Thursday, August 28, 2008

Siempre con nosotro

Today is the first anniversary of the death of Antonio Puerta. He was just twenty two. His son Aitor will be one on October 22nd.

Champions League Draw

The bore-a-thon that is the European Cup draw was on today and Barça got something of a joke group. Sporting Lisbon, Basel and Shaktar are fairly poor sides and I would expect, with the possible exception of a trip to Donetsk in early October, that the blaugrana will take maxium points.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gold, Gold, Gold! Messi, Messi, Messi!

Despite being played in the middle of day in 42 degree heat, the final of the Olympic Futbol was pretty good, which given it was like six in the morning when I was watching it, can only be considered a plus. While it was no Brasil-Argentina, it was still an exciting game, with a wonderful chipped gol from Benfica winger Angel Di Maria, running on to a pass from Leo Messi. While I still think having futbol in the Olympics is ridiculous (though perhaps not as ridiculous as beach volleyball), it was incredibly enjoyable to see Juan Roman Riquelme, so often on the wrong side of the result in big games, pick up a gold (in addition to putting away a penalty against Brasil).

Away from Beijing, Barça tonight secured their place in the Champions League proper despite a 1-0 loss away to Wisla. Given that they won the first leg 4-0, the game tonight hardly mattered, though it's still disappointing to have lost to such mediocre opposition. Still, no injuries and it ought focus their minds ahead of the opening game away to Numancia on Sunday (Sky Sports One, 6pm via the interactive service). What else? Joan Laporta will see out his term as president, a move that serves everyone bar Sandro Rosell, very well. I'm quite the Laporta-ite so I was always going to cheer this news but even given his mistakes, I don't think removing him would have done any good. For a start we'd only be electing a new board now and the likes of Dani Alves wouldn't have been signed and more importantly, Ronaldinho would still at the club.

In conclusion, two things that are worth your time and attention. Firstly, there was an excellent interview with Cesc Fabregas in The Observer on Sunday. Cesc is a top bloke so have a read. Secondly, the BBC Storyville documentary, Barça - The Inside Story, is up on youtube and can be viewed here. It's split into nine parts and the quality is terrible but considering I've being trying to torrent this for ages and gotten no-where, I'll take what I can get. My favourite parts are Ferran Soriano's wedding and 'dinho's first gol at the Camp Nou (against Sevilla in the game that kicked off at five past midnight). A superb piece of film-making.

And that's it for now. I'll post a full season preview before kick off on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It begins. Again.

Futbol, as I'm sure you're aware, is back. La Liga doesn't kick off until the final weekend of August but already there's been a lot goin' on since I last got up on this wire. Marc Crosas has gone to Celtic, Samuel Eto'o has decided to stay put (and so too, thankfully, has Emmanuel Adebayor), Oleguer has finalised his move to Ajax, the wrangling over Leo Messi's participation in the Olympics came to a head (he stayed despite the judgement in Barça's favour and thanks to a 3-0 victory over Brasil today, he's in the final), Bojan has been called into the Spain squad to face Denmark in tomorrow's friendly, all the pre-season games and the first proper one have been won in style and by some margin (the late, late win over Boca accepted) and erm, that's it really. No further resignations from the board, no motions of no confidence, no new signings (and it appears unlikely that there will be any more), no strops, no injuries, no meltdowns.

Everything I've mentioned is kinda old news bar the futbol today in Beijing so I'm not going to comment except to say that right now I'm incredibly confident going into the new season. Barça have an amazing squad of players and Guardiola has them playing superb stuff. Given that Madrid haven't really improved (van der Vaart is no great addition and their decision to loan Garay back to Racing is baffling given their lack of cover at centre back), Villarreal have the added strains of the Champions League to contend with, Sevilla, though they've bought well, have sold their best players and Valencia are still all over the place, the blaugrana are very well placed to take back the title. A run at the CL isn't beyond them either.

Given that there are just under two weeks to go I won't be all that active on the blog unless there's some sensational news (and I'm unlikely to see the second leg of the Wisla game either) but consider this a gentle warm up, nothing as intensive as what Peps been putting the players through, but we'll get there.