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Mourinho Disgraces Spanish Football Once Again

18 Aug

Everything was going so well. Sure, a few harsh and untimely challenges from both clubs, but it will always be an element of this bitter rivalry. For ninety minutes (plus the ninety from the first leg on Sunday), Real Madrid and Barcelona wowed the masses with a display of football that puts both clubs light years ahead of the rest of the competition. Finesse, technique, ambition, and creativity all personified in an open, attacking Supercopa that saw plenty of goals from both sides and Messi’s brilliance to the rescue once again. And then Marcelo ruined it.

In an attempt to “close down” Fabregas on the touchline, the Brazilian launched into a two-footed scissor kick, scything the Catalan to the floor. It wasn’t cynical. It was criminal.  No more helpful was the fact that it occurred in front of both benches, bringing substitutes and coaches into the subsequent melee. Marcelo rightly saw red and luckily, Fabregas did not suffer any serious injury. And then Mourinho ruined it even more.

With a conniving shit-smirk on his face, after standing just feet away from the grotesque assault on Fabregas, Mourinho decided to have some fun. Not knowing whether Marcelo’s challenge had quite possibly shattered Fabregas’ ankle, he meandered into the fracas and plunged his finger into the right eye of Tito Vilanova (video below). Credit Barcelona’s assistant for not completely losing control after having his eye gauged – a show of composure that should be applauded. But what to make of Mourinho? Arsene Wenger now looks completely sane and rational compared to his former nemesis.

It all comes to a head now for the Portuguese manager. His antics over the past two seasons have resulted in an attempted stabbing, conspiracy theories, suspensions, and an overall disregard for the gentlemanly class of Spanish football. Last night trumped them all. The severity of attacking a fellow coach like that cannot be understated. No less after the horrific challenge by Marcelo, when Mourinho should have escorted his left-back straight to the dressing room. But he didn’t. His actions once again represent a tacit approval of the harsh, bullying physicality imposed by his own players on the pitch.

A line has been crossed and it is time for the LFP to show that they truly care about the image of their league and hand down severe punishment on Mourinho. He should be banned for at least five matches – perhaps more. Assault and inciting violence, because he sure as hell wasn’t a peacekeeper, are as reprehensible an offense any manager in any sport can commit. On the eve of a players’ strike which could shut down the opening two weeks of La Liga, an opportunity presents itself for the LFP to display a semblance of credibility. For the sake of Spanish football, let’s hope they do.

(On another note, I cannot allow my fellow Barcelona supporters to emerge unscathed. The monkey chants directed at Marcelo throughout the second half were disgusting and shameful. Racism continues to give Spanish football a black eye, while any sort of punishment from the LFP is as likely as humans inhabiting Mars tomorrow. The “say no to racism” campaign is a complete joke when the suits behind it are spineless, cowardly individuals unable and unwilling to punish the culprits.)


Real Madrid Blackballs Shakira

30 Mar

Just another chapter in the Real Madrid vs Barcelona rivalry.

No couple has garnered more attention and criticism over the past few months than Shakira and Gerard Pique. On the one hand, the guy is punching above his weight by about 10 years so who are we to cry foul? On the other hand, a noticeable drop in performance has plagued Pique recently and I’m assuming that lack of sleep has EVERYTHING to do with it… Tabloids aside, the general public seems to have embraced the couple and avoided affecting their daily lives. Until now.

Real Madrid decided that Shakira’s relationship with the Barcelona center back automatically classifies her as a Barcelona supporter by association. As such, officials at the club have decided to remove any and all Shakira music from the Bernabeu speakers. Her vocal dribble known as “Waka Waka” was a staple prior to matches.

Considering the excessive and abhorrent sums of money Madrid shells out on players and anything else to ensure they top all categorical rankings, it’s safe to assume the Columbian diva is waving goodbye to a decent amount of royalties.

Madrid fans are rejoicing as this decision represents the closest they have come to defeating Barcelona at anything over the past three years…

(Photo courtesy of El Mundo Deportivo)

How To Train Riot Horses

26 Jan

Cue the Magnificent Seven theme song. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Eli Wallach, Brad Dexter – a menacing force riding into town to protect the locals and eliminate a marauding group of vandals. A typical American western flick, and arguably the greatest of all time. Fast forward fifty years and the image of the law atop the four-legged animal is as prominent as it was then.

