It's impossible not to be enthralled right now by the football being played by Barca, but their most recent demolition job, against Racing Santander, may have cost them - with Ibra injuring his ankle and now doubtful for the match against Malaga this weekend. I fully admit to thinking his playing style would not mesh well with Barca's style, particularly in light of how different a player he is from Eto'o, who was so successful in the Barca system. Well, so far Guardiola and co. seem to have this thing figured out, and his abilities are fitting in with the passing and movement of the 4-3-3 system perfectly. Fortunately this doesn't look like a long-term injury, and Zlatan's absence doesn't exactly tip the balance in favor of the Andalusians.
Speaking of injuries, as soon as I mention his name, there is an Owen Hargreaves sighting! Fergie claims Hargeaves will be available for the last three Champions League group matches. Usually this would be a big boost for Man U, and it may still be, but he's been gone for so long does anyone remember what type of player he is?
Continuing the injury theme, Stephen Appiah is being looked at by Catania. The once-promising player has had his career derailed by injuries and is currently a free agent. He failed an attempt to come back with Tottenham, and rumors had him possibly coming to MLS, but it's surprising he still hasn't caught on somewhere. Appiah is also captain of the "Footballers Who Look Like They Should Be a Gangster or Militia Soldier All-Stars," along with Nemanja Vidic, ex-football and current player of gangsters in the movies Vinnie Jones, and Joey Barton. Oh wait, sorry, Joey Barton only acts like a thug.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup starts up Thursday in Egypt. While some of the more established players under 20 years of age will remain with their clubs and won't be there (e.g., players like Bojan Krkic, Frederico Macheda, Jozy Altidore), this will surely highlight players of the future. Here are some key names to look out for, and here's a general preview of the tournament. Golden Ball winners at the tournament have included a host of famous players, particularly Argentines, who have dominated such youth tournaments. Some of the names include Maradona, Seydou Keita, Javier Saviola, Messi, and most recently Kun Aguero. I followed the 2007 edition of this tournament and there were a number of extremely entertaining matches, including a USA-Brazil match that contained better football than usually played in 90% of professional matches not involving teams with names like Barcelona or Manchester United (at least relative to the inexperience of the players). That match saw current full internationals Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Freddy Adu (I guess he's a sort-of full international) outduel Alexandre Pato and Jô. We'll keep an eye out for you and let you know some key matches to watch. And watch you can, because every match will be covered by one of the ESPN platforms! Of course that includes ESPN360, which you may not get, but at least its an option.