“For the first time, I don’t have a good feeling about this knockout stage. I don’t like what I see. I think we’re more out than in.”
Thus spake Pep Guardiola. FC Barcelona Coach and Chief of Personnel in charge of filling Barca fans with a kind of unnamed dread. We’re not asking for sunny optimism, mind you. No calls for Pep to say “Shakhtar? Meh. We’re thinking of the Semis” because that kind of thing is bound to come around to bite you in the back, especially with such a good team as Shakhtar Donetsk. But a little bit of encouragement wouldn’t be misplaced for a man leading arguably one of the greatest teams to have ever kicked a football. Perhaps “Shakhtar is a great team, but we aren’t too shabby ourselves”? Or is that asking for too much? Now we are reduced to even more of a quivering, nail-biting and panicking mess than we were yesterday after reading Cruyff’s column, and that’s saying something. At least the FC Barcelona official twitter feed does its best to cheer us poor fans up, by thanking Justin Bieber for making FC Barcelona a global phenomenon with the simple act of wearing a Barca shirt, I kid you not. Next Real Madrid will be thanking Paris Hilton for making Cristiano Ronaldo famous in the US.
Meanwhile, someone should restrain Julio Grondona (AFA President) when they still have a chance. The man has gone about like an ass and invited Spain to participate in Copa America, and what’s worse, Spain is actually considering it. Somehow the idea of all Barca players (ESP, ARG and BRA) toiling away during the smallish summer break trying to win the Copa doesn’t fill us with joy. And we’re sure Leo Messi doesn’t appreciate all the added competition in his attempt to win anything resembling a shiny pot for Argentina. Why not just invite England, Italy, France and Germany as well and make it a nice World Cup while we’re at it? And we should invite Argentina and Brazil for the Euros so everyone can keep playing football all through the year and burn out a couple of years down the line. Yes that will be jolly.
In other news, poor Leo Messi is suffering from an apparent scarcity of time. “It’s been a while” since he has played on PlayStation, he “doesn’t have time to read books” though he “enjoys it” and he follows social media like twitter and facebook, but has “no time to participate in it” himself. It does make you wonder, with Cesc Fabregas tweeting “Just woke up from a long nap, what movies would you recommend?”, just what is Leo so busy doing? We hope whatever it is, recovering from his muscle niggle is a large part of it. All this talk of Leo apparently saying “so-so” when asked how he felt physically and Pep Guardiola’s “not afford to lose him” would make us more nervous if that’s possible, thankfully it’s not. We’ll keep you posted. Congrats to Andres Iniesta on becomming a father. And it’s absolutely great to see Abidal in training attire once again, though he’s not there yet (hopefully it’s just a matter of time). Till the CL quarters against Shakhtar tomorrow then. Visca Barca! And may the Football Gods make Messi fit and available for the game, and send some positive thoughts to Pep Guardiola. Amen.