This blog will be dedicated to the beautiful passions of life: Food, Film, Football (Barça), Philosophy, Literature, Art and Humanity.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

nothing else to say


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We Need You, We Love You, We Want You!


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Week To Come

Few people will be disconnected this week. One has had it in the bloodstream for some time, and finally the day has arrived. Although it has been slightly diluted with all these international games, that almost no supporter of Barça cares about (apart from getting their players whole back home). First we have Sevilla and there is a lust of revenge. Harsh words, but the club including the players will want to show that Monaco was little more than an accident. There are certain teams that Barcelona traditionally suffers against and one of them is Sevilla. It will be very hard to get a result, as Sevilla have a united team who have played together for some time. They have a mixture of technical talent and hardworking grut.
The game will not be shown on television, which will make everyone who can't attend glued to their radios, it will be almost conceptual or perhaps romantic, having to imagine the action. Sevilla has not reached a television contract and one would have thought that this game would be ideal to get what they want, but no. It is not on television.
Barcelona will want to win, but they also have to keep an eye on the week, that is very important. The result will mean a lot in terms of confidence and getting back together after the long break of internationals. These results are always important. It is kind of a game that can set the future results. If a huge loss is made it can knock the confidence, if the result is too good, it might breed far too much confidence, if too much energy is wasted, it will make the team tired, but they also need to get the mechanism. Ronaldinho will want to prove that he is not on a downward spiral, but what was a temporary slope, due to lack of match fitness. A few days later there is Chelsea. This game feels very different to previous ones, first as it is not about life and death, but there is also a surprising silence, very little has been written, few stories invented. It is almost worrying calm, like the calm before the storm. I believe however the game is very important. Barcelona will need the points if they don't want to suffer in the following games, as they only have four points, but both teams will want to bang hard on the table and show who is the Big Club in Europe. Barcelona that they are the European Championships, but also Chelsea that they deserve to win it and will win it. Chelsea have signed two star players, Ballack and Schevschenko and so far they have not really gelled into the team, a point they will want to proof. It is one of the games which the whole world watches and that kind of exposure is important to gain future fans. We can't forget the ego of Mourinho either. I doubt that Rijkaard has much to proove as he is not really a man controlled by the flood of his testosterone against other testosterone. I can't deny that beating Chelsea convincingly will be a sweet one. I think it will be a tight result in Stamford Bridge, could go either way. It will be very special for Eidur Smari Gudjohnsen, making sure he did make the correct decision. He will have a much more central place, due to Samuel's injury, who will be very much missed. His fighting spirit is just not equivalent to anyone else's. Eto'o always turns up in these games, he even multiplies in the ones against Madrid, whom Barça play in seven days. With Eto'o's abscence it will be up to Ronaldinho to perform, but he has always done so when he is Really Needed. the awards are coming up, making it important to get shown. This years game against Madrid do lack the last wo years "spikeness" where two ears ago it was Samuel's first game against Madrid with a Barcelona shirt, it was just around the time Madrid were in the middle of their post-galactico depression and last year it had all the edginess of the week where the government was discussing the new constitution (giving the Catalans greater freedom and some Castillians were claiming it was going to break the united Spain). It was extremely tense on the political front and like in the best clasicos it meant something more than football. Barcelona totally humiliated Madrid, where Madrid fans even rose to their feet to applaud Ronaldinho's second goal. It was a goal for the museum, where Ronaldinho slalomed through half of the Madrid team (for the second time), but it is almost unheard of Barcelona being applauded at Bernabeu (last time was when Maradona played for Barcelona). The cals is diluted due to playing the second enemy a few days before, but it will be interesting to see Rijkaard vs. Capello. Defence against attack.
Madrid are in a vicious circus of a chaotic board situation, where former candidates are asking for recounting of the votes. Fans are not very pleased (a mild observation) with the way the team plays, in short it is not very harmonious. If Barcelona humiliate Madrid again, the stadium will blow up.

