Nou Campy

Last Wednesday, FC Barcelona beat PSG in the second leg at home in the Camp Nou to advance in the Champions League. Barca features three of the soccer’s best attacking players – Messi, Neymar, and Suarez – and, before the first game, they were expected to advance past the Parisians. Then, Barca went and lost the first leg by four goals. That was bad. Very bad.

Yet they won the second 6-1 and the Camp Nou erupted. Still, some questions have to be asked.

Continue reading “Nou Campy” »

A Decay in the Art of Trash-talking

One of my favorite football pathologies is when a team is losing and fans observe that no player is yelling during games, and complain about a “lack of leadership.” The three assumptions behind this argument: (1) Leadership is atomic and individualized, (2) Leadership is the same as yelling, and (3) Leadership enjoys a causal, not correlative, relationship with results, all make me chuckle.

Yet I don’t want to laugh. I do want to wax, old timer lament style, on a decay in modern sport and the gift of gab. I, refer, to the poetic and oral tradition of “talking shit.” Continue reading “A Decay in the Art of Trash-talking” »

Belated Holiday Gifts You Deserve

Christmas is all about love and family and yultide greetings and adorable bandanas on dogs and snow and giving gifts to others. Now that Christmas has passed, though, it’s time to revert to your selfish, materialist ways. And I have just the best auto-regalos for your stocking.

Of course, they revolve around football and smart writing. Continue reading “Belated Holiday Gifts You Deserve” »

The Best Soccer Narratives I Could Possibly Fathom Not Hearing Ever Again

Yesterday, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United played Liverpool in Liverpool. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. Of course, some nil nil draws can be exciting games, pulsating affairs that draw deserved “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. This was not one of them. Over 90 minutes, Liverpool created two chances: a quick snapshot that David DeGea palmed away to the right, and speculative curler from distance that DeGea palmed away to his left.

In between, a lot of nothing happened. Continue reading “The Best Soccer Narratives I Could Possibly Fathom Not Hearing Ever Again” »

Edson Cavani and Greatness by Contrast

What do you think about Uruguayan striker Edson Cavani? Yeah, I have no clue either. In general, we soccer fans like our greatness as our oatmeal: consistent throughout. Cavani, though, is perhaps the least consistent consistently great striker in Europe. He’s scored goals by the boatloads for his club teams in Italy and France, and also a few big ones for Uruguay.

Still, one can’t get over a sinking sensation when you watch him play: does this guy know what he’s doing? Continue reading “Edson Cavani and Greatness by Contrast” »

Hungover Dispatches from Htown: Messi Walks on Water Edition

Futfanatico is closed for the summer as per usual. In fact, the only editor is not even in the United States of America: how dare him! Thus, this random dispatch from GonzoBro is even less edited and less relevant than ever, yet we need pageviews so here goes.

I.

“On assignment” means one thing to baller freelancers like me: watching adult films on the company dime late at night while staying in some roach-infested Howard Johnson motel in the crummy neighborhood of a somewhat major metropolitan area. That fact may creep you out, but honesty and fidelity to truth at all costs are the trademark of GonzoBra.

Every time you see a byline at The Guardian like “Tom Dart in Dallas“, I think: how many Debbie films did this guy catch between flights during his cursory three-hour stay at a Day’s Inn? “On assignment” means “on our” means stags will be stags roaming the wild and its always ever so much fun and glamorous and they don’t serve peanuts in coach anymore and you have zero space to rest your elbows but you are paid to travel hence travel is suddenly fun.

Yet this odd thing happened: Lionel Fucking Messi and the the Argentinian national team came to play a game vs. the US in my own backyard: Houston. On Assignment suddenly meant zero travel, just futbol. Of course, the codo mofos at Futfanatico couldn’t land me press credentials. Should I bother? Could I cook up some content to get paid to pay back a relative who stopped talking to me a few months ago?

The Heavens answered, shouted, cried out: HELL YEAH. SMy wife of all people insisted we attend the Argentina-US match…but not actually pay to enter the stadium. I had no clue what this bonita broad was cooking, but I lapped it up and was ready for whatever whenever. Continue reading “Hungover Dispatches from Htown: Messi Walks on Water Edition” »

Requiem for a Team

When Florentino Perez hired Zinedine Zidane as manager, the prevailing narrative was simple: he had messed up the hiring of Rafa Benitez in the summer, and Zizou would play the part of the Di Stefano “player-coach” who filled in coaching gaps. Instead, he’s showed a touch of Del Bosque: a manager with a gift for managing egos and clear tactical ideas plus a bit of game-planning.

Which is why he will be fired much too soon by Real Madrid. Continue reading “Requiem for a Team” »

The Champions League Final and the Boy Who Would Be King

Many years ago, I wrote this piece on Dirk Kuyt for this odd thing called a “soccer blog” and that many people named “the Run of Play.” The premise was simple: Dirk Kuyt, then at Liverpool, was really slow, but worked really hard, and scored ugly goals from time to time. This was back in 2009. Kuyt was a stark contrast to Liverpool’s other striker at the time, Fernando “El Nino” Torres, who ran like the wind and scored goals with the same ease as you and I blink.

Yet seven years later, things have flipped. Continue reading “The Champions League Final and the Boy Who Would Be King” »