El Clasico

Barcelona thumped Real Madrid in Monday’s Clasico by a result of 5-0 with a brace from David Villa and further goals from Xavi, Pedro and Jeffren.

Barca were absolutely superior for the entirety of the match. Stringing together beautiful passes, finding acres of space and providing the perfect ball, and performed more than their share of flicks, back heels and tricks. But perhaps more interesting was how abysmal Real played.

This season’s Clasico carried more weight than those in recent memory. In 2009/10, Real missed out on the title by a mere three points after one of the most impressive seasons in the history of La Liga. However, they lost this very fixture last term and those three points were the difference between an empty-handed Real and title-winning Barca.

And with the arrival of Jose Mourinho to Real, it appeared as though Los Blancos were ready to have a go at winning their first derby in five tries. That wasn’t to be.

There wasn’t a single Real player who appeared up for the match. Sergio Ramos and Marcelo continually gave possession away in their own third, Pepe was turned inside-out with regularity, and Ricardo Carvalho was lucky to remain in the match after many close calls that could have warranted cautions.

Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso didn’t seem to be anywhere. Neither of the two provided the deep passes expected of them, nor did they provide adequate cover for the back four. It was literally as though they weren’t in the game. They weren’t anywhere. They couldn’t aid in picking up the runs of Leo Messi or Pedro, nor could they distribute. This is not exaggeration, it was as if they weren’t there. Count their positive contributions. I mean real, positive contributions, not just completed passes. I’ll bet there are fewer than five between them.

The attack would have been just as invisible if it weren’t for those glowing Nike Mercurial Superfly II Safari CR7s of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo struggled to get going, and never posed any real threat in open play. Two free kicks from dangerous areas missed the target, even if they did have Victor Valdez sweating. Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil, and Karim Benzema all contributed equal parts in the sense that because of the names on the backs of their shirts, you would think they might be able to create something, anything for themselves or Ronaldo. Wasn’t to be. Lassana Diarra was inserted at half for Ozil and the hard-tackling Frenchman was more productive going forward than the German visionary.

Mourinho has said all along that Real is a work in progress. That’s certainly true, but his teams have never been beaten by more than three goals, much less five. And this is arguably the most talented squad Mourinho has ever had to work with. And this was the one game Real couldn’t afford to get thumped.

Things need to move forward at the Bernabeu at a quicker rate or else the Galacticos 2.1 experiment is going to be an awfully expensive and embarrassing mess. For Real and Mourinho.

And Barca? Carry on, lads.

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Ancelotti’s overhaul why Chelsea struggling

Chelsea are in the midst of a dismal run of form in the Premier League. Just one win and one goal in their past four matches.

This was a side only beaten once previously in the Premier League and was scoring for fun. So what’s changed?

Chelsea is a relatively old and injury-prone side. Of Chelsea’s preferred starting outfield players, four are past 30 and it will be six in December. Loking past the age, the squad’s depth has a history of injuries in Michael Essien, Jose Bosingwa and Yuri Zhirkov.

Add those factors up and you have a championship-calibre side short on available players. Making matters worse is manager Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to allow Ricardo Carvalho, Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and Deco all to move on this summer. It wasn’t a terrible move at the time as Chelsea, for the first time since coming into money, have a wealth of young players waiting to step into the first team.

Patrick van Aanholt, 20, looks to be ready to step into Ashley Cole’s boots if he decided to retire right now. Gael Kakuta, 19, is the wunderkind Chelsea nearly received an 18 month transfer ban over when he swapped Lens for west London and has looked capable of filling in on the wings or behind Drogba. And Josh McEachran, 17, is the new Jack Wilshire (that would be the next savior of England for those of you unfamiliar).

It seemed a good play, after all, it’s not like all three would be required to play for considerable amounts of time simultaneously, right? That’s been the problem for Ancelotti and Chelsea.

Essien has been injured and suspended, Frank Lampard is still injured, Yossi Benayoun could be lost for the season, Didier Drogba has been suspended, Bosingwa is just returning to match fitness after year on the treatment table, Zhirkov hasn’t been 100 percent healthy since he arrived at Chelsea in 2009, John Terry may well resume to action in weeks and not months after his leg/back injury, and Alex’s knee problem is still an unknown.

Ancelotti said Friday, “It is not the time now to speak about the missing players. We have to stay in focus with our players, they have good ability and did good performances before this moment, so we have to stay focused on these players.” That’s very positive and good management and all that, but it can’t be ignored that his side is hurting and his lack of depth is showing.

Commend the man for infusing Chelsea with a bit of youth, the club’s players were beginning to look like what the club is synonymous with. Pensioners.

But one can’t help but wonder if Ancelotti’s youth movement couldn’t have been implemented at touch slower rate and retaining some of that experience allowed to walk out the door for a combined £7 million. A bad bit of business, but will Chelsea pay the price?

