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Mourinho Disgraces Spanish Football Once Again

18 Aug

Everything was going so well. Sure, a few harsh and untimely challenges from both clubs, but it will always be an element of this bitter rivalry. For ninety minutes (plus the ninety from the first leg on Sunday), Real Madrid and Barcelona wowed the masses with a display of football that puts both clubs light years ahead of the rest of the competition. Finesse, technique, ambition, and creativity all personified in an open, attacking Supercopa that saw plenty of goals from both sides and Messi’s brilliance to the rescue once again. And then Marcelo ruined it.

In an attempt to “close down” Fabregas on the touchline, the Brazilian launched into a two-footed scissor kick, scything the Catalan to the floor. It wasn’t cynical. It was criminal.  No more helpful was the fact that it occurred in front of both benches, bringing substitutes and coaches into the subsequent melee. Marcelo rightly saw red and luckily, Fabregas did not suffer any serious injury. And then Mourinho ruined it even more.

With a conniving shit-smirk on his face, after standing just feet away from the grotesque assault on Fabregas, Mourinho decided to have some fun. Not knowing whether Marcelo’s challenge had quite possibly shattered Fabregas’ ankle, he meandered into the fracas and plunged his finger into the right eye of Tito Vilanova (video below). Credit Barcelona’s assistant for not completely losing control after having his eye gauged – a show of composure that should be applauded. But what to make of Mourinho? Arsene Wenger now looks completely sane and rational compared to his former nemesis.

It all comes to a head now for the Portuguese manager. His antics over the past two seasons have resulted in an attempted stabbing, conspiracy theories, suspensions, and an overall disregard for the gentlemanly class of Spanish football. Last night trumped them all. The severity of attacking a fellow coach like that cannot be understated. No less after the horrific challenge by Marcelo, when Mourinho should have escorted his left-back straight to the dressing room. But he didn’t. His actions once again represent a tacit approval of the harsh, bullying physicality imposed by his own players on the pitch.

A line has been crossed and it is time for the LFP to show that they truly care about the image of their league and hand down severe punishment on Mourinho. He should be banned for at least five matches – perhaps more. Assault and inciting violence, because he sure as hell wasn’t a peacekeeper, are as reprehensible an offense any manager in any sport can commit. On the eve of a players’ strike which could shut down the opening two weeks of La Liga, an opportunity presents itself for the LFP to display a semblance of credibility. For the sake of Spanish football, let’s hope they do.

(On another note, I cannot allow my fellow Barcelona supporters to emerge unscathed. The monkey chants directed at Marcelo throughout the second half were disgusting and shameful. Racism continues to give Spanish football a black eye, while any sort of punishment from the LFP is as likely as humans inhabiting Mars tomorrow. The “say no to racism” campaign is a complete joke when the suits behind it are spineless, cowardly individuals unable and unwilling to punish the culprits.)

Barcelona Has Bankrolled Almost Half of Arsenal’s Transfer Kitty Since 2000

16 Aug

While Arsenal supporters are irate at Barcelona’s penny-pinching over the transfer of Cesc Fabregas, they should in fact be grateful to the Catalan club for the amount of income they are responsible for over the last decade. Since 2000, Arsenal has generated €310m from the sale of players. Of that total, a whopping €128m or 41% has come from Barcelona through the sale of six players:

Marc Overmars (2000) - €40m
Emmanuel Petit (2000) – €15m
Gio Van Bronckhorst (2003) – free
Thierry Henry (2007) – €24m
Alexander Hleb (2008) – €15m
Cesc Fabregas (2011) – €34m

Arsene Wenger has always displayed an astute sense of timing when selling his players, but has experienced a mixed bag of results in dealings with Barcelona. Three on that list – Overmars, Petit, and Hleb – were duds at the Catalan club. Van Bronckhorst was a field general at left back for Frank Rijkaard and won two league titles as well as a Champions League. Henry began slowly only to shine in his second season helping Barcelona to the sextuple. As for Fabregas, the sky is the limit.

