Despite my declaration that I would no longer be doing this sort of thing, it only took a week before I felt the need to share some of the most interesting (in my mind) links out there. This may become a weekly thing. We'll see.
The Tall and the Short of It
One of the things I love about soccer is that it is an equal opportunity sport. Soccer is a skill-based sport much like baseball used to be before the home run era began. In soccer, you don't really gain any advantage with size, a player's success depends more upon his smarts and technical ability. So, you can be a short guy and and still tower above your peers on the field (pun intended). Conversely, in gridiron football, basketball, and now in some respects baseball, a player's success greatly depends on size or strength. The Spoiler has compiled it's list of the best short players ever, and not to be left out, the Best Eleven has compiled a list of active tall players.
Xavi, I Think I Have a Man Crush
After a spree of multiple goal games, there has been a ton of talk about Barcelona forward Lionel Messi's ranking as one of the best players of all time. While there is no doubt that Messi is immensely talented, I have to wonder how much of his recent success is due to one particular teammate, Xavi. I mean, just look at how Messi dissapoints for Argentina, where there is no Xavi to retain possession and provide the defense-splitting pass onto Messi running in behind. I was floored when I heard some of the stats coming out of the recent Champions League tie that Barca won over Arsenal. During the two matches against Arsenal, Xavi attempted 244 passes, completing 229 for a 94% accuracy rate. That's more passes than the entire Arsenal midfield combined, and Arsenal is known for their "keep it on the floor and knock it around" style! In last week's El Classico match against Real Madrid, the man had 60% of the possesion himself and both goals were sparked by Xavi passes. Amazing!