I almost believe the Sevilla game will be very important to set the week, to gain confidence, to get a positive result against Chelsea is good for world wide exposure (and could possibly be crucial) and authority, but beating Madrid always has a sense of satisfaction. But I might just be dreaming.

Saviola and Eidur Smari
Los ojos del Frank



I kind of wanted to show my failure at making a realistic portrait. Hopefully with time, it might happen...

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Heaven and Hell

El Mundo deportivo have started a very nice game, where you can vote for your favourite Barcelona team ever
  • EMD
  • . It has been an incredible success, and one can take a few conclusions, such as most fans go for 3-4-3, or 4-3-3 and attack, attack and attack. It is obvious what the fans want from the team. It would have been fun to see what Juventus fans would have done or Chelsea or Milan. There is also the problem of what you do with players such as Maradona, who played his best years unfortunately not at Barcelona, where he only won one cup. No fans have put Figo, although many ex footballers, such as Albert Ferrer have forgiven him, but not forgotten him.
    Well known journalists such as Marti Perarnau and Banyeres have also made their teams.
    Enric's is:

    Marti's is:

    This has in turn led to a new game, even more amusing, where you put down your worst team in the history of Barcelona. Obviously a lot of people are from the Dream Team generation, making it difficult to vote for earlier players. Some players are in almost every election and I have given you a sample of the teams various people made.




    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Latest (and late) thoughts on football

    Saviola and his goals

    Eto'o's injury could be a blessing for someone else, a little rabbit, un pibe, who is much loved by the fans. At the moment he is second choice, but he will be pushing for his chances. It is true he was the last in the pecking order of strikes, but that is with Eto'o fit, with Eto'o out for five months, he is the closest they have to Samuel. I believe Javier Saviola's stubbornness will give him many minutes (even with Eto'o fit). Although there is a reason for why Barcelona do not want him. Apart from the much discussed economic reason there is also a more pragmatic one. Saviola is a good player, perhaps not a great one, but a fairly reliable. He could be more of a player for a medium, but ambitious team, but now he is here, we might as well use him. His position at Barcelona does not exist however, he has always played behind the main striker (at River Plate, with Kluivert, Crespo and at Sevilla), Barcelona simply do not play within a system that suits Saviola and he is not good enough to build a team around him. Conceptually y here is just not room for him. He does not seem flexible enough to adapt to being the main striker, or to play on the wing. Rijkaard does not like that he always looks at the ball and not with his head up (look at Xavi, Iniesta, Messi), but also he does not open up the pitch like Giuly (nor does Messi for that matter) and he is not comfortable on his own. The fact is though that we need him now, with only Gudjohnsen as the main striker, he will have to adopt, he will have to score goals. So lets put the discussion of the use of Saviola on the side and just enjoy his goals and effort for the team. Who knows perhaps an Eto'o will come out of his sleeve.

    A. Bilbao - Barcelona

    I don't like it when Puyol commits a foul, to tell the opponent to get up and not to be a playacting baby. Not fair play. but I guess that is modern football. Eidur Smari in good action, I hope he will connect, otherwise the fans will cry for the rabbit. Beautiful goal by Yeste. Will Eto'o's absence hunt us?
    Shocking marking once more. The defense always runs together in a solitary movement with the ball, without bearing in mind a free opponent player.
    Almost another Puyol blunder. Intensity, intensity.
    Zambrotta making the Italian gesture. Will that bring the Sicilian out of the team?
    Well done Messi and clever Eidur. Was more a yellow than red though, if that. Eidur definitely does not run like Samuel, but then no one does.
    Rijkaard is doing a gamble. OOOaaaaaaaooooooo.
    You die by your beliefs.
    Ronaldinho seem so be slightly more alive than against Bremen. he has understood that he is in charge now. the leader. But we need more from the world's best player.
    Even Ronaldinho is tracking back. All Bilbao do is kick the ball away so Barcelona have to start all over again.
    Puyol is happy to score again. Perhaps he can become a Terry. 6 goals per year.
    Eidur has had a great part of the victory. My country man is a tough man, thrown in to the team to be Eto'o and he is not doing badly at all. Marquez is almost scoring. What is going on here? Once can always see when Iniesta is warming up. A glow from the touchline...
    The team needs to do more pressing. Leave no time to think for the opposite team. Did we see what Mourinho has thought Eidur Smari or is it a cultural adaptation?
    I am really sad about Eto'o, but it will make the victory even sweeter (at the end of the season - if ...). If Saviola comes on and score, it will be a great indication that we will manage without Eto'o.
    Gracias a dios el pibito se queda!

