Tag Archives: Xavi

Notes from a spaced out soccer fan, Feb. 22

By Jonathan Gold

(Note: I have officially banned myself from writing about Arsenal – Orient on the advice of my physician. I have absolutely nothing to say about a team that can go toe-to-toe with the best in the world one day and then draw with Leyton goddamn Orient, or why so many good players at Arsenal are out of form or…takes drugs)

Aah, fine. Away we go.

SPAIN

The mighty Sid Lowe over at the Guardian thinks the goal scored by goalkeeper (!) Dani Aranzubia to rescue a point for incredibly dull relegation candidates Deportivo is the biggest story of the La Liga weekend, and he might be right. It was the first scored by a goalkeeper from open play in the history of the league, after all. Personally, I like his name enough that I’ve been going around saying “Arrrranzubia!” to friends and co-workers and that’s the extent my my interest in the matter. Hats off to him, though, big goal.

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The World's Best Play for Barcelona; Xavi Tops the List

Barcelona midfielder Xavi has been a remarkable career at the Camp Nou, and it is about time he be rewarded for his play by winning the Ballon d'Or as the best soccer player in the world. (Courtesy of Wikicommons)

By Kevin Koczwara

Barcelona plays soccer the right way, and they do it with a style no other team can copy. The Catalan club may be “more than a club” to the people of Barcelona in a historical and social sense, but for the rest of the soccer loving crowds, Barcelona is more than a club because the team plays like no other.

Any 11 players that walk out on to the field for Barca understand how this game was meant to be played: beautifully.

Spain’s National Team has been playing the Barcelona way for a few years now.

Spain’s dominance in the Euro’s of 2008 through the subsequent winning of the World Cup this summer looked much like that of Barcelona’s global dominance. Both the national team and Barca play the ball on the ground, pass it quickly, run into space, dominate possession, play a high defensive line, and try to score goals. Neither Spain nor Barcelona sit back, and play on the defensive for a draw. No, both teams out play and out class their opponents. The way the game wasn’t meant to be played.

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Barcelona Thrash Real Madrid to Take Top Spot in La Liga

The Catalonians weren't disappointed at the Camp Nou with Barcelona's 5-0 thrashing of Real Madrid. (Courtesy Aldas Kirvaitis)

By Kevin Koczwara

El Clasico was billed as the Messi and Ronaldo show, but we (the media) should have known games aren’t decided by two players on opposite sides. Nope. Games are decided by teams and the individuals on those teams. Barcelona’s 11 men were superior, far better, than Real Madrid’s. The 5-0 win for the Catalans was as easy as that.

Madrid couldn’t handle Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the middle of the Barcelona midfield, and most teams can’t. The two World Cup winners control tempo, don’t give up the ball and eliminate opposing teams attacking players by not allowing them to ever touch the ball. Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil were lucky to touch the ball in the first half. The only chances for Madrid came when Angel di Maria smashed a shot directly at Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes and at the end of the half when Ronaldo took one of his two free kicks and missed just wide of Valdes’ post. Other than that, it was a forgettable night for Jose Mourinho’s men.

Mourinho and company came into the Camp Nou with a one point lead over Barcelona in the table, and now, they leave with a two-point deficit and a big time humbling.

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La Liga Preview: Mourinho leading Real

Jose Mourinho took over as manager of Real Madrid days after leading Inter Milan to victor in the Champions League final. The questions of whether or not anyone can be Barcelona and whether or not Mourinho can win anywhere will be answered about nine months from now. (Photo Courtesy: APasciuto)

By Joe Meloni

Visions of Spain captain Iker Casillas proudly brandishing the nation’s first-ever World Cup trophy two months ago are still fresh in the mind of soccer fans around the globe. Surrounding him on the podium were his teammates, including the likes of Barcelona stars David Villa, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. While the group celebrated the championship together, it all ends once La Liga begins its season.

The stars of los Galacticos and the leaders of l’equip blaugrana don’t have much to celebrate together in most season. Last year, Barca edged out Real Madrid by three points and hopes to win the league for the third consecutive time.

There are, of course, other clubs in the league. But it always comes down Madrid and Barca when the season’s approaches its conclusion.

Unlike last season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thierry Henry won’t be able to help Barca to the title. And Jose Mourinho will be calling the shots in the Spanish capital.
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Who Won’t Win the World Cup Part 8: Group H

By Ryan Thies of the Long Beach Post


Today is the final day of my previews and as excited as I am for this thing to start, I am going to miss writing these–Uruguay fans, I’m going to miss you the most. Especially since you’re going to crash out in the first round, our time together will ultimately be too short.

