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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Messi: not made like you or I

Arsenal sit second in the English Premier League, and are by anybody's measure more than a decent team.  But when you go into Barcelona and 110,000 fans are waiting and the host team is on its game, you get what happened yesterday: a 3-1 whitewash that saw the hosts win the possession battle 74%-26%,  fired 20 shots to Arsenal's zero (yes, "0"), and completed 717 passes to Arsenal's 195 for the game.  Domination.  Lionel Messi scored a pair, and the first it looked like he made the ball levitate in the air before stabbing it home.  Incredible stuff from Barca.  If you don't appreciate what they do, you don't appreciate sports.  You could argue that Robin Van Persie's red card with the score just turned 1-1 was a game changer, and it was as weak as it gets, but that's the position you put yourself in when you take a ridiculously selfish card late in the first half the way he did, but it really only expedited the inevitable final result. RVP was not impressed, not surprisingly.  In the other game, AS Roma barely showed up in their 3-0 loss at Shaktar Donetsk, who advance to the quarters for the first time.  Up today, AC Milan visits Tottenham, and I'm banging the hosts at Pinnacle even though they don't necessarily have to win to advance.  FC Shalke hosts Valencia in the other game, slight lean to the home side.  Both games kick off at 2:45pm.

Bruce Arthur at The National Post looks at the winds of change that have hit Mike Milbury with regard to fighting in the NHLTie Domi isn't willing to talk about his thoughts on fighting.  This came after he was spoon fed apple sauce and had his drool wiped up.  Only some of that is true.

The San Antonio Spurs have won 60+ games in the NBA season again, their - wait for it - 12th straight year knocking out 60+.

The Miami Heat lost again last night, which can only mean that quoting one LeBron James from Twitter back in December is more and more prophetic as it turns out and maybe not the dig at the Cleveland Cavaliers it was first thought to be, from @KingJames: "Crazy. Karma is a bitch.  Gets you every time. Not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!"  Perhaps somewhat inspired by "" that gained traction in December comes "".

The NHL's best second half win percentage in history was registered by the 1979-1980 Montreal Canadiens who were on a .813 clip that year. That makes this year's New Jersey Devils .875 rip this year all the more impressive.

ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd has his annual "March Madness" of his own up, and this year's subject is for Best Rock BandGet your votes in here for the first round.  How the hell did Creed and Nickelback get in as a 16 seeds and the Foo Figthters aren't even in the tournament?  Criminal. Looks like Bob Marley & The Wailers vs. Beastie Boys is the tightest race so far.

I'm not saying for a fact the two are linked, but back in January, Montreal Canadien Max Pacioretty scored an OT goal to beat Boston, and Zdeno Chara was none too happy.

So last night, in the rematch, here's what happens to Max Pacioretty when he comes near Zdeno Chara.  He was stretchered off and taken to hospital. Said Chara post-game: "Unfortunate when I pushed him that he leaned and jumped a little into the glass extension," which brought this fantastic response from the National Post's Bruce Artur, fast becoming a fav of mine: "That's an effing joke.  Zdeno, that's like effing saying that [the late Georgian luger] Nodar Kumnaritashvili leaned into the goddamn stanchion at Whistler. Jesus Christ."  Seems hard to believe Chara would be completely oblivious to where he was heading, no?


gary said...

I haven't been following the game as long as you and others, but if there's been a better player than Messi...I need to see the VHS tapes. Barca, as a whole, has been a real treat to watch.

Point on @ RVP!! Don't take the 1st, if you don't want to risk the 2nd.

TB said...

There haven't been too many better really, let's put it that way. Maradona in his day was the best I saw, but didn't get to see him the way you do today, you know? Coverage is way better across the board. Zidane was something else too. Mattheus, Gullit, Van is a short list in any case.

Antics aside, I'd put Ronaldo up there too, he does things that nobody else can do for his position - in the air he's as good as the best of central defenders, strong as hell, and a killer shot to boot and can do so much at a speed not many have without a ball, nevermind with.

Those two are really putting up some insane performances in Spain (think I read Ronaldo is at 37 on the year? Insane). Funny though that Real has a bunch of guys I can't stand, while there's not a single guy that I don't love on Barca (now that they got rid of Deco). Maybe part of that is having been to Camp Nou, maybe not.

gbvh said...

Messi is magic.
If I have a complaint, it's that he should and could pass more when in those congested areas.

When you have a team as stacked as Barcelona (and Argentina) is/are, dishing it off should be higher on the priority ladder when five defenders are lined up trying to get the ball or take you down.

TB said...

I'm from the less-is-more school with those guys too - if you pass even 10% more, the defense has to spread to respect that. But guess that's what makes guys like that great is they actually get through sometimes and tear the other teams soul out.