December 19, 2009 / / Club World Cup
A lad could get used to this....
A lad could get used to this....

Great galloping Jesus, what a match. Pedro! sums up how I think we all feel here, in the wake of a gritty victory that found us not even approaching our dazzling, sparkling best, a victory that defines this club in a way that few others have, and that left me weeping right along with Pep Guardiola.

6 trophies, 6 competitions, less than 12 months. Pause for a second, to let that one sink in, then we’ll continue.
Read MoreBarca 2, Estudiantes 1, a.k.a. “Hexacampions,” a.k.a. “Greatest of all TIIIEEEME!”

December 17, 2009 / / Champions League

So, here’s the deal. The Champions League knockout stage draw is tomorrow, and from what I see, we have a big ol’ pigpile of beatability staring at us. Potential opponents are CSKA Moscow (Drugs? Cold medicine, dude!), Milan, Bayern, Lyon, Porto, Olympiakos or Stuttgart. Now, I’m not counting my chickens before they’re hatched, but winning the group came with its own special prize in a favorable draw in the crucial first knockout stage.

[polldaddy poll=2401347]

Read MoreHere we go, kids, pick your Champions League poison

December 17, 2009 / / Club World Cup
If you look up, you'll see my ankle fairies.
If you look up, you'll see my ankle fairies.

Okay. Is it just me, or was that about the most boring dismantling of a side that I have witnessed in the semi-finals of a not-particularly-major competition?

Just asking.

I mean don’t get me wrong, the win is nice, as our beloved club goes for its 6th trophy in just barely over 6 months. But Mexican side Atlante, once they scraped out a wonder goal, never really looked like doing anything more than scrimmaging with us, particularly Guardiola walked over to Cabinet No. 10, the one marked “in case of trouble, break glass.”
Read MoreBarca 3, Atlante 1, a.k.a. “Workmanlike excellence”

December 11, 2009 / / Champions League
Ain't my fault, dude.
Ain't my fault, dude.

Ah, the debate that roiled….

In the comments of Isaiah’s most excellent match review, Abidal was called out for the free header that the Dynamo player had, and really should have scored from, off a set piece. I defended Abidal, and it was pointed out that he was slack on marking his man, he’s done it before, etc.

Watch the video again.
Read MoreBarca/Dynamo Kyiv, the points, a.k.a. “Whinnnny! Whinnnny!”

December 6, 2009 / / Thoughts
Sacre bleu that's a lot of scapgoats
Sacre bleu that's a lot of scapgoats

No, Kevin hasn’t stolen my password and logged in as me to write this and I’m still not a Les Bleus fan or anything like that, but I do think it’s high time I took a stand on this issue. The issue is not really about Thierry Henry or Sergi Busquets or Lionel Messi, but it takes the form of Thierry Henry.

What appears to be happening is that people are taking their personal whims out on Henry, disregarding his actual contributions on the field and replacing what he actually did with what they would like him to have done. If you’ve read this site or its previous iteration long enough, you’ll know that I’m not unbiased, that I often make opinionated comments about particular players and am sometimes overly zealous about running players out of town if I deem them surplus to my own strange requirements. And before this gets going, I want everyone to know that disagreement with my opinions here or belief that you are one of the people I’m talking about doesn’t equate me judging you or holding it against you because, to be honest, I’ve forgotten who the specific people making these points were. Read MoreNice Run: In Defense of Thierry Henry

December 5, 2009 / / La Liga
It's little. Like Messi.
It's little. Like Messi.

Yay for us, for winning at the Riazor for the first time since Wifred the Hairy ruled Catalunya.

Or something like that. And I was just about to say something impossibly stupid like “For me, this win is more exciting than the Clasic win because of what it represents.”

Then I remembered almost crapping my trou when Ibra’s glorious strike went in, and I reconsidered. But just so everyone will know that yes, I am prone to bouts of monstrous stupidity, the thought remains.
Read MoreDeportivo 1, Barca 3, a.k.a. “I head a ball into the air….”