    Werder Bremen - Barcelona

    Finally Iniesta gets his moment in the first team. The surprise must be the inclusion of Oleguer, instead of Zambrotta. No idea why. Has Rijkaard become Benitian in his obsessive rotation. Or is it one of his policies in order to keep all players happy?

    The orange outfit looks great.
    The first minutes are looking what looks to be a "tough one", is it going to be another Monaco. Another match, where the players thought the job was done before getting on the pitch. I am worried about the sudden "glamour" surrounding the team. I don't doubt that Rijkaard is possessively protective towards his team and works very hard keeping their feet on the ground and their heads hungry, but perhaps Laporta is pushing the team towards ever more exposure. The press and fans are certainly to blame, but is it not normal that a certain euphoria surrounds the team?

    Unicef disappears in the orange, is it a golden colour, just not shining. No it is a light blue. Bremen without any advertising, a strange view (apparently there is a court case pending, against their betting sponsors).

    While Iniesta is strolling he keeps looking around, just in case he receives the ball, when he does he needs to have all options clear in his head. All antennas alerted in order to direct the game, either pacing it up or down, depending on the result.

    Deco goes to ground slightly to easily for my taste. Rijkaard looks classy almost all in black, just a hint of red underneath, he seems to have lost the kilos gained in relaxation.

    Academic clinical goal. It was needed. So coldly executed. After a suffering, utterly boring second half, Barcelona scored an undeserved goal. It was one of the most horrid games, where they just did not seem to wake up until they had the knife at their throats.

    The team seemed dozed after Eto'o went off. i am seriously worried, it looked bad and proved to be bad.

    I believe the team had a lazy attitude, not taking Werder Bremen very seriously, when they do have a decent team. Barcelona lacked intensity, it is nothing new, as they traditionally take 20 minutes to wake up. Ronaldinho was simply dreadful, perhaps the worst game he ever had. After a bright start of the season, where he wanted the world to remember that he was not the new Raúl, he seems to have fallen asleep again. I guess he will wake up for the big week (Real Madrid/Chelsea). I blame Rijkaard for not putting his best players on the pitch, perhaps that has an effect on the team and they don't really take it as seriously as they should. This is not a crisis in the horizon, but their complacency at times is worrying, although last year if I don't remember it wrongly it all started in a similar vein. This year looks like it is going to be a tough one, Valencia and Real Madrid have signed a lot of good players and it will be a fight. No time will be able to afford to loose many points. Eto'o will be profoundly missed, but hopefully he will be back for the crucial bit of the season (march) and I sincerely hope his injury won't have an effect on his future performances. Let's hope that Eto'o's injury will bring the players together and make them fight even more. I think that Eto'o's goals can be partly substituted, but his possessive running and determination - his mind, heart and guts - will be hard to replace.


    Last Year Is This Year?

    Memories of this years Champions League!

    The start of the of the CL was met with expectations, after winning the Spanish league with style, what the culés wanted was the fat one.
    Once the draw was made it was clear that in a group of Werder Bremen, Panantinaikos, Udinese, Barça would not have difficulties in qualifying, at least in normal circumstances. It was a mere formality almost. It gave Barcelona the opportunity to mix some great football with marvelous football. Very attack minded, with great results and allowing the fans to enjoy rather than suffered.