As with many things, there is a very real possibility that the main event can’t live up to the hype. And considering this year’s top players have the shelf-life of Gulf coast shrimp, this whole thing might be won by the team that simply has the least injuries. Urm, um, that is, ya know, if it were possible to win. Which it’s not. Moving on…

Group H is just another example of the, ah, interesting grouping of teams. The only two countries in the world that speak Portuguese are grouped together. The two most prominent English-speaking countries in the world are grouped together. The conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but notice these coincidences; like have you ever noticed that FIFA always schedules Trinidad in the same group as Tobago?

But anyway, in Group H three-quarters of the group are Spanish-speaking. Now, I know what you’re gonna say: “But Ryan half the field speaks Spanish.” Well, you’re wrong, only a quarter of the field speaks Spanish (actually 7 out of 32, which isn’t even 22%). And looking at the groups, there was about a 3% chance of having a Spanish supergroup like this one. If it feels like I’m using my math nerd-dom to drag my feet because I don’t want these to end…you’re right. I’m also paving the way to refer to this as Group Menudo.

The number of teams that have a legitimate shot to win the World Cup could be counted on Rahm Emmanuel’s hand. Italy is too old, Argentina too crazy, France too old and too crazy. England, Germany, Ivory Coast, and Ghana have too many injuries to overcome. Really the only teams that have a true chance are Brazil, Netherlands, and…Spain.

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Who Will Win The World Cup?

Courtesy alexloth.com Picasa

By Kevin Koczwara and Ryan Fleming

Ryan and I talked about a lot of stories we could write about who could and who would win the World Cup over the last few months. I have rattled my brain over and over again trying to make arguments for players and teams I like, but only one team stood out from the rest for me — it was almost the new look Brazil team lead by Dunga. Ryan thought about who could win the World Cup, especially on style points — so not the new look Brazil. He kept coming back to a certain color, a certain team that has had bundles of talent, but only one major trophy. Our picks are similar in this way. We each picked a team that has never won a World Cup, but has certainly had the talent to do so. We both picked teams that are about attacking their opponents, not sitting back and waiting. We picked teams that as Americans turn us on to the beautiful game.

Let’s take a look…

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World Cup Preview Pt. 6: Group H

By Kevin Koczwara

This will be the final entry into what was suppose to be a four part series on the group stage of the World Cup, but it has turned into a drawn out 6 part series. After this post I will write up a quick post with all of my predictions for winners of the group stages and let anyone disagree with me.

For this final entry I will talk about Group H — the last group. This may be the easiest group to predict. Continue reading

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A Weekend of Rivalries

By Kevin Koczwara

This weekend was another weekend of big games with top-four implications, fights for first place, and possible relegation for a perennial mid-table team.

There was the Merseyside derby in Liverpool, Everton verse Liverpool, and the ‘El Clasico’ in Spain between La Liga’s giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Both matches are always important to fans of the clubs and the players, and like most years, these derby’s were important for the clubs themselves as they try and wrangle good position in their respected leagues.

Let’s Start in Spain

This isn’t just a game, it is a rivalry steeped in history, politics and features two of the most popular and powerful clubs in the world.

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Champions League Live Blog Experience

By Kevin Koczwara

Today The Soccer Guys are going to do something unprecedented. I am not going to write a column, a news wrap, or anything of the sort. I am going to Live Blog the Liverpool vs Debrecen game and (this is a bold and) update the scores of other games that are being played. Lots of computer screen watching, television watching and the likes today for a few hours. But it will be done.

So check back in around 2:20 p.m. (est) for all the news and happenings before the game. Should be a doozy of a day.

2:30 p.m. Fox Soccer Channel has an interview with Lucas…don’t know why. But it is good filler.

2:35 Line-ups announced:

Liverpool Debrecen

25 Pepe Reina (G)                   (G) Vukasin Poleksic 1

37 Martin Skrtel (CD-L)       (CD-L) N Meszaros 17

23 Jamie Carragher (CD-R)       (CD-R) Adam Komlósi 16

22 Emiliano Insua (LB)          (LB) Marcell Fodor 21

2 Glen Johnson (RB)                (RB) Laszlo Bodnar 10

21 Lucas (CM-L)                      (CM-L) Zoltán Kiss 30

8 Steven Gerrard (CM-R)    (CM-R) Luis Ramos 6

11 Alberto Riera (LM)            (LM) Péter Szakály 55

15 Yossi Benayoun (RM)                 (RM) Peter Czvitkovics 77

9 Fernando Torres (CF-L)            (ST) Adamo Coulibaly 39

18 Dirk Kuyt (CF-R)        (RCF) Leandro 4

2:40 Cesc Fabergas is starting in the Arsenal game. Big news for Arsenal Fans, but no Arsharvin yet.

2:45 Notably no Mascherano on the Liverpool side. His fitness for this weekend’s game is now in question.

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