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|Re: I Pray Nigeria A.k.a The Zoo Loses Today's Match by pazienza(m): 11:29pm On Sep 01, 2017|
But whatever the political persuasion of the region's football fans, a united Spain is obviously far stronger on the field than a divided one. Perhaps that is why the general feeling of goodwill carried on into yesterday as Catalans woke up to the prospect of a World Cup final. With unemployment rising and public spending falling, both at rates faster than anywhere else in Europe apart from Greece, there is little to shout about – so little wonder political nuances were forgotten as plans were made to spend Sunday on the beach and Sunday night in front of the television.
And if any Catalans were having trouble finding cause to celebrate, then the city's morning sports papers were reminding everyone that the victory had been as much for FC Barcelona as for Spain – not only had the region's flagship team provided the bulk of the starters, but the Spain coach, Vicente del Bosque, employed tactics that could have been lifted straight from the Barça coach Pep Guardiola's training manual.
"Spain's most red-and-blue team ever beats the all-powerful Germany" was the view of the football daily Sport – with the reference being to Barcelona's colours and not to the national team's.
More than 86 per cent of FC Barcelona's 173,701 members are Catalans. For them, Barça capturing the Champions League feels like winning the World Cup – and on Sunday they could have the best of both worlds with a team full of Barcelona players making Spain, and all its parts, world champions.
|Re: I Pray Nigeria A.k.a The Zoo Loses Today's Match by pazienza(m): 11:33pm On Sep 01, 2017|
As Spain Begins Its World Cup Quest, a Team United Has Fans Divided
Forty-five million Spaniards drew a collective breath at the news on May 2 that Xavi, the playmaking genius of FC Barcelona, was carrying an injury that might prevent him from playing in South Africa this summer for Spain's national team. His club coach said Xavi, 30, had a 3-cm rip just above his left calf muscle; if aggravated, the tear would require surgery, ruling him out of the World Cup. But with the Spanish league in its final stretch and Barça needing victories to stay ahead of archrival Real Madrid, Xavi opted to keep playing. "He is committed to this club," coach Pep Guardiola said at a press conference. "He is an example for everyone."
Not everyone was pleased by Xavi's devotion to his club. "I thought to myself, We don't need him to be an example. We just need him to be fit for South Africa," says Sergio Soto, a pharmacist's assistant in Madrid. "Because without Xavi, our World Cup dream is finished."
Xavi is from Catalonia, the northeastern province washed by the Mediterranean that historically has had an uneasy relationship with the rest of Spain. Many Catalans see themselves as a separate nation and dream of independence. They speak their own language, Catalan, which sounds to the untrained ear like an admixture of Spanish, French and Portuguese. And like their Basque neighbors, they have a culture and history that have been often at odds with those of other regions of Spain. During the Franco dictatorship, authorities in Madrid sought to stamp out the Catalan identity, often by bloody force. The dictator favored Real Madrid, sowing the seeds for one of soccer's most bitter rivalries.
In turn, many Spaniards have long regarded Catalans with distrust. In soccer, that translates into a frostiness toward Catalan players, a suspicion that they don't play for the national colors with the same enthusiasm as they do for FC Barcelona, a club so closely linked to the Catalan identity that its crest includes the Catalan flag. Barça's slogan, "Més que un club" (More than a club), hints at its political role. Some Spaniards blame generations of Catalan players for the fact that the national team has never won the World Cup despite fielding world-beating talent every four years. During the 2006 Cup, Spain flamed out to France even before the quarterfinals.
But Xavi and company can't expect all their fellow Catalans to see it that way. For some Barça fans, the only "national" team is a collection of Catalan all-stars that plays occasional exhibition games in the region's colors. "One day we will send a Catalan team to the World Cup," says Xavier, a university student who refused to give his last name. "Until that day, that tournament means nothing to me."
That sentiment is shared by the club's top official. Joan Laporta's highly successful seven-year presidency at Barça ends this month. He and Ingla have done more to turn the club into an international soccer powerhouse, with an annual budget in excess of $500 million and hundreds of millions of fans around the globe. "Barça belongs to the world," says Laporta. "Barça is Japanese, it's African, it's American." But is it Spanish? Laporta pauses for thought, then shrugs. "I have no emotion for the [Spanish] national team," he says. "It doesn't matter if six of my players are in it." Some divides not even soccer can bridge.
|Re: I Pray Nigeria A.k.a The Zoo Loses Today's Match by EponOjuku: 11:42pm On Sep 01, 2017|
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|Re: I Pray Nigeria A.k.a The Zoo Loses Today's Match by RoyalUc(m): 11:59pm On Sep 01, 2017|
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|Re: I Pray Nigeria A.k.a The Zoo Loses Today's Match by malawi101(m): 9:15am On Sep 02, 2017|
Your prayers didn't work. God pass u
|Re: I Pray Nigeria A.k.a The Zoo Loses Today's Match by BlackMbakara1(m): 9:28am On Sep 02, 2017|
If God be for us (Nigeria), who can be against us?
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