Frequent commenter and former legal colleague Klinsi is either very brave or very foolish, as he has taken a bet with on the aggregate outcome of the two Barca-Stuttgart matches in the Champions League. Barca has won four in a row by an aggregate score of 13-3 while Stuttgart has lost three of their last four, including a 2-1 loss over the weekend to newly-promoted Hansa Rostock. The bet, as all good bets do, involves hard-to-find beers. If hell freezes over and Stuttgart wins, I have to buy Klinsi a case of something called Stuttgarter Hofbrau, about which Klinsi surely has a story that starts with a lot of drinking at a long wooden table in 1988 and ends in the arms of a Belgian temptress names Anaïs behind a dumpster:
If Barca win, then Klinsi is on the hook for a case of the beer than has inspired countless stumbles and pratfalls by inebriated tourists on Las Ramblas (as well as my wife accidentally putting her hand in dog poo): Estrella Damm:
I'm probably tempting the fates by posting this, especially in light of the fact that the invaluable Yaya Toure is out for a month with a torn muscle in his leg, but, uh, I'm pretty confident. I have DVRed and watched Barca's last four games and the team is absolutely living up to expectations. Interestingly, they have gotten better since Ronaldinho's calf injury/secret suspension for being isufficiently committed to getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Playing Iniesta, a midfielder, at the left forward position instead of Ronnie has improved the offense because the ball circulates better. Toure has made the team significantly stronger defensively by preventing opponents from mounting any attacks through the middle. He can also pass the ball properly, which is a new thing for a Barca defensive mid. Eric Abidal has shored up Barca's perpetual weakness on their defensive left, although a new leak might have been sprung on the right now that Zambrotta is out and Oleguer is the new right back. Leo Messi has been playing at an unconscionably high level, Thierry Henry is finally starting to finish the bevy of chances that the side create, and Deco has been outstanding. The team of the past two weeks would walk all over Stuttgart; the question is whether a team with Oleguer at right back, Marquez in defensive midfield, a still-recovering Puyol in central defense, and Ronnie at left forward can do the same.