Barcelona/Manchester United Passing Graph

Now here’s something interesting to look at. It’s a passing and touches graph for the Barcelona/Manchester United game on Saturday.

If you’re curious to what this is… The bigger the circle, the more times the individual touched the ball. The bigger the arrow, the more passes made from the origin of the arrow to the direction of the arrow. Note that the two people that touched the ball the most in the game are Iniesta and Xavi and the passing circle between Xavi, Iniesta and Messi.

As for the most passes made by Manchester United, it’s a close call between Van Der Sar and Rooney (long balls anyone?) and Rio Ferdinand and Vidic. Little passing made between the Man United midfielders, which shows the dominance of Barcelona pressing plus their midfield dominance.

Understanding Tiki-Taka… Barcelona’s Game

Taking a break from studying and figuring out applications needed for my group’s project for class, I started watching some of the highlights from the UCL championship game between FC Barcelona and Manchester United from Saturday afternoon. After watching the game on Saturday, I was kinda disappointed that Man United got beat handily by the team from Spain. Granted, I’m an Arsenal fan and definitely no Man United fan, I figured they would have prepared a bit better for the match when in fact they didn’t. The point of this article though isn’t to criticize Man United’s approach because they had to go about their own way to try to beat Barca.

The point of this article is understanding Barcelona’s approach to the game. What people don’t realize is that this team is, for the most part, the polar opposite of what most teams are these days. Most of their team is quite small. They’re also not the fastest team, nor the most physical team out there either. Yet, they manage to win games with such ease that it’s quite unbelievable. Sure, you can account skill for some of it, but when you watch their game, it doesn’t have the kind of explosive appeal that other teams might have, like say Real Madrid, Arsenal, or Manchester United. They don’t counterattack other teams nor do they regularly take powerful shots outside of the 18 (though Saturday’s game was definitely a change of pace with two goals scored from outside of the box from both Messi and Villa).

In order to understand Barca’s game, you have to understand Tiki-Taka. Tiki-Taka is the game in which you try to promote the short passing game, possession and patience. It’s not about getting goals quickly. It’s about controlling the pace of the game to your own pace. By controlling the possession, you not only enable the opportunities that you get to score goals, but also create few chances for your opponents to score, as well as tire them out from having to chase after you. The emphasis here is on the short passing. Rarely do you see a ball go across the field in the air in an attacking position such that they head the ball in. It’s just to create space and maintain control. Continue reading Understanding Tiki-Taka… Barcelona’s Game

Arsenal’s Woes

As I was working on my second step for my sociolinguistics paper about UK English, I thought I would take a break and write about something else that’s along the lines of the U.K.: Arsenal. If you’re an Arsenal fan, you probably know the ups and downs that comes with being one. This season was definitely one of the more unusual seasons though in that we actually were in it for all four competitions that we were eligible for: League Cup, FA Cup, Premier League, and UEFA Champions League. Yet in a matter of weeks, it’s pretty promising that we’ll go away without silverware yet again. So what went wrong this season? A few things come to mind: Continue reading Arsenal’s Woes

Playing Against an Old Team

So I’ve played in the city soccer recreational leagues for about four years now. And in those four years, I’ve played against two of my old teams. It’s been pretty mixed in terms of experiences.

When I first started playing in the leagues, I had joined up with one team as a keeper with a few friends. However, we eventually left to start our own team since we’d be interested in doing so for quite a while. That summer we jumped up divisions after dominating in our first season and I played that old team. I made a number of friends on that team, so despite the competitiveness and ferocity during the games, it was relatively friendly (minus the drama in one game after I kicked off a player from the team and them joining that old team). It was overall fun during that rivalry. Heck, even some of them are on the current team today. Continue reading Playing Against an Old Team

Fantasy Sports

Fantasy spots. Oh boy. One moment, you love it. The next moment, you hate it.

So if you have no idea what I’m talking about… The whole idea of fantasy sports is that you’re the owner of a team of a specific sport, whether it be basketball, soccer, football, baseball, or whatever else there is out there. Before a season starts (or very early in the season), you select players to “play” for your team. Over the course of the season, they accumulate stats for your team. Depending on the format, you may face off against other teams and the team with the most points or most categories won, wins that week. Or you could try to accumulate the most stats over the course of the entire season and try to finish as high as possible. Millions and millions of people all over the U.S. and the world participate in some sort of fantasy sports. Some do it for money, others do it for pride.

When I see myself playing it, I think “Geez, this is such a roller coaster ride… Ugh.”

Continue reading Fantasy Sports

Crazy (Canadian) Football Finish

So I saw this on, where they also forwarded a link to Yahoo! Sports. It was a game between Toronto and Montreal where the game was tied 30-30. Now be aware that there’s a few different rules for Canadian football. For example, you can score a single point (called a rouge) if the ball flies past the backline or sideline of  the endzone. Also, you can kick the ball as well to clear it (or to attempt to score a rouge). Anyway, here’s the video of Montreal attempting to score the game winning field goal but… Well, you can watch it for yourself.


All I have to say is that Canadian football is really weird…

The LeBron Debacle

If you haven’t heard, LeBron James is no longer a Cavalier. He jumped ship and went to South Beach to be on the Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, forming the new “Big Three”.  But  this Big Three wasn’t formed in the same way that the former Big Three was by the Celtics (Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen). No trades were made. No huge sacrifices made by the Heat, aside from being well over the salary cap. They just got commitments from LBJ and Bosh via free agency.

So who came out winning and who came out losing? Continue reading The LeBron Debacle

The Harsh Reality of the World Cup

World Cup is something I look forward to whenever it comes around. But at the same time, I hate it too. It’s by far one of the most heartbreaking events out there. I came into the tournament rooting for the French (who was one of the most underachieving teams of the finals), the U.S. (one of the most overachieving teams thus far), and the Spanish (who are just fun to watch). But more on this later… But just how hard is it to watch these games? And how hard is it to really win the World Cup?

Continue reading The Harsh Reality of the World Cup