Monday, September 24, 2007

Sports update: Right now, the lead story on Yahoo news is that Ronaldinho is in trouble for too much partying. That's interesting; I didn't know English-speakers, especially not Americans, were particularly interested in a Brazilian soccer star who plays in Spain. But the Sun is reporting that Chelsea is going to make an offer for him.

La Vanguardia has blasted him for being a lazy drunk, comparing him to Best and Gascoigne, and also comparing him unfavorably to Romario, who was always out all night at discos but who has also never been seen intoxicated, at least not in public.

Last season Ronaldinho was criticized for staying out late, though there were few specific accusations made then. He missed training a lot, and the excuse was that he was working out in the clubhouse. He also often looked tired during the games, though in his defense he was the only top Barça player who didn't miss serious time because of injuries, and he hadn't really had a summer vacation because he'd played the World Cup with Brazil. However, La Vanguardia accused him of breaking training and drinking, along with Ronaldo and Adriano, while he was with the Brazilian team.

Ronaldinho hasn't played a full game so far this season, and he missed yesterday's 2-1 victory over Sevilla because of an alleged injury suffered in practice. He wasn't in the stands at Saturday night's game, though other injured players like Puyol and Eto'o were there, sitting with the club president. Ronaldinho was supposedly watching inside the clubhouse. He's missed training the last couple of days, too, supposedly working out in the clubhouse; he's also going to miss the next match on Wednesday in Zaragoza. There was massive criticism when it was reported last week that he had stayed out all night partying two nights before the Osasuna game.

I would say that if such negative stuff is being published in the fanatically pro-Barça local press, and being reported on TV3, it means the club hierarchy has concluded that Ronaldinho is more trouble than he's worth and has about one more chance before being shipped out, especially since Giovani Dos Santos and Bojan Krcic have looked so good this season.

That would really be too bad. Ronaldinho has had a good year, two great years, and then a disappointing but still pretty good year while with the Barça. I'd hate to see him leave under a cloud, since he seems like a pretty decent guy who has fun on the pitch and has tremendous talent.

The Sevilla game was very good. Both teams were strong in the first half, Barcelona wore them down, Henry had a couple of good chances and played the whole match--he's just been unlucky, he's not washed up--, Messi scored a tremendous goal on a volley off a center by Henry, and Poulsen tackled Giovani in the area for a penalty which Messi converted. Then, in extra time, off a misplay by Oleguer, Kanouté broke through and lobbed Valdés for 2-1.

Messi is the Barça fans' new hero, and he certainly is a good player; I doubted him at first, and he's proven me wrong. But when Barcelona signed him up when he was a young kid, they got a doctor to diagnose him as undersized and to prescribe him human growth hormone. That's right, the club fed a teenager HGH.

Joan Golobart, the football commentator who seems to make the most sense, says that 1) Marquez and Milito, as center-backs, get the ball to the midfielders a lot quicker than Thuram and Oleguer do; 2) Messi and Iniesta are Barça's best players right now; 3) Deco's performance has been subpar but he's in good physical shape and sure plays hard; he also gets booked much too often; 4) Abidal is an excellent player, Zambrotta looks much better than he did last year, and Barça now has a very solid defensive back line; 5) Barcelona is a better team with Ronaldinho, but he is not irreplaceable.

They've made a big deal out of Norman Foster's design for a remodeled Camp Nou, and it's about time the stadium was refurbished. It's all concrete inside, and not too attractive from the outside. Inside it looks great, but the standard criticism is that too many seats are too far away from the pitch; the remodeling is supposed to move a lot of seats in much closer.

Foster's remodeling will cost at least €250 million, begin in 2009, and be completed in 2012. Supposedly, they'll be able to continue playing there while the construction is going on.

The remodeled Camp Nou is supposed to have a transparent outer skin that will be lit up, much like Foster's Agbar Tower, also known as the "giant suppository" or "giant dildo." Foster claims to have been inspired by Gaudí and his broken colored tiles. Here's the promotional video showing what the new stadium will look like. They could have done a much better job on the videoclip. Too much computer special effects crap. Keep it simple. Just because you can do something on the computer doesn't mean you should.

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