Shrewd business for sure on the part of both clubs. In the end, Gooners should be more thankful than spiteful for all the cash in their club’s bank account on behalf of Barcelona, and can now justify with some statistical backing the incessant chants of “spend some f**king money.”

Photo courtesy of Sport.es

Where In The World Is…FC Barcelona?

28 Jul

Getting yelled at in Washington DC!! In town for Saturday evening’s Champions League Final rematch against Manchester United at FedEx Field, Barcelona kept up their tradition of training in parks by attempting to do so again on the National Mall. Unfortunately, one of the park rangers took exception with their presence and accosted the squad like an unruly group of middle school kids on a field trip.

“Who’s the leader of this group? Where’s the leader of this group?”

She even raises her hand in an effort to get their attention! Quite comical for one of the most popular and recognizable teams in the world. A lesson in American sports culture.

Where In The World Is…Gerard Pique?

21 Jun

In Jerusalem! Quite the life for the young Barcelona center back. In addition to winning everything for club and country, he is currently dating Shakira and following her around Europe for her concert tour, which has arrived in the Holy Land. Shakira is also scheduled to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference to promote her Barefoot Foundation – a non-profit organization aimed at bringing education to all children worldwide.

Pique is pictured above at the Western Wall in a moment of silent prayer and reflection. I have an idea what might be going through his mind…

1. I hope this hand-out yarmulke they gave me doesn’t have lice

2. Thank you so much for Shakira!!

3. Thank you for my bountiful riches and trophies

4. Shakira’s hips is a gift that keeps on giving

5. Does it count if my runway hair flip makes contact with the wall rather than my forehead?

6. I, in addition to that toilet, paid a heavy price for ordering extra hot sauce with my schwarma.  Please help stop the burning!

7. Thank you for Shakira’s incredible flexibility!!

8. Why did Mourinho get a nicer yarmulke!? And where is that note of his? I want to rip it to shreds.

9. If I have sex in the Dead Sea, will I still float?

10. Have I mentioned how thankful I am for Shakira?

More photos after the jump: Continue reading

Justin Bieber Trains With Barcelona

7 Apr

Looks like the Biebs has some talents apart from moon-walking across the stage and singing about love and courting women at the ripe old age of 17. Ahead of a sold out performance Wednesday evening at the Palau Sant Jordi, the Canadian heart-throb decided against playing in the sandbox, and instead paid a visit to FC Barcelona’s training session.

The Biebster played a short scrimmage with Thiago Alcantara and Benja Martinez against Bojan, Andreu Fontas, and one of the singer’s cronies. Surprisingly, the little guy showed a bit of skill and composure on the ball. Not to mention a handy left foot.

This comes a day after JB spent time in Madrid, joining a scrimmage at a park decked out in his Barcelona kit. Believe it or not, the Madrid locals found very little interest passing him the ball. Whether it was his high-pitched boy-call demanding attention or the fact that he wore the enemy’s jersey is up for debate.

Following the scrimmage, Biebs and Bojan skipped home together and made a lego fort.

Real Madrid Blackballs Shakira

30 Mar

Just another chapter in the Real Madrid vs Barcelona rivalry.

No couple has garnered more attention and criticism over the past few months than Shakira and Gerard Pique. On the one hand, the guy is punching above his weight by about 10 years so who are we to cry foul? On the other hand, a noticeable drop in performance has plagued Pique recently and I’m assuming that lack of sleep has EVERYTHING to do with it… Tabloids aside, the general public seems to have embraced the couple and avoided affecting their daily lives. Until now.

Real Madrid decided that Shakira’s relationship with the Barcelona center back automatically classifies her as a Barcelona supporter by association. As such, officials at the club have decided to remove any and all Shakira music from the Bernabeu speakers. Her vocal dribble known as “Waka Waka” was a staple prior to matches.

Considering the excessive and abhorrent sums of money Madrid shells out on players and anything else to ensure they top all categorical rankings, it’s safe to assume the Columbian diva is waving goodbye to a decent amount of royalties.

