Sunday, January 19, 2003

FC Barcelona just got creamed in its home stadium, 2-4, by defending League champions Valencia. You read it here first, just half an hour after the tragedy was consummated and the fat lady sang. Barça came out hesitant and intimidated and immediately made a horrific defensive blunder which Pablo Aimar capitalized on. 0-1. Valencia continued on the attack and quickly made it 0-2 on a corner headed in by Carew. Barcelona tried to put up a fight and Xavi made a good through-pass to Motta who faked out a defender and put it in the net. 1-2, and Barcelona was still showing signs of trying to win at this point. They had a couple of chances at goals, though so did Valencia, and throughout the game Valencia played much more as a team than Barça did. Late in the first half there was another through-ball to Kluivert and Valencia's goalie Santi Cañizares tackled him outside the penalty area. Cañizares was, of course, red-carded and replaced by Palop; Valencia pulled Baraja out of the game and was left with only ten men.

Barça came out for the second half throwing everything they had at the Valencia goal, but couldn't make it through an iron Valencia defense. Valencia played with two defensive lines of four men each and Carew up front looking for the fast break, and the break came after thirty minutes of failed Barça attacks; Fabio Aurelio scored to make it 1-3 and the game was over. Barcelona gave up. Valencia would go on to score once more, and Kluivert scored a meaningless goal with two minutes to play while Valencia's players just stood around.

SSSSLLLUUUUURRRRRPPPPP. They sucked. The players sucked. The coaches sucked. The team sucked. Van Gaal, the coach, will almost certainly be fired now. If he's not, I want to know why. Gaspart, the club president, should resign. He's lost all credibility. There were enormous quantities of booing and whistling (a major insult in Spain except at rock concerts, where they've learned that whistling means you love the band and are probably holding up a cigarette lighter) and waving good-bye with handkerchiefs, what they call a pañolada. This is also a sign of major disapproval. FC Barcelona is having its worst season in its history. They'll be lucky to qualify for the UEFA Cup, much less the Champions' League. Barça is now 6-5-7, won-tied-lost, under .500 at midseason.

And they got rid of Rivaldo to save $6 million after signing Geovanni, Rochemback, and Overmars for more than $20 million each.

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