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The dawn of another new era in MotoGP: The debut of Suter Moto1

Perhaps MotoGP isn’t on its deathbed after all. Eskil Suter’s ‘Moto1’ creation debuted Thursday in Jerez and wasn’t miles off the pace. Perhaps this doesn’t make sense to some of you. Brief history lesson.

MotoGP switched to prototype 990cc four-strokes in 2002 after decades of 500cc two-stroke racing. After the death of Dajiro Kato, it was determined that the 990cc machines were too fast and the capacity would be reduced to 800cc for 2007. Costs rose exponentially and grids shrank drastically, often times not fielding enough riders on the starting grid to classify the race as a world championship. Oh, and the bikes didn’t get any safer.

So for 2012, the rules will change again. MotoGP will allow motorcycles up to 1,000cc and for the first time in modern history, will allow production based engines into the class. The goal of the latter was to cut costs for private teams to participate. Apparently it was embarrassing for MotoGP to see Formula 1 field 24 cars on the grid with teams spending £400 million a season while it could only manage 17 at a fraction of the cost.

And thus, we come to the Suter Moto1 project. Suter has been around MotoGP in the past half-dozen years, instrumental in the development of the now defunct Kawasaki and Ilmor projects. Suter set his sights on the all new Moto2 class for 2010, custom chassis fitted with engines provided by the series, essentially. There were a dozen other chassis manufacturers on the grid, but Suter’s was the one to have.

With that in mind, the move to the premier class was the only logical step from there. With the outstanding performance of BMW’s S1000RR engine and the new rules in MotoGP legalizing that engine, it was a match made in heaven.

So it made its debut today and was some three seconds adrift of Karel Abraham’s Ducati and five seconds off the lap record. Not terribly impressive, but considering the freshness of the project and the considerable development that the chassis and BMW powerplant will undergo in the next year, it’s actually not that bad. Really.

But for somewhere between half and two-thirds the cost (depending on who you believe) of leasing a full-on prototype machine from Honda, Ducati or Yamaha, the future actually looks pretty bright for Suter and MotoGP on the whole.

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England misses the mark in World Cup bid

So the vice-president of England’s FIFA World Cup 2018 bid said today that England have a better bid than competing bids from Russia and the joint bids from Spain and Portugal and Holland and Belgium.

Without doubt, England has been the favorite for logistical reasons and the numerous stadiums in place with more on the way for the 2012 Olympics in London. Gordon Taylor, the VP, also said that England’s football heritage is another trump card. Meh, does that really matter anymore? Three of the past five World Cups have been held in developing football nations. So, short answer, no.

Then Taylor said something really interesting, “Politics could scupper England’s bid, but it shouldn’t be allowed to as politics should not dictate to sport, and when you look at the bid process, it shouldn’t have an effect. Instead, look at the bids – that’s the idea of it, and our bid is the best.”

This statement comes after speculation that recent probes into the bid process by The Sunday Times, exposing some FIFA representatives selling their votes, has hurt England’s chances. Why? Because English news publications are out to sabotage other bids in the name of England, according to some.

Heaven forbid somebody shed a little light on the goings-on within FIFA. But therein lies the problem and what makes Taylor’s statements so comical.

There are representatives out there with World Cup votes for sale, or at least it appeared that way based on the evidence if you want to get technical about it and avoid libel lawsuits (like I do). I would think the last thing FIFA want at their crown jewel of 2018 is reporters snooping around, trying to dig up a story. It would be much more convenient to have a host overjoyed to be able to host such an event and cater to FIFA’s every request. Some place like Russia, or Qatar (in 2022).

So if England don’t get the bid for 2018, it won’t be because there is a better bid out there, Mr. Taylor. It will be because FIFA don’t like looking foolish and the English press has no qualms about making anyone look foolish. That and The FA won’t stump up £500,000 per vote.

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Welcome to ‘What’s It All About, Man?’

Welcome to the blog, boys and girls. Not sure if you’ve actively sought out this place or stumbled onto it by mistake, but regardless, welcome and thank you for joining me. I’m your host (until further notice), Austin.

I don’t know exactly what this blog is going to be yet. It’s been pretty well beaten into my head here at City that unless you can offer real news or you’re already famous, no one cares what you have to say. This is the internet after all, there are thousands of people being paid to write out there who are largely ignored by this massive contraption we live in.

That being said, I will probably be using this as a platform for my relatively random writing. I’d imagine you can expect lots of posts about football (the European brand), baseball, hockey, MotoGP, Formula 1, music, movies, Minnesota, London, pop culture and whatever irks me or tickles my fancy on any given day. In essence, this will be my life.

As it’s about life, what’s it all about, man?

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