December 4, 2009 / / Thoughts
December 3, 2009 / / La Liga
This is how bad I want it....
This is how bad I want it....

As James Brown sang in the amazing “Mind Power,” You know, we’re dealing with a very critical and crucial time, the most critical and crucial time that I’ve ever witnessed …. the educators, they call it ESP, positive thinking right? Some of the people over there on the other side of the pond call it mind vibrations. But I call it what it is is what it is.

So what your mind does is, it tells you things, even though you don’t want to listen to it. If you’re the mighty FC Barcelona, kings of all you survey, your mind is telling you “Dude. Chill. What have these guys scored, like 4 goals or something? We got this. Just relax.”

If you’re bottom-feeding Xerez, what your mind is saying is “You can make history today, if you find more than you think you have, more than you will ever have again. Be mighty. Now get to work.”
Read MoreXerez 0, Barca 2, a.k.a. “Sleepwalk your way to success.”

November 30, 2009 / / Thoughts

I rushed my review out the door last night, which is why I forgot a couple of things that I had originally intended to discuss and which, had I not been attempting to live a normal life wherein I hung out with the woman I love instead of blathering on to you about various maroon and blue clad men playing keepaway on the other side of the ocean, would have kept me from having to write this post now. Since I’m separated from my precious lady for the next few hours by this whole “work” concept, I have the time to go ahead and cover that which I failed to do last night.

There has been some rather rampant commenting about Busi’s current level of performance, not least of which came from me in my review. I’m not above (or below) saying that I’m still not happy with Busi’s performance in the clásico win, despite several commenters making valid points about his contributions. Read MoreBusi and The Future of Barça

November 19, 2009 / / Thoughts
Happier World Cup days for Titi
Happier World Cup days for Titi

Thierry Henry handled the ball. We all know that. The rules state that you cannot do that. If you do do that, there are punishments to be handed down. Those punishments are also in the rules. Others are saying, basically, “What boggles the mind is that there are people who are disputing whether or not he handled the ball” but I’m just going to throw this out there: I’ve seen no one make that claim. Not even Thierry Henry.

Whatever you previously thought of Thierry Henry and whatever you think of him now, it’s fairly obvious that he’ll be ridiculed for a while and no doubt reviled in Ireland. I hope he’s already visited there because I don’t see him getting a visa now. The thing is, holding it against him personally is pretty silly. Do you hold Maradona’s Hand of God goal against him, treating him as a “cheat” instead of a visionary player? Sure, he sucks as a coach, but it’s doubtful anyone really holds that handball against him some 20 years on. Maybe a couple of people in England, but really, who cares at this point? Read MoreHandballs and Hindsight Calls: The Thierry Henry Story

November 19, 2009 / / Thoughts

I’m going to begin this piece by saying what some of you already know, but for those who don’t: I love Les Bleus. I picked them to go all the way in 2006, and I will pick them again in 2010 (hey, that rhymed). I was thrilled when the goal was scored in extra time yesterday, actually screaming and falling off my office chair. There was even a big ‘ol lump in my throat from the joy, a joy tainted with sadness because this meant that Ruh-Roh Dumbassnech would remain as the France coach.

Then I saw the replay of the goal.

And I didn’t feel like crying any more. I wanted to hide my head in shame as a surrogate for Thierry Henry.
Read MoreBile and vituperaion, a.k.a. “L’Affaire Henry”

November 16, 2009 / / Statistics
Nate Silver: Rock Star
Nate Silver: Rock Star

I like Nate Silver. I read his political blog virtually every day and followed it religiously during the 2008 presidential election cycle here in the US. He’s a man who knows his statistics and also his sports: he writes for Baseball Prospectus and uses more decimals than I do. A lot more. So yeah, I like Nate Silver and when I learned that he was involved in ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI), I was pretty excited. After all, Nate has a bigger brain than I do and maybe I would be able to learn a few things about approaching football/soccer statistically.

Nate’s article is here. The actual SPI rankings are here and you can the full methodology here. You can read about how smart the guy is here. Read MorePandora’s Box: Statistics in Football