yeah!

yeah!

it was back to business at the ciutat esportiva yesterday, as the first batch of players had a morning training session.  puyi, pique, and the rest of the catalan national team (except for captain valdes, who wasn’t called up because of plantar fasciitis) were there.  tito visited them after training for a little chat🙂

lots of flexing and posing, all in a day's work

lots of flexing and posing, all in a day’s work

HAPPY new year :)

HAPPY new year🙂

in the afternoon, tito joined the second batch of players, which included cesc and song, who are recovering well from their injuries.  our mister looks like he’s in high spirits, no?  hopefully his chemo and radiotherapy will be uneventful.  anims!!

***

catalunya_nigeria

catalunya 1 – 1 nigeria

thank you, bein sport, for al the long lingering shots of this catalan champion

thank you, bein sport, for al the long lingering shots of this catalan champion

my first taste of football for the year, and (of course) puyi had to make it memorable with blood and stitches.  bojan joined the barca boys and they all carpooled like schoolboys to the cornella-el prat.

the prodigal sun returns :)  (photo fr bojan's twitter)

the prodigal sun returns🙂 (photo fr bojan’s twitter)

thanks, boss! (puyi's signature is above cruyff's ear)

thanks, boss! (puyi’s signature is above cruyff’s ear)

before kickoff, there was a short tribute to the legendary johan cruyff, who signed off last night as coach of the national team.  the starting 11 included puyi, xavi, pique and marc bartra.  sergio gonzalez, who is the player with the most caps in the national team, had a short spell as team captain for 12 minutes (during which he also scored the side’s only goal) before passing the armband onto puyi.

all smiles on one end of the lineup...

all smiles on one end of the lineup…

... and super serious on the other

… and super serious on the other (the hideous kits are upsetting xavi)

it was very interesting to see our players and the espanyol boys playing together just a few days shy of the catalan derby.  i’ve always marvelled at how club rivalries are put aside when players are called to their national teams.  maybe one day i can root for spain again when i finally forgive the madrid boys for their shameful behavior two years ago… but it’s more likely that i won’t.

the rest of the fcb boys were eventually subbed in, probably because it’s a little cruel to let someone wear that uniform for 90 minutes🙂 puyi and pique kept things solid at the back, at least during the first half, while bojan had some fancy footwork to show up front.  i have to say, it looks like italy is doing him a lot of good.  and he was named MAN of the match… definitely not the little boy who left barcelona 2 years ago🙂

puyi takes the time to commend pique on his challenge, before yelling at everyone else to step up their game

puyi takes the time to commend pique on his challenge, before yelling at everyone else to step up their game

and then… shocker.  one minute, they’re showing a replay of puyi prancing around the pitch, and the next moment, he’s on the ground after being elbowed in the face.

that's xavi pulling puyi's hands off his face and inspecting the damage before calling the medics

that’s xavi pulling puyi’s hands off his face and inspecting the damage before calling the medics

there's blood streming down my face?? no biggie.

there’s blood streaming down my face?? no biggie.

thanks for giving me my first almost-heart-attack for the year, puyi.  he sustained a laceration near his brow and the corner of his left eye.  pique told the press that he had to get four stitches, but he’s doing fine.  i’m just thankful it didn’t hit his previous cheekbone fracture and split it open again.  when you have a warrior for a captain, you tend to be thankful for little mercies like that.

i can wash away my own blood, thank you

i can wash away my own blood, thank you

usually when puyi gets subbed out during a game (montoya replaced him), i tend to pay less attention to what happens in the remaining minutes.  this time, i was more focused, because busi was captain after halftime (YAY!!).  it’s a good thing i kept watching, because 15 minutes into the second half, they showed this —

a fine, fine specimen.

a fine, fine specimen.

thank you, universe.

***

a final farewell to 2012 — i must have posted this video twice or thrice already, but it is just too precious.  if you haven’t seen it, watch it now; it will give you all sorts of endorphins :)   i think puyi should have done the second set of pushups, poor pique!

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