October 6, 2009 / / Thoughts

I’ve harped on this before, but apparently it bears repeating. Sport is reporting that Peruvian national team midfielder Ranier Torres, a 29-year old who plays for Universitario in Peru, is promising to put the boot in hard against Messi. Specifically he has claimed that he wants to imitate Luis Reyna’s 1985 Peru-Argentina man-marking of, probably not coincidentally, Diego Maradona. For his part, Maradona remembers the game for being kicked, rather than for being shut down. Read MoreLegs and Yellow Cards: Why These Things Matter

October 5, 2009 / / Team News

Here’s something you don’t see every day:

Given that 45 yards is pretty far to head a ball, I’ll give him credit for getting it on target, but damn, that was a Valdes-at-his-worst (Zambrotta-at-his-best?) move by the keeper that would have had the lot of us screaming bloody murder. Note the Velez fans at the end looking stunned…what a brave bunch they are, traveling to La Bombonera.

Whatever, Barça, after the jump: Read MoreTidbits From A World at Rest: News in an International Break

October 3, 2009 / / La Liga
So. Happy. Right. Now!
So. Happy. Right. Now!

Wow. What a golazo! That it was the only goal wasn’t really surprising when you watched the match for more than 10 minutes, as Hugo Sanchez unveiled a new formation, the 0-10-0, in an effort to keep us from scoring, shamefully playing for a draw at the Camp Nou.

Thankfully, the footy gods brought us the new, calm Pedro!, who spun and smoked a shot into the far upper 90, that was astonishing. Maxwell will get credit for the assist, but it’s a gift because that goal was all P!.
Read MoreBarca 1, Almeria 0, a.k.a. “Wallowing in it.”

October 3, 2009 / / La Liga
October 3, 2009 / / Thoughts
Get me some more players! Now!
Get me some more players! Now!

As Gordon Gekko said in the movie “Wall Street,” “Greed is good.”

But is it? And what kind of greed are we talking about here?

We all know that the Big Two Liga clubs, Barcelona and the Evil Empire, have started the season perfect. Both clubs have also won pretty easily (if you look at the scorelines), while not at their best. Players are still learning each other, there are various injuries to contend with, etc, etc. Some matches they’ve been sleepwalking, others have been at half-speed.

And yet, 5-0 for the both of ’em. Is this good?
Read MoreAre we good for La Liga?

October 2, 2009 / / La Liga

La Liga Preview: Barça – Almería, Saturday 2pm, ESPN Deportes

Hey, this winning thing is fun...let's keep doing it.
Hey, this winning thing is fun...let's keep doing it.

Remember when you were younger and sports was all about the thrill, the spectacle, the careless joy of watching your team play? I remember those days too, but something happened and it became an activity fraught with peril. That massive change in approach came about rapidly for me, as I watched Weligton turn joyous play into a trap of injury possibilities.

I’m still seething about the lack of action against a player who purposefully attempted to injure not one, but two players in last week’s match. I do not, for a moment buy that it’s an overreaction on my part to demand Weligton be suspended for at least 3 matches and fined a commensurate amount. The reason has nothing to do with last week’s match, which we won anyway thanks to both individual brilliance and collective play that was worth far more than Malaga’s butcher tactics. Read MoreKick the Ball. Or the Man. Whatever.

September 30, 2009 / / Champions League
Come, and I shall lead ye....
Come, and I shall lead ye....

Well, now. Not sure what to say about that one. Actually, I do:

Elegant, workmanlike and except for two Keystone Kops moments, drama-free. Dinamo Kyiv rolled into the Camp Nou, full of the same quotes that have been buttressing the hopes of every club we’ve played so far this season, stuff like “Well, we’re going in to win,” “Barca can be beaten, blah, blah, blah.” And perhaps we can, but you aren’t going to win it by setting up shop in your own end, kicking at every ball and player that comes near you.

I’m not a footballing genius, but I know that much.
Read MoreBarca 2, Dinamo Kyiv 0, a.k.a. “Man the ramparts!”

September 29, 2009 / / Champions League
September 29, 2009 / / Team News
September 28, 2009 / / Champions League

CL Preview: Barça – Dynamo Kiev, Tuesday 2:45pmEST, Fox Sports en Español

Imagine how good I'd be if I wore these!
Imagine how good I'd be if I wore these!

In the 10th century, Русь, or Kievan Rus’, controlled what we know as the Ukraine, Belorussia, and eastern Russia. There were notable figures like Vladimir the Great and his son Yaroslav the Wise and Kievan Rus’ ended up controlling a vast swatch of Eastern Europe that extended into eastern Russia. They wrote the Russkaya Pravda and made the Dnieper a major trading route. Modern Kiev probably owes much to those centuries of rule.

It’s easy, of course, to get lost in the ramblings of history, to find ourselves connecting Kievan Rus’ to the present in a direct line, and, what’s more, to think about the Ostrogoths that came before that as somehow connected to the fairly ridiculous historical comparison we made last time with Visigothic maraudings in reverse. We could continue that and say that we are fighting the next battle in our made up war, moving from Italy to the Ukraine (with Barcelona as a proxy for the actual Ukraine), and ending up in Russia on Matchday 3, but that, of course, seems even more far-fetched than it did the first time I went about it.

Whether Lobanovskyi ever tried to channel Vladimir or Yaroslav, we’ll never know–perhaps there are better historical equivalents, but, again, I never did study Europe and I’m far too lazy to do a truly in-depth look at the history of these countries–but certainly there are connections between the Ukraine of footballing antiquity and our modern Barcelona-based juggernaut. Valeriy Vasylyovych Lobanovskyi, for those of you who are unaware, is one of the fathers of modern football. There are, of course, disputes about who developed what or influenced who, but it’s generally accepted that Lobanovskyi was one of the first to push players into that realm of physicality that allowed them to run for 90 minutes, to play, in essence, Total Football because they could stand the pace and no one else could. Read MoreThree Golden Points: Barça – Dynamo