Madrid fans are rejoicing as this decision represents the closest they have come to defeating Barcelona at anything over the past three years…

(Photo courtesy of El Mundo Deportivo)

Pope Benedict XVI Supports Arsenal

9 Feb

The Pope has finally revealed his true colors in an attempt to sabotage next week’s mammoth Champions League clash between Arsenal and Barcelona.  Many people believed that as a son of Bavaria and former Archbishop of Munich, Bayern were his club of choice. However, a sudden turn of events has exposed the North London outfit as the true identity behind the red and white cloak he wears.

Pope Benedict has arranged for the Spanish World Cup winning squad to visit the Vatican next Monday, just 48 hours before the first leg at the Emirates. Without a doubt, such an invitation is both an honor and privilege for any individual, and you would be forever lambasted for turning it down. However, such a decision now confronts a number of players – specifically the eight Barcelona players who will miss an entire day of training just 48 hours before kickoff. Fabregas is another, but one man, as pivotal as he may be to Arsenal, is not nearly as detrimental as eight players – all of whom are starters for Barcelona.

It should be no mystery as to the timing of this event. The Pope surely watched Barcelona’s demolition of Arsenal last year, and the manner in which they are crushing records in La Liga to date. It seems that only an act of God could slow this team up. Well, just short of divine intervention, the most senior figure in the Catholic church is using his influence and close relationship with the man upstairs to derail the Catalan freight train by inviting the team to the Vatican seven months and three days after their World Cup final victory over the Netherlands.

Seven months and three days later… Coincidence?

Messi’s Win Spells Doom For Xavi

11 Jan

FIFA hosted the inaugural Ballon d’Or Gala on Monday evening (combining French Football’s Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s World Player of the Year for the very first time), handing out awards to the men and women who epitomized greatness in their respective positions. On the whole, there should be no complaints as to the winners of the awards (scroll to the bottom for those). But the biggest prize of all, for the very best player on the globe, went to the wrong person. And the man who should have been called to that podium, to join Luis Suárez as the only other Spanish-born player to ever win the award, probably watched his best chance of winning drift away.

First off, congratulations to Messi. Attempting to highlight his feats is like trying to count the stars in the sky. Of course, for me and most fans, his destruction of Arsenal stands out as one of the greatest single game performances in history. Not to mention the dizzying goal tally – 60 goals in 65 appearances for club and country in 2010. But to be fair, this was not his year. His year will be every year as long as he continues to play the way he does.

But for Xavi, I couldn’t think of a more perfect opportunity for him to win the award. For club, he is flawless. The cog in the Barcelona wheel. You are more likely to be struck by lighting in the same spot twice, than see him misplace a  pass. But the problem has always been the presence of the glamorous superstars, the goal scoring machines of Messi and Ronaldo, who have stolen the spotlight in recent years (and fully deserved every award they’ve won). Xavi’s expected vindication came in the form of the World Cup where he continued string-pulling in the midfield for mighty Spain, leading them to their first ever World Cup championship. Finally, a stage for the Barcelona man to set himself apart from the other candidates.

He completed over 85% of his passes. He was the only player to pass the ball more than 600 times, and complete more than 500 passes. He connected the two sitting midfielders in Alonso and Busquets,  with the forward thinking players in Iniesta, Pedro, and Villa. His vision, awareness, leadership, and hard work rallied Spain to difficult wins throughout the tournament. Without Xavi, Spain and Barcelona would be but a shadow of themselves.

Yet, he finished third in the voting. THIRD!! Behind an Andres Iniesta who, if you cancel out his World Cup winner, missed most of 2010 through injury. Xavi had history in his bag of tricks: Fabio Cannavaro won both awards in 2006, Fat Ronaldo won both in 2002, Zidane won both in 1998, Romario’s FIFA World Player of the Year in 1994, Lothar Matthäus’ Ballon d’Or in 1990, Paolo Rossi’s Ballon d’Or in 1982. Catch the trend? World Cup champions, and the stars of those teams, had won the coveted trophy every year dating back almost twenty years. But not 2010.

