know that this startles some people, who believe that the Ibrahimovic experiment isn’t working and “Lord, how I wish we had Eto’o back.”

But the piece is worth a read.
Read MoreNews of the day, March 5, 2010

February 22, 2010 / / Injuries
So good I have to kiss myself!

We have a few things to discuss, as per some of the very interesting points raised in the aftermath of our rather lackluster victory against Racing, including the qualities of one Sergi Busquets.

But first, some news:

–Aleksandr Hleb says that a resurgent Stuttgart have a “10 percent” shot against us in our upcoming Champions League match. The good thing for us is that we start the tie at their house, which means that if we can steal an away goal or two, we’re sitting pretty for the home leg.

There is, of course, bad news ….
Read MoreYou can keep Fabregas, we’ll take Busquets, and other news

February 3, 2010 / / Team News
Money! Yeeeaaah, that's what I want!

The price of success can almost be quantified. Whether justified or not, every player involved in that success, if they have a contract that is anywhere in the realm of being up for renewal, wants more money. Mo, mo, mo, mo.

Dani Alves is no exception. We have fiscal complexities at every turn. Gerard Pique is up for a renewal, and we have to deal with the kids. But also, we have our Brazilian Hummingbird who, dependent upon who you read, is either unsettled or not going anywhere.
Read MoreWhat’s Dani worth, a.k.a “Pay the man!

February 2, 2010 / / Team News
Dammit, Wayne! I said no, dude!

Guess who is 23 years old today? If you guessed Gerard Pique, you guessed right. The central defender, a canterano who returned home last season, also has the distinction of being one of only three players to have won Champions League glory in consecutive seasons, with different clubs.

He’s been capped 13 times, but you can look for many more, as the man whom we have all affectionately dubbed “Piquenbauer” for his dashing forward runs with the ball, is only just learning to become the defender that he is. And who remembers that Piquenbauer’s first Spanish goal was a match-winner, in a Copa tie against Espanyol? Very cool.

So happy birthday, Pique, and many more (in the colors, of course!)
Read MoreWhoa! News! aka, “Not more Fabregas nonsense,” happy b-day, Piquenbauer!

February 1, 2010 / / Barcelona

As many of you know, it’s crunch time for our next generation of La Masia jewels. The contracts of Thiago Alcantara, Jeffren Suarez, Gai Assulin, and Jonathan Dos Santos who happen to be our best prospects at the Barca Athletic level ALL expire this spring. That means they can either resign professional contracts with Barca or leave on a free transfer. As can be expected, the (mostly EPL) vultures are out and circling. With elections being postponed until June, it seems that Guardiola and Txiki will have to force their hands before the new administration takes over. Adding to the tension is the proximity of a free transfer giving our canteranos’ agents a significant upper hand in negotiations. As much as it hurts, we will likely not be able to keep all of our guys. So, let’s have a little discussion about which ones will/should stay and which ones will/should go. Mug shots and profiles of our enfants terrible follow: Read MoreLes Enfants Terrible: The Next Generation