November 27, 2009 / / El Clasico
November 26, 2009 / / El Clasico
November 26, 2009 / / Team News
November 26, 2009 / / El Clasico
November 25, 2009 / / El Clasico
November 25, 2009 / / El Clasico
November 25, 2009 / / El Clasico
November 25, 2009 / / Champions League

Adios PupiYou know better, but you stare anyway, unable to resist. Your breath is ragged, your legs jelly beneath you, the bitter taste of acid in your mouth, your sweat suddenly cold even as you know you’re overheating. It’s hard to imagine a worse fate that watching your enemy take pleasure in your miserable end, but here you are, riveted, unable to run, unable to scream for help.

You are the hunted, they are the hunters–it’s like the footballing equivalent of “The Most Dangerous Game“. That, to me, is what it must have been like to be an Inter midfielder during yesterday’s match, awed by the sheer skills and silkiness of our midfield panthers assassins, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. Despite our lineup being a 4-3-3 by design, we played almost a 4-4-2 that allowed Iniesta free reign through the middle, playing that sunken striker role that we’ve seen Messi working on for the last few weeks.

Sometimes you feel like a fool because you deployed a meaningless set of midfielders in a tactical formation that would hardly give (cough Mourinho cough) and sometimes you fail to realize how good the entire squad of your favorite team is and guess they’re going to draw 1-1 in a crucial match at home (cough er, no one! who would do such a thing? cough). Without Ibra, Messi, and The Yaya, what chance did we have against a side feature the likes of…wait, who do they have again? Because I can’t remember a single one of their players making any sort of a contribution, unless you count kicking the legs of blaugrana-clad players a contribution. In which case Lucio, Chivu, and Thiago Motta all played. And Diego Milito almost lost his life by bumping Puyol. Does he not know that he can kill people with his hair via judo-esque moves? It’s true! Read MoreBarça 2 – 0 Inter Milan: The Twin Hounds of Hell

November 24, 2009 / / Champions League
November 23, 2009 / / Champions League

CL Preview: Barcelona – Internazionale, Tuesday 2:45pm EST, Fox Soccer en Español and DirectTV

Barcelona at Dusk

Night falls swiftly across the city. The sun’s final rays reach out and strike the towers of the modern cathedral, its spindly form outlined momentarily against the darkening sky. Streetlights are on, illuminating cobblestone streets that intersect with sharp-angled apartment buildings built in the latest, most outlandish style.

Near the waterfront, where tourists often pack the cafes and restaurants, there is the distinct feeling of meshing centuries of culture with the neon shopping malls of international consumerism, of mountains of money failing to find their way through the dimly lit back alleys to where normal people live. But away from that, up the long diagonals that create a spider’s web out of the city’s streets and out past the city center, there is a hum. As you approach, walking amongst the shadows and family shops, you realize you’re in the middle of a throng, a crowd working its way slowly forward. There is energy and there is passion; there are shouts, laughter, grim silence, and that hum. That hum is there, the murmur of thousands of voices, of feet walking, of clothes swishing, the occasional horn honking.

This is a city built on individual greatness and collective passion, steeped in historical memory as alive as anywhere else on earth. This is the Barcelona of Antoni Gaudí, of Parc Güell, of Las Ramblas, of the Moors and Spanish Marches, of red and yellow flags fluttering on balconies, of the Catalan language, of cultural autonomy, of pa amb tomaquet, and, above all, of the Camp Nou, of Futbol Club Barcelona, of the blaugrana. Read MoreFor Whom the Bell Tolls: Barça – Inter

November 23, 2009 / / Injuries

This one is going to be a quickie, folks, because I have the preview to write as well, so apologies in advance if I miss anything of importance in the FCB news world.

Dammit, Leo, you're not Crynaldo, get up!
Dammit, Leo, you're not Crynaldo, get up! (Denis Doyle/Getty Images Europe)

-First, Messi. You’re all probably interested in whether or not our little Messias will be able to play tomorrow against Inter. At first glance, the answer is no, since he’s still supposedly suffering from a slight tear in his left leg (“a 1st degree injury in the adductor of his left thigh”). Marca has begun their fear campaign, claiming that if Messi plays either the Inter match or el clásico, he’s putting his leg at risk for the whole year, perhaps for his whole career. However, after reading in Sport that he’s not necessarily out, I visited the official site and got the previous quote from this article. It appears that the Marca fear-mongering is merely that: fear-mongering. Guardiola would never risk Messi if he were seriously injured or incapable of playing at the top level. It’s as simple as that. Given that he didn’t play Henry in Russia under similar circumstances, it would be folly to think he would play Messi for two matches if it meant losing Messi for the whole year. So, basically, Marca, you’re pure trash and you’ve proven yourself to be so once again. Congratulations. Read MoreNews of the Day: November 23, 2009

November 22, 2009 / / La Liga
Keita says it all, eh? (
Keita says it all, eh? (

I hate being right sometimes. I don’t mind being second int he league, but I mind a lot being second in the league to That Other Team. I’m not too concerned, of course, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and forget that every game is important from here on out. Take nothing for granted: not trips to San Mamés, not hosting Xerez. Nothing. Ever.

Yet sometimes you can see these things coming. Off a tough international break that put us down a few options in all three zones (offense, midfield, defense) we were more vulnerable than we have been for a while. And Athletic knew that and played us defensively, working for the counterattack. They got one and it’s hard to fault them for coming out to play the only way they thought they could win. They were there when we won the Super Copa and they saw what playing from behind against us can do to a team. So kudos to them. Read MoreAthletic Bilbao 1 – 1 Barcelona: Wasted Chances