What I Wrote, Week of 4/29
My book: you can preorder it here. Those who haven’t: please do: Those who have: please accept my undying love.
As for the stuff that was published this week …
-How are the Champions League races shaping up all across Europe?
They won't blow this ... right? There's a six-point gap between Barcelona in second and Real Betis in fifth, and the two sides meet in Seville in two weeks. Of course, both third-place Sevilla and fourth-place Atletico Madrid would also have to outperform Barca over the final five games in order for Xavi Hernandez's side to fall out of the top four.
Bye-bye, Messi-dependencia. Hello, Pedri-dependencia? With Pedri in the team, Barcelona have won 2.67 points per game at a goal differential of plus-1.93 per match. Over a full season, those would be the best- and second-best marks in Europe, respectively.
The big problem? The 19-year-old midfielder has only started 10 games in LaLiga -- and he's out for the rest of the season.
-Who will be the starting striker for the USMNT at the World Cup?
This is the blessing and the curse of international soccer: You don't get to pick which players develop into which positions; it just happens, because familial geography is destiny. Got two world-class keepers in Jan Oblak and Samir Handanovic? Tough luck, Slovenia. That's a pretty nice Mohamed Salah you got there, Egypt; would be a shame if you never developed any players who could pass him the ball, wouldn't it? Even the greatest national team of the 21st century struggled with this to a lesser degree. At Euro 2012, Spain had more midfielders than they knew what to do with but no strikers, so they just started one of them as a striker. Then, to fill the void, they convinced Brazil-born Diego Costa to play for La Roja instead of O Seleção -- and it all blew up in their face in 2014.
The USMNT, then, is experiencing a sort of C-list version of the Spain problem. There are competent players all across the roster, and even a bunch of stars playing for the best club teams in the world. There's just no one to, you know, kick the ball into the goal.
Enjoy your weekends, everyone.