Randoms: Classico/GolTV/Q & A/US Bits


Some unforeseen circumstances prevented me from watching El Classico live on Sunday afternoon but I was able to spend an unusually lovely early Monday morning catching up.

Definitely a big win for Barca to move them back to the top of La Liga, but playing at home this is a game they must take all 3 points from.

Barcelona didn't look as sharp as their midweek encounter against Inter but I would argue that this Real Madrid team is much stronger. The inclusion of Ibrahimovic around the 50' seemed to turn things in Barca's favor slightly and he was able to finish their best chance of the match, further enhancing the genius of Pep. The ball from Dani Alves also must be praised, perfectly weighted and right out of Xavi's bag; more often than you would like his crosses seem to sail but when he delivers accurately, they are so dangerous. As predicted, Ibra seems to be slightly more suited to Barca's possession game of short, accurate passing than Eto'o was. Phil Schoen (the American GolTV announcer) noted that Barca is still adjusting to him but it seems a more natural fit in my opinion.

Carles Puyol was definitely deserving of man of the match accolades as he made at least two huge tackles in the second to prevent clear, point blank shots. Victor Valdes also made a huge save on CR9 early on in the game preventing RM from taking an early lead.

Speaking of CR9, in case anyone forgot he is as good as any footballer in the world when completely healthy. Based on last years body of work, Lionel Messi will probably win this year's Ballon d'or but the difference between the two at this point is almost negligible and will certainly make El Classico the biggest club game on the planet for the foreseeable future.

Barcelona v Real Madrid 11/29/09 Highlights....courtesy of ESPN Deportes via Youtube


For better or worse, while watching any soccer on GolTV you cannot help but take note of the announcing tandem of Phil Schoen and Ray Hudson. Schoen plays the part of the calm play-by-play man while Hudson gets to wax poetic about the brilliance of Lionel Messi.

It is a fascinating tandem and a year ago I would have told you that I didn't like Schoen (rhymes with Spain) or Hudson. However, GolTV's penchant to show such a wide variety of La Liga matches seems to have served Schoen well. He posseses a broad knowledge of both the world game and specifically the Spanish league which (I would imagine this stretches to the Brazilian and German leagues which he also must commentate on a weekly basis) allows him to provide some excellent insights into the game which enhance the viewing experience.

Ray Hudson is a character, an english language announcer who has no parallel as no other network would allow for such an animated and opinionated commentator. He is over the top but his passion for the game is constantly on display and despite consistent exaggerations (Ibra 2x the player that Eto'o is? really?!) he makes the broadcasts enjoyable and flavorful. He has also spawned a series of YouTube greatest hits videos....

Zen and the art of watching football commentated by Ray Hudson....


In light of the recent UEFA investigation rooted in Germany; an excellent Q&A from the NYTimes goal blog on match fixing with the journalistic authority.

I am not sure I completely agree with all points he makes but I am always a fan of the alternative/challenging point of view; another Q&A with Simon Kuper, the author of the recently released "Soccernomics"

America!!! - FUCK YEA!

Due to injury, Clint Dempsey got moved up front for Fulham last week v Blackburn and immediately paid dividends....twice motherfuckers.

Original Video - More videos at TinyPic

Please BB, tell me you were paying attention to this! Please.

In other USMNT news, the
No Short Corners blog reports that the US will be playing another friendly in the Netherlands on March 3rd. An excellent tune up for South Africa.

Also, can't forget that Friday at Noon is the draw for next summer. A huge day in the international soccer community as it lays the blueprint for what will be 4 weeks of joy beginning on June 11, 2010.

I might try to live blog it, but a) I have to be "working and b) I am not sure anyone will pay attention. We'll see though.

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