September 25, 2010
San Mamés in Bilbao is located next a bend in the Nervión River and is known colloquially as The Cathedral. It's Spain's oldest stadium, having opened on August 21, 1913 and home to one of the great crowds in the footballing world. Its name--and the nickname for Athletic Bilbao--drives from its proximity to a church named for an early Christian martyr who was thrown to the lions. Los leones often live up to their ferocious name and any trip to Basque Country to face them should be accompanied by extra physios.
September 22, 2010
If you were born near Oviedo, Asturias it might be easy to grow up idolizing a player from your own hometown that made it big, nay, huge on the footballing stage. And so it makes sense that an aspiring footballer from Langreo, a small town near Oviedo, would idolize Enrique Castro González, better known as Quini, one of the greatest strikers Spain has ever produced.
And so, when David Villa joined Sporting Gijon, he looked up to Quini and when, this summer, he donned the Barça shirt, he made reverential reference to Quini's time at the Camp Nou. It was an honor, he said, to once again put on the shirt that Quini had worn. I hope they washed it first, of course.
September 19, 2010
The casual observer probably though he was a star striker, but it was Gerard Piqué, a center back, who chested the ball down off a corner and smashed it into the Atlético Madrid net. It turned out to be the winner in an entertaining match. What looked like it would develop into a walk in the park for the blaugrana after Messi scored in the 13th minute became a dogfight as Atleti began to put the boot in. Raul Garcia got on the end of a corner to equalize in the 25th minute and then Piqué scored the winner in the 32nd.
September 17, 2010
This Sunday, Barcelona travel to Madrid and the Estadio Vicente Calderon to face Atlético Madrid in what of late has been a fairly rough match for the blaugrana. The only league loss of the last campaign took place there, the previous year the squad lost 4-3, and year before was 4-2. That is, in reality, meaningless to this year's squad, but it does suggest that Atléti is a stronger squad at home than you might think. In those two years, when Atléti visited the Camp Nou, they lost 5-2, 6-1, and 3-0.
September 15, 2010
The ball thwaps the back of the net and a collective "Are you serious?" goes up from the crowd. This is not how it's supposed to go. The first 20 minutes contained all of 1 ball beyond midfield for Panathinaikos and it was promptly returned from whence it came. The bed had been properly soiled and Sidney Govou took full advantage of the space Eric Abidal afforded him and the audacious, backheel flick Djibril Cissé lifted his way; it was another Hércules, another bad day at the office - oh what's that? Messi scored from a gorgeous flick over the top from Xavi? All is right with the world again.
September 12, 2010
As Nelson Valdez smashed his and Hércules' second into the net and as I yelled out things about his mother - something between an awkward yoga pose and enhanced interrogation techniques - I realized that not only were Barça going to lose their home opener, but that this might just be a good thing. Bear with me on this one because that sounded utterly ridiculous.
September 10, 2010
This was original posted at Barcelona Football Blog, but has been edited slightly for this space:
Oh hey there. Didn’t see you sneak up on me like that. You’re so crazy. Here I am minding my own business and suddenly you pop up and make me abandon my family, loved ones, and bathing habits.
Every year La Liga starts and then goes on FIFA break, so this year I planned in both that and my own laziness in the matter and decided not to publish a preview until after the transfer window closed. Thank goodness I did. We begin with the worst and we all the way down from there to 1st, so that you can let the excitement build to the mental drum roll that will accompany the surprising trophy winner. You’ll never see it coming…