I previously covered the entire league in preview format, but what of Barcelona’s particular chances? We’ve got our transfers to fully integrate and our schedule to parse. Because there are enough matches to go around with a small squad (20 first team players as of this writing, but probably going to fall), time on the field will not be a problem for anyone. Anytime there’s an injury, there will be a Copa del Rey match to play in or a league match before a CL match. There are also the canteranos who will step up and the veterans (is Leo a veteran by now? Is Bojan?) who will play as many matches as their bodies will allow.
The league, then, is the priority, as always. I know that some readers will say “No, the Champions League is more important!” but I disagree fully and completely. I love the CL as much as anyone, I think, but La Liga is the title that matters. If I’m going to choose one to win each year, it would, without question, always be La Liga. I would never sacrifice the league in order to win the CL, not once. Sure, it might shut the EPL fanboys up a bit if we did win the CL continuously, but, again, it’s not as important to the identity and history of the club–at least from my perspective. So, because I value the domestic campaign more than the European campaign (attentive readers should go back to my older writings and cherry pick a few choice lines stating the opposite of this, especially when I argued for a Europe-wide league, a true Champions League; I deeply regret anything I said that would remove teams from a domestic league even if it was just for one year), I find it worthwhile to focus on the games themselves. Read MoreBarcelona First Half Preview
This one took some time, folks, not only for our beloved Barca, but for me.
For them, the reasons were obvious: We came up against a side with next to no interest in playing football today. Their sole aim was to stymie our attacks, clog the midfield, have at least 5 men in the box and jam up the passing lanes. And, if a counterattack opportunity presented itself, they would be happy to take it.
Welcome to what we’re going to be seeing for most of 2010, so get used to more 1-0 or 2-1 wins, rather than 5-0 blowouts.
The picture that you see here is the epitome of truth and justice. The captain of the best team on the night is hoisting the trophy. It’s also a picture of my Man of the Match, Carles Puyol.
I can hear it now: “New site and already, Kxevin’s out of his mind.”
The second trophy of the season is up for grabs at a neutral venue: Monaco’s Stade Louis II. It only holds 18,500 (if it were any bigger, it wouldn’t fit in the principality), so the crowd won’t be quite as raucous as you might expect for a match pitting the defending Champions League and UEFA Cup champions. The UEFA Super Cup, a one-off match designed as a pseudo friendly that gets everyone’s blood pumping before the domestic leagues are in full swing, is an excellent way for those who won the UEFA Cup (now Europa Cup). I’m not convinced of the need for such a match, but it’s fun nonetheless and offers up some extra silverware for the cabinet.
FCB last played in this match in August 2006, when Dani Alves and Sevilla beat them. So only our little Brazilian hummingbird has ever won this trophy. There are connections to AS Monaco as well that are documented here, the most notable of which is The Yaya’s stint there before he began playing for us. Read MoreSuper Cup Preview: Barça – Shakhtar; 2:30pmEST, FSC/FSE
The UEFA Champions League group stage draw will be held today at 12 noon EST. Here are the pots:
Pot 1Club (Nation) Coefficent
1 FC Barcelona (ESP, holders) 121.853
2 Chelsea FC (ENG) 118.899
3 Liverpool FC (ENG) 118.899
4 Manchester United FC (ENG) 111.899
5 AC Milan (ITA) 110.996
6 Arsenal FC (ENG) 106.899
7 Sevilla FC (ESP) 100.853
8 FC Bayern München (GER) 98.339
Pot 2Club (Nation) Coefficent
9 Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) 91.033
10 FC Internazionale Milano (ITA) 87.582
11 Real Madrid CF (ESP) 78.853
12 PFC CSKA Moskva (RUS) 71.525
13 FC Porto (POR) 68.292
14 AZ Alkmaar (NED) 64.826
15 Juventus (ITA) 63.582
16 Rangers FC (SCO) 56.575
Pot 3Club (Nation) Coefficent
17 Olympiacos FC (GRE) 52.633
18 Olympique de Marseille (FRA) 48.033
19 FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) 46.370
20 VfB Stuttgart (GER) 45.339
21 ACF Fiorentina (ITA) 42.582
22 Club Atlético de Madrid (ESP) 41.853
23 FC Girondins de Bordeaux (FRA) 40.033
24 Beşiktaş JK (TUR) 32.445
Pot 4Club (Nation) Coefficent
25 VfL Wolfsburg (GER) 21.339
26 R. Standard de Liège (BEL) 21.065
27 Maccabi Haifa FC (ISR) 17.050
28 FC Zürich (SUI) 14.050
29 FC Rubin Kazan (RUS) 9.525
30 AFC Unirea Urziceni (ROU) 8.781
31 APOEL FC (CYP) 4.016
32 Debreceni VSC (HUN) 1.633 Read MoreChampions League Group Stage Draw
Here he is, making it verrrry clear how he prefers to have his name spelled, folks. It’s the latest addition to our back line, Dmytro Chygrynskiy or, as he prefers the back of the shirt to say, Chygrynskyy.