This time, the intentions are not heroism but duty. Not an assertion of force, but a prevention of chaos. Not cowboys and indians, but riot police and hooligans.

In preparation of tonight’s Copa Del Rey semifinal first leg in Andalusia featuring Seville and Real Madrid, the mounted police have been practicing extensively for any potential crowd trouble. No less than 160 cavalry will be deployed in the surrounding streets outside the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium no ensure that nothing gets out of hand. The above video, shows the preparation for the horses in an obstacle course that mimics real life situations – vuvuzelas, live ammunition, drums, flags, tear gas, and men banging the lids of garbage cans. There’s even a western soundtrack towards the end.

These horses look like something out of Lord of the Rings adorned in armor, padding, and shields!! Word to the wise – don’t pick a fight with these guys.

Madrid Official Shoved to the Ground

20 Dec

Sunday’s encounter between Real Madrid and Sevilla was anything but a visually appealing spectacle – 40 fouls, 9 yellow cards, and 2 red cards. However, a delightful piece of magic from Angel Di Maria in the 76th minute proved to be the only goal, denying Sevilla a point and allowing the Madridistas to keep pace with Barcelona.

While the referee was busy overseeing the boxing match on the pitch, he could do nothing to prevent the confrontation on the sideline between members of both teams’ coaching staffs. At halftime as both teams headed for the locker rooms, Real Madrid’s goalie coach Silvino Louro got into a spat with Gonzalo Hurtado, one of the Sevilla assistants. After some yelling, Louro went after the Sevilla coach and inadvertently shoved Agustín Herrerín to the ground, a Bernabeu official. The older looking gentleman hit the ground rather hard, but was able to get up immediately.

There’s always something troubling about seeing an old man thrown to the ground, although that concern does not seem to affect the Sevilla players, who look more preoccupied with getting inside than intervening in the altercation.

El Clásico Preview – Barcelona vs Real Madrid

29 Nov

Today, the footballing world will come to a halt for the most anticipated match, in the greatest rivalry on the planet. For purists, front-runners, and neutrals, there is something to savor in every aspect of this match. Barcelona’s beautiful game. Real Madrid’s stonewall defense and lethal counter-strikes. Messi vs Ronaldo. Mourinho vs Guardiola. Catalans vs Madrileños. Not to mention 13 Spanish internationals. Ten of the starting XI from the final vs Holland.

Barcelona fans have already stoned an assistant coach as well as two players, in addition to the Madrid team bus which shattered a window. We get it, they don’t like each other and tensions are higher than ever before. Not since Figo’s return to the Camp Nou have we seen such excitement and anticipation. How will it play out? Let’s delve into the main match ups to highlight the keys to victory for both clubs. Continue reading

WAG Wednesday Special Edition – Barcelona vs Real Madrid

24 Nov

While there will be an epic battle on the pitch, an equally enticing battle of WAGS goes on unnoticed behind the scenes. Both teams boast some of the world’s best players, and with that comes the pristine privilege of bagging the best looking girls on offer. I can tell you off the bat that Cristiano Ronaldo could run away with this competition on his own, blind folded, and on one leg. But where’s the fun in that?! The rest of the team deserves a shot at glory.

It may be that the guys in the white shirts use much more hair gel and flaunt excessive designer clothing than their Catalan rivals, which is why they could be considered more attractive mates. But then again, the Barcelona players have championships, and lots of them. And we all know every girl loves a winner.

I’ll let you be the judge…

Continue reading

El Clásico Preview – Guardiola vs Mourinho

23 Nov

If you can find me a better match-up of managers and minds, be my guest. Their work ethic, style, and philosophy puts them on a level never before seen. Okay, Mourinho and Sir Alex had their duels back in England. But Guardiola, with all due respect to the Scotsman, is a completely different animal…and much more hungry.

