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 18, 2009 / / Liveblog
November 17, 2009 / / Team News


It’s a slow news day. There’s no doubt about that. But here goes with what we know:

-There are 9 first team players back in training along with 4 Barça Atletic players. Messi returned today and should be fit and ready to go for the Athletic match on Saturday–whether that’s true about the others who aren’t back from international duty is definitely a big question. I suppose it will depend on how much playing time they get in tomorrow’s friendlies or World Cup qualifiers.

Those present today were: Valdés, Pinto, Bojan, Jeffren, Milito, Pedro, Maxwell, Márquez, and the aforementioned Messi. The four Atletic players were: Marc Bartra, Oriol Romeu, Nolito, and Jonathan dos Santos. Also present but training alone were Keita and Ibra, both of whom apparently did ball work along with their physical recovery training. Read MoreNews of the day: November 17, 2009

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

November 15, 2009 / / Team News

Right-o, kids. The freakin’ January transfer window isn’t even open yet, and we supposedly have a deal with Javier Mascherano for just north of 40m. Or we don’t. It might only be about 34m. One complexity is that we want him in January, but Liverpool don’t want to have him leave until the summer.
Read MoreMascherano? 40m? Where did I put my Hector Pills?

November 14, 2009 / / Thoughts
Hey, slick! Guardian says you're coach of the year!
Hey, slick! Guardian says you're coach of the year!

–Coach of the Year. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? UK paper (and a darned respectable one) Guardian says that our very own Pep Guardiola is their coach of the year. He has, and I quote, “The young Barcelona coach has quietly turned a team of underachievers into world-beaters.”

And so he has.
Read MoreNews, Saturday edition

November 14, 2009 / / Liveblog
November 13, 2009 / / Team News
Just don't get hurt....just don't....

It was July 9, 2006 and I was standing in the viewing room of the French consulate in Chicago, weeping alongside a room full of other fans of Les Bleus. Yes, I had won the Chicago Tribune’s World Cup pool by betting my heart (Les Bleus all the way, as I will bet again this time out, if they make it.) rather than my mind, because I just knew.

I knew that Zinedine Zidane had one more magical tournament in him. That Patrick Vieira would be able to hold down the midfield, Yaya-style, while Zidane sashayed about on his Xavi-esque flights of fancy, giant feet flapping and distributing. I knew that Thierry Henry had more magical goals in him.

I just knew.
Read MoreIt’s Internationals time again, a.k.a. “Fear and loathing”

November 13, 2009 / / El Banquillo
November 12, 2009 / / Team News

In MemoriamFirst, a bit of sadness: as has been noted before in the comments as well as in the newspapers, former Barça keeper Robert Enke died on Tuesday before our match with Cultural, leading to a moment of silence. Enke was a keeper, born in Jena, Germany in 1977. He played very sparingly for Barça during his time with team, only make 4 total appearances, none of which were very successful (in fact, he played in a Copa del Rey match that ended with Barça losing to Novelda CF of the Segunda B and Enke being blamed for the loss by many). He went on loan to Fenerbahçe and Tenerife, but despite some success there, he was not recalled to FCB and he moved to Hannover, where he was still playing at the time of his death.

From what I understand, he committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a train after battling with depression for many years as well as the loss of his two-year old daughter to heart complications. Tragedies such as these remind us that sporting success is fleeting compared to the value of a human life and that despite their superhuman endeavors in the athletic sphere, the people we watch on a daily basis are as human as we are and face many of the same issues and troubles that the wider population faces. They are not perfect and it would do us all a bit of good to remember that once in a while and to try and understand the various pressures we put on professional athletes that we’ve never met and will never understand.

You can check out a brief biography of Enke as a Barça player over on webdelcule. Read MoreNews and Notes: November 12, 2009

November 12, 2009 / / Nonsense
November 11, 2009 / / Barcelona
Hey, tell dad how good we were! Really! LOL!!!!
Hey, tell dad how good we were! Really! LOL!!!!

I wasn’t expecting this one. We all laid out predictions of a tight scoreline from a club content to just get the job done, and move on to the next round. But the kids weren’t going to allow that to happen. They wanted blood, and blood they received. Yes, Messi and Xavi scored, but this was about the groundwork done by the young’uns, who ran and capered about, colt-like, peppering the Cultural goal with chance after chance, parried by their hard-working keeper, until suddenly, the finger popped out of the dike, and thus began the great flood.

It was beautiful.
Read MoreBarca 5, Cultural Leonesa 0, a.k.a. “Rockin’ it old school like”