But let’s just agree to call him Chygnasty, and be done with it, shall we?
His transfer will be announced on Saturday, after he makes an appearance at the christening of a new stadium, as we agreed with Shakhtar’s boss. So welcome (almost) Chygnasty.
More on the long-tressed defender. He’s 22 years old, from Iziaslav, Ukraine. He’s 6’3″ tall, or 1.9m for you metric-sized folks. His strengths, as have already been laid out in videos here and here, are positioning, height, long passing, attack starting and heading ability. And having watched those videos again, I must say that I love his defensive positioning. Keep in mind that highlight videos never show the clunkers, but he reminds me so much of Piquenbauer, but….
The dawn spreads its wispy fingers over the roofs of the neighboring buildings, sliding casually down Atlantic, splaying sideways at Flatbush. It dims the street light that shines through my window at that perfect angle where any attempt to block it from my eyes causes me to lose the air circulation in my room. I shift and try to sleep more, longer, anything to get rid of this feeling in my stomach. For once it’s not last night’s rounds with the boys that is causing me this insomnia. I look at my watch: 5 more hours to go. I roll over, pressing my face into the pillow. I roll over again, pulling the sheet over my legs then flipping it off moments later. I look at my watch: 4 hours, 59 minutes to go. I roll over, exhale.
“Stop tossing around, honey.” We love each other, of course, my girlfriend and I, but at 6am on Sunday morning, there is no such thing as empathy, just mumbled hatred. I try to hold still, but it’s too hot. I sit up and take a drink of water from the cup on the nightstand. I plop back down, exhale. “Stop tossing around, dickhead.”
I can’t explain it to her, she’ll never understand. It’s August 30 and I’m waiting as patiently as I can. I think she knows, intuitively, without having been reminded, that it’s Jornada 1, it’s el primer dia de la primera. It’s kickoff, it’s the beginning of another obsession. It’s gameday. No wonder I can’t sleep. Read MoreState of La Liga: Season Preview 09/10 [Update]
[Author’s note: The idea for this was taken from the amazing The Dugout over on Progressive Boink. You should read it and love it, even if you don’t like baseball. However, if I took any of the names from The Dugout, that was entirely unintentional. -Isaiah]
Episode 1: In which the team meets up for the first time after the off season to say goodbye to those who are leaving and hello to some of the new guys. Read MoreEl Banquillo #1:
So we’ve read quite a lot about how Barca’s play is like the music of the late, great jazz legend Thelonious Monk. Spare a couple of minutes for this video, then we’ll begin.
Here’s what I meant when I initially raised the analogy, borne out by yesterday’s thrashing of an under-manned Bilbao side.
Monk raised the game of jazz by being brave, unconventional and yes, a little crazy. He had a very different bag of tricks to work with, one that made the traditional structure of jazz suddenly insufficient.