    Once the first round was finished and Chelsea had come second, I just knew we would meet them, it was purely an intuition, but it was obvious that if Barça wanted to progress, they would have to finish an unfinished business.

    The game against Chelsea, had two months of build up. It was almost insane, the league was a freeway, where the results just kept coming in, which was beneficial in order to be able to rest players against the first important game of the year. The one at Stamford Bridge. There was a sense of confidence, but no arrogance, but I was almost certain that Barcelona would go through. They had been naive in the previous year, where they granted Chelsea to dictate the return match. Another benefit was that the second game was at Camp Nou, meaning that if a good result could be obtained in England, qualification would be almost like a formality. The game was tainted the question of the state of the grass at Stamford Bridge, that the club had allowed it to deteriorate in order to slow down Barcelona's passing game. There was the classic sending off, with Asier Del Horno bumping down Messi, the youngster who everyone would be talking about after the game. Del Horno was lucky not to be sent off 10 minutes earlier, with a clumsy challenge, with studmarks showing for weeks afterwards. Barcelona totally dominated the game and even if Chelsea went up first, they were lucky to loose only 1-2. Mourinho was furious at Messi's so called play acting, stirring the atmosphere up even more. He was spat at upon arrival at the airport, but later Rijkaard pleaded the fans to meet him with respect at the stadium. When Ronaldinho scored a wonderful goal in the second half, the fans burst out singing "Mourinho, go to the theatre, go to the theatre, Mourinho go to the theatre". Class. I feel very proud that under Rijkaard's strict orders, the players should concede no free kicks on the edge of the penaties nor any corners. Mission fulfilled

    The next rivals came briefly after and would be Benfica. For this game, I was much more nervous. As Benfica are not one of the major clubs in Europe anymore, there was a risk of relaxations. In the first game, Barcelona attacked and attacked and I think there were 20 shots on goal, but the goalkeeper simply had the game of his life. Every time Benfica counterattacked, I was truly nervous. Barcelona were also lucky to escape a penalty in the area. An unlucky result, but lucky at the same time. The return game came straight after el clásico with Madrid (rarely had that game meant as little). The players seemed confident, but there was also a morbo as Koeman was Benfica's coach (Koeman's scored Barcelona's goal in their only CL final victory), it would just be typical if he would be the man kicking Barcelona out of the tournament. Apparently each time the two clubs had met in the European cup the winner had later gone and won the tournament. In the first five minutes of the return leg, Ronaldinho missed a penalty and we were all wondering if the goalkeeper would have his miracle moment again. Soon thereafter Ronaldinho scored the first goal of the game. The second half took for ever to arrive and Benfica were approaching the opposite area with decision, but fortunately no precision. Simao seem to have the game in his hands, but Valdés made a great safe. That goal would probably have meant that Benfica would go through. Five minutes before the end, Eto'o scored a wonderful goal and I have rarely experienced such a relief.

    Next were Milan. Remembrance of the 1994 final, were Milan thumped Barcelona in Athens, 4-0 to win the final, was brought up. A good sign. As there was some kind of revenge in the air. Deco was suspended for the second game, which was almost a blessing as he had a serious dip in the second half of the season. Larsson was also out, so was Messi, who had not returned from the injury in the return leg of the Chelsea game. I was in Spain for the semifinal, going to a restaurant with my dad and his friend, eating tapas and drinking wine. A great way to watch football. It was a very tactical game, almost Italian. Milan were reaching the area, but it just did not seem to be their night. Iniesta got his BA in the games against Benfica, where he controlled it the moment he came on, but against Milan he had another immense game, were he got his Master. He simply over shadowed, Pirlo, Seedorf and Gattuso. It was so lovely to see. Ronaldinho had one moment of magic, were he released Giuly, who scored the only goal of the game. A Frenchman handing us the ticket to Paris? Now there was only a result to be held out at Camp Nou. Milan were again attacking and came close a few times, as did Barcelona. It was probably a very boring game for neutrals. Barcelona could count themselves lucky that a Schevchenko goal was disallowed, for something noone really seems to be able to grasp. Lucky. Then again Champions always have luck on their side. Five minutes before the end, the stadium suddenly started to believe what everyone had hoped for: a ticket to Paris. It was such a feeling to experience to contained eruption of 98 000. It was like a murmurring staccato, which suddenly became loader and loader. Si Si Si Nos Vamos A Paris (yes, yes, yes we are going to Paris). The whistle did not come soon enough, but then it did and tears were streaming down on everyone. The walk down from the stadium was slower then ever, with everyone singing. I would turn around and see the joy in the face of 70 year old men in suits, or youngsters all singing together. The smile of the lady next to me, is hard to forget. The noise of the cars, everyone, everyone was singing and dancing. Something very very rare in the reserved nation of Catalunya.

