10 things: Barcelona and Totti thrived while your mind was melted by the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes are horrible, but not any more horrible than every other awards show. Lest you think this is about Hollywood’s meaningless statues, know we feel the same about all contrived ceremonies that fabricate honors for subjective achievement. There’s no parking spot for Employee of the Month at SoccerGods central, and we’ve already decided to make fun of the Ballon d’Or.

But just in case you missed last night’s awards:

To be clear, we didn’t watch. Award shows are horrible. We’re just assuming this didn’t break the mold. Besides, we were too busy watching soccer, knowing that the red carpet before last night’s show would become a Men In Black pulse on your memory. Allow us to fill the void:


Barcelona in crisis

The transitive property of soccer is well-established science. When Club United beats AC Weak Knees 2-0 then falls to Superior Athletic 5-0, we establish an incontrovertible truth: Superior would beat Weak Knees by seven goals. Science.

Apply those principles to Barcelona, and you have to question the whole “club in crisis” narrative. Take yesterday’s win over Atlético, 3-1 at the Nou Camp. Atlético had defeated league-leading Real Madrid 1-0 mid-week. Granted, that result was in Copa del Rey action (where Cristiano Ronaldo sat out a half), but the transitive property is immutable. If Barcelona played Real Madrid today, it’d probably win 4-1. Science.

We can’t all be Stephen Hawking, but certain things make sense. When all of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar score, Barcelona’s probably going to win. And when Atlético has to face Barcelona in between Madrid derbies, it might be set up for a letdown.


England’s disappointing leaders

Chelsea reclaimed its place at the top of the Premier League, a result that didn’t look likely over its first 30 minutes on Sunday at Stamford Bridge. But with goals by Oscar and Diego Costa, the Blues claimed a 2-1 win over Newcastle, avenging its loss earlier this season at St. James’ Park.

The result also put pressure on Manchester City to take full points from Everton, but thanks to James Naismith, that didn’t happen. City’s 74th minute opener from Ferandinho was pulled back four minutes later by the Scottish international, allowing Everton to take a deserved point at Goodison Park. Toffees crisis? Temporarily averted.

Big picture, a draw at Goodison Park isn’t a poor result. But when you’re the defending champion, within reach of the top and leading with 13 minutes to go, it feels like a missed opportunity. With 17 games left, though, the slip is no big deal.


Louis van Gaal is also horrible

Manchester United fans are still recovering. Last season was traumatic. From constant title contenders to European afterthought, the Red Devils firebombed then reassembled their fans’ expectations. David Moyes was terrible, but his legacy remains potent.

After Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Southampton, though, Moyes’s name has resurfaced in a more positive light; as in, Moyes had 37 points after 21 matches, too. Never mind United’s actually in much better shape than last year. Moyes must have been sneaky good if his record was comparable to Louis van Gaal’s, right?

Actually, the intent’s the opposite. Moyes was bad; it’s been acknowledged. That United, by some standards, hasn’t out-performed last year’s team is actually an indictment of it’s new boss …

… the thinking goes. Southampton may also just be good. That alternative is worth considering, since the Saints are now in third place. I haven’t looked it up, but I’m assuming they don’t play United every week. And if United had a bad night against a team challenging for the Champions League, it might not be the best time to bring up the specter of Moyes.

number_4Tragedy in Germany

Junior Malanda gained his first international fame earlier this year when a missed an open goal at the Allianz Arena against Bayern Munich. While some gasped and moved on, others took the moment as a chance to gain context on a player who looked like a future cornerstone for Belgium. In first full year with Wolfsburg, the Lille product was already starting to steal first team minutes.

On Saturday, Malanda died in a car accident in northern Germany. On the same day he was due to join his teammates after winter break, the SUV he was traveling in was thrown from the road and hit a tree after being a high-speed collision. In the back seat at the time of the impact, Malanda is believed to have died immediately.

Wolfsburg fans spent Saturday remembering the fallen prospect, while players expressed their condolences across social media. Malanda was only 20 years old.


Totti outshines Felipe Anderson

Felipe Anderson is the best player in Italy right now. Find somebody who disagrees, and you’ve found somebody you can take money from. The Brazilian attacker has five goals and five assists in his last five games, with his recently cemented role in Lazio’s starting XI helping his team to third in Serie A.

Sunday’s Rome derby looked like it would be his most dominant performance yet. While pushing his team to a 2-0 halftime lead, the 21-year-old Santos product set up Stefano Mauri’s opener before adding a goal of his own, taking over the middle of the first half at the Stadio Olimpico.

After intermission, however, Francesco Totti took over. Exploiting the right side of Lazio’s defense, the derby’s all-time leading scorer twice burst onto crosses from Roma’s left, each time volleying home in front of the Curva Sud.

The second time, he stopped to preserve the moment:

Roma’s comeback held, allowing it to preserve a 2-2 draw with its rivals. With Juventus’s 3-1 win at Napoli, however, the Giallorossi lost ground at the top of the league. It’s now three points off the pace.


In support of Charlie Hebdo

The soccer world expressed grief and support after last week’s attacks in Paris with remembrances across Europe, from the league-wide observances in France to the moment of silence that was observed on Saturday at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu.

The most creative reminder may have come from Rome, though, where Roma coach Rudi Garcia greeted media attending a pre-match press conference with the gift of a pencil — the symbol of free speech that’s surfaced in the wake of the attacks.

The least welcome observance? That happened at Bastia, where attendees protesting alleged links between the Qatari government and terrorism used Saturday’s moment of silence to draw attention to their cause. Whether you agree with their politics or not, the protesters succeeded in showing an almost irrational level of disrespect to the victims and their families. Then again, if the world was rational, we wouldn’t be talking about Charlie Hebdo.


FYI: Asia is playing its confederation championship

The games air at 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. Eastern, so we’re not going to get on you for skipping this year’s Asian Cup. In fact, we’re hear to help:

Feel like an Asian soccer expert? Neither do we, but that isn’t stopping us from doing a daily Asian Cup update. The second round of group play starts tomorrow.


Liga MX is back, and the big clubs are playing their parts

Liga MX is back, was insane, and both of the league’s titans are playing their parts. Club América opened its title defense with a 3-2 win over new coach Gustavo Matosas’s former club, León. Meanwhile, persisting with its eternal mandate to be the anti-América, Chivas lost at Chiapas, a defeat that thrust it to the bottom of Mexico’s relegation table.

Veracruz and Atlas sprung upsets on the road, while Gustavo Alustiza scored twice for Puebla. But the big news of this tournament is going to be Chivas. Can the largest club in Mexico really pull a River Plate and get relegated? Perhaps a better question: What’s to stop it?



Transferring to MLS is now an illness

Jozy Altidore’s not sick, unless he’s sick of packing. He’s on his way to Major League Soccer, even if his exact destination is as yet unknown. So when Sunderland took the field on Saturday against Liverpool, the U.S. international was logically left out, even if illness was the reported culprit.

From Kevin Brown:

Sure, Major League Soccer is no Premier League (I prefer the former any day), but there’s no reason to treat it like some kind of disease, you know? So harsh. There are probably two guys in the Sunderland PR department joking:

PR1: “Yeah, Altidore’s out. Came down sick with ‘the MLS’: Mediocre League Syndrome, amirite, Bob?!”

PR2: “Aye, same thing that killed Gerrard and Lampard, mate!”

There were laughs, terrible high-fives. All very rude.


And this …

CONCACAF’s U-20 Championships. United States, 0. Panama 1.

It’s difficult to justify any broad conclusions about progress based on 90 minutes. It’s not difficult to be really, really worried about what’s going on.


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