America 0 x 4 Barça

Experts say it was like an earthquake of the magnitude of 10. FC Barcelona (Barça) is in Japan playing the world tournament (el mundialito as they call it here in Spain) and despite claiming they were still tired from jetlag and couldn’t promise anything, they massacred their rival, Club America (Mexico), with four beautiful goals. Ronaldinho was phenomenal once again and confirms the amazing phase; I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets chosen best player of the year again.

Here are some of the goals, by Gudjohnsen, Ronaldinho & Deco:

They play the final on sunday with a team from Brazil, the Internacional de Porto Alegre. As my brother says, to win that one Inter will have to play everything they know and hope that Barça doesn’t do the same ;)


Barça 2 x 0 Werder Bremmen

Ronaldinho is a genius!

Barça had a very important match last tuesday. They had to beat Werder Bremmen, one of the leading teams at the German championship, to be able to advance in the Champion’s League. They either advanced or they became the first European champeon to not pass the round of 32 in the following year’s championship. So, the pressure was on. And Ronaldinho delivered. The match was decided in the first 20 minutes when he scored the first goal, gave the pass to the second, and even managed to make a pass with the back of his head.

The first goal was a work of genius. Ronaldinho suffered a foul play near the goal area and was given a free kick. Those of you who have watched the guy play know that he is pretty good at the free kick, making the ball curve in totally unexpected ways. He usually makes it go high and around to the top corner of the goal. This time, however, he was facing the very tall German players and was too close to them to get the ball over them properly. So what did he do? He hesitated for one minute before kicking, the men in the barrier jumped, and he kicked underneath them. When I told my dad how he scored, his reaction was “he missed it then”. I said “what do you mean??” He said, “he missed; nobody kicks underneath the barrier”. Hehehe, Ronaldinho did. And here is what Edhur Gudjohnsen had to say afterwards:

“It is fantastic how clever the guy is,” Gudjohnsen said of Ronaldinho. “He seems ready for every situation and the bigger the game, the more he can handle it. He saw that they were going to jump. What he said in the dressing room afterwards was the two really big guys in the wall wouldn’t jump so he put it under the smaller ones. He’s a great player and I guess that makes him psychic. When you play with him and see what he does with a ball, nothing surprises me any more. One of these days, he will make the ball talk.”

And here is that famous goal:

Barcelona 4 x 0 Bayern Munchen

Tuesday night we went to the mythical Camp Nou stadium to watch FC Barcelona play the current German champion Bayern Munchen for the Gamper Trophy. You can see some comments on the events of the night and the pictures we took in Alan’s blog. I’ll focus here on translating the comments I wrote in Portuguese at my brother’s blog:

I’ve been following Ronaldinho’s career since he arrived in Paris to play for Paris St Germain, a few years ago. It was a cold winter night and I was catching the metro in Paris – where I was accompanying Alan, who was attending a conference – when I saw him at the frontpage of a local newspaper. Living in Canada, I was a bit out of touch with what was going on in the football (soccer) world and wasn’t aware Ronaldinho had left Gremio, his home team in Brazil. And then we had the 2002 world cup, his fame reached new heights and he moved to FC Barcelona. Coincidently, I started studying Spanish history, particularly the Catalan part of the country. And my interest for Catalonia, football and Ronaldinho have merged into a passion for the local team, FC Barcelona – better known as Barça.

Barça reminds me a lot of Flamengo, my Brazilian team. It has a great history and very passionate supporters. The team proudly boasts homemade stars such as the capitain Puyol and the midfielder Xavi, as well as international players such as Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Deco and the recently-hired Gudjohnsen, Thuran & Zambrotta.

Yesterday was the final of the Gamper Trophy against Bayern Munchen, one of the very top European teams and current German champion. Since there were good prospects of a competitive game, tickets were cheaper than usual, and there would be a big party to celebrate the beginning of a new season, I decided to treat Alan to his first football game. As I said above, check his site for his impressions. The party was pretty cool, the environment very festive and full of families, and there were fireworks and light shows for the introduction of each of the players that form the 2006/07 team. Ronaldinho was the last one to be called into the field and the most applauded.

As for the game… Barça showed the kind of game I would like to see the Brazilian national team playing. Group spirit, almost perfect control of the ball, incredible passes, unrelenting pressure (I must say it annoys me to no end when Brazil and other good teams stop playing as soon as they have a favourable score), and a good defense. Bayern showed some battle spirit during the first 20 mins, but there was no way around it. It was a master class and Barcelona was giving it. Ronaldinho open the score board with a perfect free kick and Eto’o scored twice within the following 10 mins. The second half brought in an entire different team – literally, the coach replaced all 11 players to give a chance to the others and to preserve them for Friday’s game – showing that Barça has no B team. The team continued to pressure Bayern and Saviola scored another goal for Barça. Oliver Kahn – the famous German national team goalie – left the field looking pretty sad. And Barcelona showed that which we, Brazilians, respect in a football team: that one can win playing a beautiful and aggressive football.

Gol de Ronaldinho

Sunday they play Seville in Monaco for the Supercup. Visca Barça!!!!

Don’t cry…Argentina!!

Football (soccer for you guys in north america) fever continues at full swing and I have been following the matches with passion and interest. Everyday I discuss the previous match with the security guards and personnel at the archives. Now that Spain is out, they assure me they will root for Brazil.

I must be getting good at this because this morning I asked the security guard what he expected of the match between Argentina and Germany this afternoon. He said Argentina would win. I said, nah… it will be a tie and Germany will win on penalty kicks after an Argentinian side misses his kick. I’m never right at these things but lol and behold, that’s EXACTLY what happened!! Granted, the referee made some controversial decisions in favour of the German team but hey, who cares, Argentina is out. And if Brazil is to lose this cup, I’ll rather that it be against Germany.

Brazil 2 x 0 Australia

Brazil won and friendships survived. It was tense and I spent the match trying not to scream too loudly and at times hiding under my Brazilian flag. You can see pictures on Alan's blog soon.

From Brazil one expects not only a victory but a master class. The victory came out of a nice goal by Adriano (via Ronaldinho and Ronaldo) and Fred (via Robinho) and some nice attempts by Kaká. Yet, it was bittersweet for many Brazilians and the international press that keeps criticizing Ronaldo for being out of shape and the famous "magic square" for not performing to their full potention. In Spain the main criticism is the position given to Ronaldinho in the team – a bit further back than his usual position at Barcelona – which many here find unsuitable for his talent. But as the 1982 and 1994 world cups have taught us – what matter, in the end, is not how we play but the results we get. And so far we have delivered. 

Brazil x Australia

I've been enjoying following the world cup from Spain. At least here I don't have to explain to people what the world cup is and it isn't hard to find a bar in which to watch matches. Living in such a cosmopolitan city also means one can also find supporters of every team playing. So, today Alan and I are off to watch Brazil vs Australia with some Australian friends. Let's hope the friendship survives!!