    Paris 17 May 2006
    A day that could not come soon enough. For all the time since the final whistle of the CL semifinal, this was the day. I think I thought about it constantly. For a little moment lets fight the mess with the tickets to the final (something that almost overshadow the fact that Barcelona were in their first European final since Athens), but lets remember the day for what it was. I was so nervous the whole day, that I could just not decide were I was going to watch it, it was almost going down to the very last instinct. I tried to remember all the superstitious little things that I did before the big games. However I decided to break all of them and just go with my inner feeling. In the end I can hardly remember anything of the game. Although I suspect if the Giuly's goal would not have been disallowed I believe that Barcelona would have been 3-0 up before half time. However that was not the case and the referee denied us of a true final by sending off Lehmann. This meant that Arsenal would close themselves up at the back even more efficiently and rely on Henry even more. Thierry Henry had a great chance at the start of the game, which Valdés saved, a great safe, he would later repeat that in the 70th minute. Before the first half whistle Arsenal were up by one goal. Barcelona had most off the possion, but were incapable of penetrating the Arsenal defence. Arsenal's counter attacks were poisenous, but not lethal. In the 70th minute, Henry had a one on one with Valdés, but his shot was lame. This was the moment things could turn. It was obviously not his night. Rijkaard made some fantastic substitutions, brave and precise. Iniesta came on for Emilson, Larsson and then Belleti. Iniesta would be the man dictating the game, where Arsenal were exhausted after having to play most of the game with 10 men. I believe Arsene Wenger should have been equally as brave, as a Barcelona goal would have been a big psychological blow. Instead of bring on Reyes which could have helped Henry to run at Barcelona's defenders, he brought on Flemini, a defender. Henry had been able to run past Márquez and Puyol almost at will, but not putting the ball in the net, perhaps he could have done with some help. However it was another substitutions who made a huge impact. It was going to be his last game for Barcelona, before retiring to Swedish football. Henrik Larsson, alongside was the difference. He sliced a pass through to Eto'o who scored the equaliser. Eto'o received the ball and in a lightning quick second changed feet to score with the other one and getting Almunia off balance. A few minutes later the most unlikely hero of them all was to score his first goal ever for the club. Juliano Belleti. Belleti is a player, who most fans seemed to agree, was their worst player. Someone who had no tactical ability and very often he would attack and attack, leaving a huge field behind him, where opponents would punish his team. Tonight was different though, he was supposed to attack. Larsson penetrated the ball into Belleti's path with great precision and Bam. Goal. The commentatory on the radio was fantastic. It was told with almost a coolness, when Belleti received the ball. No one believed he would score, so when he did it got everyone by surprise. Suddenly there was a new hero. Juliano Belleti. He stumbled a few metres after scoring the goal, until falling down, with Eto'o next to him crying. It was raining tropically, but that was of little matter. The players created a small Kilimanjaro replica, lying on top of each other, gasping the moment. The equaliser never seemed to arrive, I was starting to belief and tell myself: "Don't worry, it is only football". When the first one came, I knew the title would be ours. Only a couple of minutes were left and ...