The Five Billion Person Party

Notes of a wandering American soccer fan

Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

When Life Imitates Dream Team, Xerez edition

Posted by steigs on March 24, 2009

Boy, I’m glad that Villareal chose this team to loan out Jozy Altidore to.  Sounds like a healthy environment for a teen.  More from the Guardian:

A brothel. A gun. The dead of night. And a football club president sporting a black eye. Sex, violence, intrigue and the game (football, you understand, not the game): the perfect ingredients for a crime novel. Police have let him off without charge, but Joaquín Bilbao has resigned as president of Xerez after he was involved in a drive-by shooting. In the early hours of last Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, according to reports, Bilbao turned up at a local puticlub and wanted to sleep with a Russian girl. When he took exception to being told that the club was closed, a fight ensued. Rather than go home and cool down, he drove off and returned an hour later. Shots were fired at the door of the club with Bilbao’s gun. The chauffeur said it was him and a bruised Bilbao has walked – free from jail and away from the club. “It’s better for the institution for me to go,” he said but his nocturnal escapades have done little harm to his club: Xerez are top of the Second Division.

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When Life Imitates Dream Team, Atletico edition

Posted by steigs on March 24, 2009

Ah, Atletico Madrid, a romantic mess of the Spanish League.  So stylish right now with Aguero et al, yet so easy to score upon.  And so messed up internally.  The Guardian explains how they are Harchester-worthy:

Resino might have been allowed to ditch Maniche, the pie-munching midfielder Aguirre was obliged to play, but he still has a dressing room where the players do not get on. He still has a squad that’s brilliant up front and awful at the back. He still has footballers so bad that, team-“mates” admit: “You can’t even risk giving them the ball.” He still has a right-back who dislikes football almost as much as the rest of the players dislike him. He still has a captain in a huff and a playmaker who hates his guts. Meanwhile, his best players – all four of them – still want to leave. Above all, Resino still has Cerezo and Gil Marín: a president and director general (and majority shareholder) who are destroying what should be a brilliant institution – boasting some of the noisiest and most faithful fans in Spain – but is instead among the worst in Spain.

Atlético are a complete shambles; in debt and embargoed, torn apart by petty battles between the two men who should be running the place but are forever seeking to get one over on each other and what they can out of the club. The son of Jesús Gil and his former right-hand man. The same men who complete signings independently of each other, argue over whose turn it is to choose a coach and told players that they would rid them of Javier Aguirre at the end of the season and then wondered why, his authority on the floor, results collapsed. The same men who have already told their players that Resino won’t be there next year. Some things never change. And, however hard Resino is, for as long as Atlético Madrid remain in the same hands maybe some things never will.

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The Euro 2008 team bus slogans!

Posted by steigs on May 22, 2008

They ran a contest for fans of the various teams at EURO 2008 to pick a slogan to paint on their team’s bus, in their native language and in English.  (Something similar happened at the 2006 World Cup.)  The results are here.  And the buses themselves, in full team color glory, are here.  (Lot of red and white teams at the tourney, it appears.)

Some slogans are pretty obvious.  The Swiss went with: Final destination: Vienna.  (That’s where the championship game will be held.)  The Germans have: Germany – one team – one purpose.

Others seem more revealing.  The French appear interested in making friends: Live together, celebrate together.  Same with the Poles: …because only sport and good fun matter.  Turkey plays the passion card: Can this bus contain the passion of Turkey?

The Italians sound a bit surreal to me:  The sky is always bluer.

But my favorite is the slogan for Spain.  It’s tinged with resignation — unlike ESPN’s ad campaign, they expect their team to disappoint them:  Whatever happens, SPAIN FOREVER.  Now that’s true fandom — whatever happens, we’re for our team. 

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Overkill, but that’s a good thing!

Posted by steigs on March 6, 2008

The US starts World Cup qualifying in June with a two-leg preliminary series against either Barbados (ranked #133) or Dominica (ranked #182).  Should be a formality before the semi-final round of regional qualifying later in the year. 

Still, we need to make sure our team is sharp and has some practice in advance of those games, given the tremendous costs of a hiccup in qualifying.  So the Federation is scheduling some friendlies to get the team warmed up.  What teams will we play?  It’s looking like:

England at Wembley on May 28th.  At Spain on June 4th.  And Argentina on June 8th, perhaps at the Meadowlands.  That would be three of the top 11 teams in FIFA’s rankings (such as they are).  That’s a string of three games — two on the road — with maybe one-third of the countries that can claim with a straight face to be contenders to win the World Cup.  Yeah, I know England just choked out of Euro 2008 qualifying and Spain routinely blows it once it makes it to an international tourney.  Still, that’s a murderer’s row of games.  That should quiet the bigsoccer types who complained about our weak friendlies in advance of the ’06 Cup, much as I enjoyed a second opportunity to see Latvia play in person.

Yeah, our team might be ready to play mighty Barbados after that trio of games.  If they survive.  I can’t imagine what the Federation will schedule as a warm-up for the final round of qualifying next year.  Maybe Brazil and road games in Italy, Germany, Holland AND an African tour to play Ivory Coast and Ghana?  Yowza.

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Barca: More than a club

Posted by steigs on December 20, 2007

This Sunday is one of the great matches in the five billion person party — Real Madrid vs. Barcelona.  I see even Time magazine has noticed.  It’s one of those great rivalries where everyone should pick a side.  Me?  I’m like Franklin Foer and side with Barcelona, one of the great romantic teams in the world.  Style, glamor, and a history of being repressed.  Oh, and a history of great Dutch and Brazilian players too…

Want to hear about how I got on the field at the Nou Camp and stayed in an Orwellian hotel?  Read on!

Read the rest of this entry »

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