Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Letter writing campaign

Dear Mr. Rijkaard,

it has come to my attention that Javier Saviola, the Argentine striker currently at Barcelona, has scored six gols in the past three games, including a hat-trick tonight against Alaves in the Copa Del Rey. Please start him at the weekend ahead of that waster from Iceland who has stolen his number seven shirt.

Regards,

Thomas Kelly

Concerned Cule

Barça also conceded two tonight against a team in the Segunda Liga, twelfth in the Segunda, and were generally rubbish aside from Javier. Thankfully their next game is against 'nastic, a team who ought be in the Segunda.

In other news, Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon railed on just about everyone today; the players, the fans, former club president Florentino Perez and Real punching bag de jour, David Beckham. And the club fined coach Fabio Capello for giving the finger to fans at the Saragossa game on Sunday. It's always nice to know that however bad things are at Barça right now they're so much worse in Madrid. Good night.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Royalist Rumble

One gol against Chelsea. That was about the sum total of Maxi Lopez contribution while he was at Barcelona. Most of the time he didn't even make the squad let alone start a game so it was no surprise when he was loaned out to island side RCD Mallorca in the summer. Since joining the Balearic side he's scored two gols in nine starts in La Liga. One of those was last night, against Sevilla, to win the match 1-2 and end the league leaders unbeaten run at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and get his former side out of the massive hole they left themselves in having lost to Espanyol 3-1, giving the other side from Barcelona their first derby victory in twenty five years.

Barcelona were dreadful on Saturday night (suffer if you must the 'highlights') With Saviola again dropped to the bench despite his two gols against Alaves in midweek, Gudjohnsen toiled upfront in that aimless, useless way of his. 'dinho was again out of sorts and the blaugrana's best player by a mile was Victor Valdes, who kept the score somewhat respectable. Bar
ça haven't won a league match since they squeezed past Sociedad in early December. With FCB looking tired and flat, Espanyol positively blew them away with swift and incisive counter-attacking. Defensively Barcelona were a shambles (again) and Valdes had shots flying at him from all angles. It was real horror show.

The result leaves Barcelona level on points with Real Madrid and two behind Sevilla. Quite how Real, playing like a pub team at times this season are still within shouting distance of the top I don't know. They beat Saragossa 1-0 last night in what was a very poor match indeed.

About the only good news is that Samuel Eto'o will return to training today. He won't be starting a match anytime soon but my it's good to have him back.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

City of Angels: Beckham, LA and the New Football

This weekend Barcelona take on Espanyol in the derby. After an exceptionaly poor performance against Getafe last Sunday and markedly improved one against Alaves in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday, thanks chiefly to the fabulous Javier Saviola who scored both gols, the blaugrana will still be missing Deco (he picked up a knock in training) but will have 'dinho back against their royalist neighbours, having been suspended for the trip to Madrid. Ah Madrid.

With Zizou retired, Figo pensioned off to Inter and Ronaldo seemingly content to sit on the bench and gain weight, all eyes were on David Beckham when the January transfer window opened. The last galactico, frozen out of the team by a hard-nosed Fabio Capello was certain to get the heave-ho with his contract expiring in the summer. Having toiled at the Bernabeu for three-and-a-half years to little effect, watching the club implode on all fronts, seeing coach after coach getting the sack, dispairing as his team listed on the pitch; Beckham's time at Real will be judged by many as a failure. As news of Becks move to Los Angeles broke on Thursday it was hard not to feel like he'd given up. Given up on being a serious footballer, given up on a recall to the England squad, given up on winning anything. For such a proud man who always gives his all, this is quite a climb down.

The super human Iker Casillas aside, Beckham has easily been Real's best player in the past three seasons. While Raul laboured, Cassano bitched and moaned, Ronaldo got fatter and Roberto Carlos ballooned free kicks into the stratosphere, Becks never coasted, never let games pass him by, he always made the effort. Which makes his semi-retirement to Los Galactios do Los Angeles more than a little sad.

I've always liked Becks, despite his becoming a Madridista. He's a good footballer rather than a great one but he's made the most of his talents, his looks and his brand and turned himself into a superstar. Victoria had her part to play of course but if Golden Balls hadn't scored 'that' gol against Wimbledon, nailed 'that' freekick against Greece, taking England to the World Cup, played for the best and most popular team in the world, well, she'd be an ex-Spice Girl and we certainly wouldn't be talking about $250 million over five years.

I wish him well in LA. He will of course do very well, be seen at all the right parties, tear it up on Rodeo Drive, live in a great house, be followed everywhere he goes by Splash News and Big Pictures, win the SuperBowl, run for President, save the whales, win the war in Iraq and look great doing it.

Normal blaugrana service will return tomorrow with a match report on the derby.