We are left scratching our heads, and sympathizing with Xavi who will finish his career as one of the most dynamic and creative midfielders the game has ever seen. Even Mourinho chimed in after the ceremony, “Messi is of a different world and the award is in good hands, but I feel sorry for Xavi more than anyone.”

To be outdone by the man who may become the greatest is no knock to Xavi at all. But this was his year where the voters finally had a chance to reward the pass-master. It was no longer just a product of Guardiola’s system, and the superstars surrounding him at Barcelona. It was the biggest footballing stage. It was the tournament that has seen Spain choke time and time again. It was a masterclass against the world’s best, vicious tackling, and smothering defenses never before seen. His immediate contenders, Iniesta and Messi, were not nearly as influential throughout the tournament.

Messi’s win this year means Xavi will probably never win the award (he will be 34 at the next World Cup). An incomprehensible injustice.

As for the rest of the awards…

Team of the Year – Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Maicon (Inter Milan), Lucio (Inter Milan), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), David Villa (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Women’s World Player of the Year - Marta (Brazil)
World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football – Jose Mourinho
World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football – Silvia Neid (Germany)
Puskas Award: Goal of the Year – Hamit Altintop (Matthew Burrows got royally screwed. THIS was the goal of the year)
Fair Play Award – Haiti Under-17 women’s team
Presidential Award – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

David Villa’s Dirty Little Leopard Secret

4 Jan

Gerard Pique sat out Barcelona’s match against lowly Levante on Sunday after accumulating five yellow cards, which only provided an opportunity for more shenanigans from the center back on his famed twitter account (in case you’ve been living in a cave, I’ll inform you that Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, and Cesc Fabregas joined twitter a few months ago and hold hourly “tweet wars” and pranks every day). He posted the above picture during the match resulting in a mystery blame game over the next 48 hours:

@3gerardpique: “Which player from the team is capable of going to a party wearing these shoes??

When I first saw them I thought they were Carles’ because a few weeks ago we went to the zoo and I thought he bought them there! HAHA

I am disgusted to see that there are people who think they are mine…are you crazy or what???”

@Carles5puyol: “Liar! It’s impossible! They are too small! I’ll give you all a very important fact: they are a size 40.”

@3gerardpique: “I will give you five names. The shoes belong to one of them.

Mascherano, Keita, Dani Alves, Villa and Bojan! Whose could they be?

We are now down to three! I know I’m making you wait very long, but the player does not want anyone knowing…one moment.

I am currently in negotiations with the player in order to convince him! Through this I will be able to reveal the name of the player.”

While men, women, children, circus folk, bakers, and butlers waited with bated breathe for Pique to reveal the owner, a small crack of the truth leaked out to the public through a radio interview with David Villa. When asked if they were his, the striker bashfully grinned and told everyone to wait for tomorrow. At long last though, the truth has been revealed!

@3gerardpique: I have the pleasure to announce that the “magnificent” shoes I hung up the other day are David Villa’s!!

I guess he is the only player on that team who can really pull these off – what with his extra slick and gelled hair, crisp tight clothing, and arguably the world’s most famous soul patch. Where them in public? Sure, why not. Bring them to your workplace and leave them in the locker room in plain sight of one of the most notorious goofball pranksters around? Now that’s just stupid.

(Photo courtesy of Sport.es)

A Dream Come True For 4 Year Old

16 Dec

On July 12, the bus rolled down La Gran Via de Madrid carrying the conquering heroes of the World Cup. Watching roughly 30 meters away was Alleke, the daughter of American parents living in Madrid, who desperately wanted to meet her personal hero Xavi more than anything. The fact that she couldn’t, and that the bus kept moving farther and farther away, brought her to tears.

This past week her dream came true, as she finally got to meet Xavi who signed a personalized Barcelona jersey for her.

Doesn’t this just seem a bit more realistic and emblematic of the holiday spirit, as opposed to a stupid Lexus waiting in your driveway with a big bow on it?


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