The history of these two men dates back to 1990’s, when Mourinho joined Barcelona as Sir Bobby Robson’s assistant, and later Louis Van Gaal’s. Barcelona won the European Cup Winner’s Cup as well as two league titles in Mourinho’s time there.  The focal point of that team – the proverbial cog in the wheel – was none other than Pep Guardiola. He had epitomized the role of central midfielder, winning the European Cup four years before Mourinho arrived.

They were different then. They are different now. I love Mourinho and I hate him. I love him because of his arrogance, his narcissism, and his ability to make any team a champion in no time at all.  I hate him because of his arrogance, his narcissism, and his ability to make any team a champion in no time at all. Tito Vilanova, Guardiola’s right hand man, said of Mourinho the other week, “He is a football manager who never talks about football.” Call me a purist, or call Mourinho brilliant for taking attention away from his players, but it is a style of managing that simply gets under your skin. Agree with it or not, nobody has ever done it like Mourinho.

Guardiola is a psychotic workaholic. Up 8-0 against Almeria over the weekend, Guardiola barely sat on the bench. He is always managing, always directing, always looking at the smallest errors and mistakes. Can you blame him? The man has created a system decades in the making, taking the Dutch idea of “Total Football” to an unthinkable level. Not to mention, he always talks about football. He is as cool as a cucumber during press conferences, and never gets mired in managerial cheap shots. It’s about the players and the game on the pitch. Nothing else.


Guardiola’s combination of shaved head, heavy beard, sweater/cardigan, tie, and suit or jeans and a flannel checkered shirt are epic. Mourinho has trouble keeping his socks up (he’s always pulling them up on the sideline), and looks incredibly sloppy with the loose tie. Advantage Guardiola

Guardiola won an unprecedented 6 trophies in his first season as manager. In 8 seasons of management with 3 teams, Mourinho has 2 Champions League trophies, 1 UEFA Cup, and 6 domestic trophies. Advantage Mourinho

Guardiola speaks fluent English. He probably spoke a little Italian while at Brescia for a season. Mourinho learned Catalan when he coached Barcelona. He learned Italian with a Milanese dialect at Inter Milan. He spoke English while at Chelsea. However, it is unfair to fault Guardiola who has coached nowhere but Spain. Draw

Guardiola LOVES Coldplay. Mourinho sobbed when he said goodbye to Marco Materazzi. Draw

Guardiola’s press conferences are kinda boring. Raspy voice and all, he’s never good for a soundbite because it is impossible to bait him into angry responses. Mourinho’s press conferences should interrupt every channel on the planet. He grips the room like a fat kid clings to candy bar. Advantage Mourinho

Guardiola sprints down the sideline at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho jogs onto the pitch at the Camp Nou. Speed kills in this game. Advantage Guardiola

Too close to call!! Both of these guys are class acts, and arguably the most respected managers in the world. There will be as much excitement on the sideline as there is on the field of play.

(Photo courtesy of

El Clásico Preview – Messi vs Ronaldo

23 Nov

If I may borrow the words of Pep Guardionla, “Es una puta barbaridad” – it’s f***ing barbaric. Not the unprecedented and historic point tally both Barcelona and Real Madrid accumulated last season to which Guardiola was referring to, but the output of the two best players in the world. Raw numbers do more justice than poetic prose:

Lionel Messi (23) – 16 goals in his last 9 competitive matches. 19 goals in 15 appearances in all competitions. 13 goals in 10 league matches. He has scored in each of the team’s last 8 consecutive matches. 6 multi-goal matches this season – 2 hat tricks and 4 doubles.

Cristiano Ronaldo (25) – 17 goals in 18 appearances in all competitions. 15 goals in 12 league matches (current league leader). 5 multi goal matches this season –  3 doubles, 1 hat trick, and 1 four goal tally. He is the highest scorer in Real Madrid history at this stage of the season. He is the first Real Madrid player to lead the league in goals heading into the clásico since Ildefonso Fernando Sañudo García back in 1935/36.

Who or what can stop them is a question better left unanswered – you’d spend the rest of your life trying. The easy answer is you can’t – you can only hope to contain them. There are, however, two possible ways of containment.

