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.
La Liga Preview: Barça – Almería, Saturday 2pm, ESPN Deportes
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.
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.
CL Preview: Barça – Dynamo Kiev, Tuesday 2:45pmEST, Fox Sports en Español
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
As match-changing moments go, this one was huge. Thierry Henry’s thigh injury necessitated a substitution, and thankfully the healing powers of Zlatan Ibrahmovic had him ready and available for duty.
And we all know the rest, right?
But the important part about this match isn’t any refereeing, or missed decisions, or dirty plays. It’s about how we won, and that we rolled up man-style, returning dirty play by putting the ball in the back of the net. Read MoreMaulaga 0, Barca 2, a.k.a. “Way to man up.”
So, Boat Forever and others have been wondering: Why haven’t we seen The Yaya in two consecutive matches now? Worries about a rift between he and Barca managment have cropped up, etc, etc. And now there are the latest rumors, that Citeh will come charging in with a pigpile of money for The Yaya who, if you believe the Britpress, is “desperate” to play alongside his brother Kolo (who isn’t Toure Kolo, as he is Toure Yaya …. but that’s another musing). Read MoreSaturday musings: The Yaya and being in the crosshairs