First, injure them (not recommended). Second, cut off their supply, although that won’t really work either as they are too intelligent to allow it. They may line up on the wings, but just to start. Should they find it hard to receive the ball, both have shown a tendency to drift into the middle or even to the center circle in order to receive the ball. No matter what you do, they will find a way to get the ball at their feet. At which point, as an opponent, start praying. I will say that Messi, more so than Ronaldo, comes back to the ball more often. And that comes down to the system. Khedira, Alonso, and Ozil dominate the middle and usually don’t stray to the sidelines. Ronaldo can disappear from matches. Messi on the other hand has much more freedom to roam in Guardiola’s system making him that much more deadly. The bottom line is, you can only hope to contain them. You probably won’t.


Messi likes paying with legos. Ronaldo likes to pout and sit on the ground crying like a baby. Advantage Messi

Messi has a cute little girlfriend. Ronaldo bangs supermodels, lingerie models, cover girls, swimsuit models…you get the point. Advantage Ronaldo

Messi’s hair flaps in the wind like a 5 year old’s bowl cut. Ronaldo has a an incredibly dumb looking “mohawk.” Advantage Messi

Messi likes his shorts baggy like a basketball player. Ronaldo opts for short shorts. Advantage Ronaldo

Messi is everyone’s favorite little big kid. Ronaldo is everyone’s bratty pain in the ass. Advantage Messi

It’s settled! Kind of… The biggest game in the world calls for the biggest superstars to perform. Ronaldo has never scored a goal in Barcelona. Messi has never scored against a Mourinho managed side. Something better give.

(Photo courtesy of

El Clásico Preview – The Ref

23 Nov

Eduardo Iturralde González is the man charged with officiating El Clásico. The 42 year old Basque dentist is known for being quite unsparing with his bookings, and lacks many friends around the league. Last season, he led all La Liga referees with 102 yellow cards, 15 more than the next guy. He averaged 6 cards a match, which ranked second for referees officiating at least 10 matches.

This season he’s no better. 22 yellow cards in only 3 matches including 1 straight red. His average is up to 7.33 yellow cards a match, ranking him 4th among active officials.

Monday will be his third clásico. Both previous matches saw Barcelona defeat Madrid 3-0 in 2004/05 and 2005/06. (The latter was the very match we celebrated last week when Ronaldinho was applauded off the pitch by the Madrid faithful.)

Historically, here is how he’s fared officiating both clubs:

31 matches
20 wins, 7 draws, 4 losses
4 players sent off, 9 opponents
10 penalties in favor, 6 against

Real Madrid
36 matches
22 wins, 3 draws, 11 defeats
6 players sent off, 7 opponents
10 penalties in favor, 6 against

Let’s all hope that he is not the main focus on Tuesday. We all know the tensions and competitive edge for both clubs will be full tilt. Any thought of nerves or cagey performances should be thrown by the wayside. There will be fouls and plenty of  physical play. Iturralde must issue his bookings cautiously, or the entire ebb-and-flow of the match will be ruined.

(Statistics courtesy of

Historical Monday Clásicos

22 Nov

It’s Clásico week here on the Footy for the Soul!! A week in the full sense of the word as the epic match-up will be played on a Monday this year. No worries – anger and dismay have already been expressed, and we can now look ahead to the game itself.

To start, a trip down memory lane to the previous two instances when El Clásico featured on a Monday, both played at the Camp Nou coincidentally:

March 30, 1964 – Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 1

Madrid took a valuable three points with only three matches to play in the season. Francisco Gento opened the scoring for the visitors which was nullified by a José Antonio Zaldúa equalizer nine minutes later. Only sixteen minutes after that, the incomparable Hungarian Ferenc Puskás put Madrid ahead for good. The important three points allowed them to stay top of the league and ultimately win their 10th La Liga title by a four point margin over their rivals.

April 3, 1972 – Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 0

Revenge! An 11th minute strike from Juan Manuel Asensi was all the home side needed to hold off their opponents.  Didn’t matter much in the end however. Barcelona finished third on 43 points, four points behind Real Madrid who won their 15th championship.

Next Monday will be the all important rubber match.  We should expect more goals than the above two combined.

(Photos courtesy of El Mundo Deportivo and Marca)
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