Italian Broadcaster Tiziano Crudeli Writhes in Existential Agony as Barcelona Overtakes His Beloved AC Milan

If, as devoted Olympiakos fan Agememnon once said, pain and suffering are the tragical source of knowledge, then Italian TV presenter Tiziano Crudeli must be a very wise man indeed.

Here he is, grappling with the fundamental questions of existence, which have rudely confronted him via Lionel Messi’s opening goal, M’Baye Niang’s shot off the post for Milan, and Messi’s second goal, after which Crudeli’s life has been drained of all meaning:

Yet take note of Crudeli in the last segment, his equilibrium remarkably restored, objectively marking Jordi Alba’s series-clinching goal in his notebook.

That’s hard-won wisdom in action.

Watch Barcelona Ping Nine Passes in Nine Seconds Against Malaga

This never would have happened if US defender Oguchi Onyewu had been in the game for Malaga.*

But the big man from Bethesda, MD, was stuck on the bench, and could only watch as Barcelona toyed with his team in one brilliant sequence en route to a 3-1 win in La Liga on Sunday.

Take a look:

It’s worth noting that this is not a bottom-of-the-table side that Barcelona made to look like stationary orange cones; Malaga is in fifth place in La Liga with a 9-6-4 record and a shot at a Europa League berth.

* It still would have happened.

The Best Thing You’ll See All Week

Longtime Celtic supporter Rod Stewart—whose 1977 hit “You’re In My Heart” includes the lyrics, “You’re every schoolboy’s dream/ You’re Celtic, United…”—was in attendance for his beloved Scottish team’s landmark upset of Barcelona in the Champions League yesterday.

Let’s cut to him at the final whistle:

That’s the greatest. Forget the fact that Celtic only had 16% of possession on the day, they beat Barcelona. No one’s done that in the group stage of the Champions League since October 2009.

This Little Guy Was Ready for Euro 2012

Too bad his team wasn’t:

That’s pretty good, and pretty damn cute.

But what happened to the Clockwork Orange yesterday against Germany? They played so well at the start, and then their defenders (goalkeeper included) decided to go all Matador D on Mario Gomez.

As Backpost reader Tango said, the coach should show them the above clip for motivation before they face Portugal. They need to beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. by two goals, and hope Denmark loses to Germany, to reach the quarterfinals.

Backpost Excursion: Argentina Training at Red Bull Arena

The Backpost AV Team went out to Red Bull Arena last night to watch Argentina train ahead of their Clash-of-the-Titans friendly with Brazil tomorrow, and, well, any concerns we had about spending $48 (the Son of Backpost was in tow) to watch a practice session were immediately dispelled when we caught sight, from the fifth row, of Lionel Messi, Angel DiMaria, Sergio (Kun) Aguero , Javier Mascherano and the rest of the Albicelestes pinging the ball around in tight spaces like magicians.

It was well worth it, and thousands of others agreed. Here’s a completely professional, ESPN-worthy* pan of the crowd, where you can see that the lower bowl of RBA is just about full, which would put the attendance close to 10,000 (capacity is 25k):

When we arrived they were playing 11 v 11 in less than half the field—one goal moved to midfield, pitch narrowed to the width of the 18-yard box—and the display was awesome. Mistake-free, one- and two-touch passing, rarefied skill level. Here’s a sample:

A few observations from the session:

• Leo Messi’s first touch is made of rich, creamery butter. No matter what kind of pressure he’s under—and in an 11 v 11 drill in a compressed field, you’re constantly under pressure—his first touch leaves the ball right where he needs it.

• Angel Di Maria looks slight on television, but in person he’s got some starch, and he can absolutely thump the ball. He rocked the post with a shot during the 11 v 11 and later, in a shooting drill, sent one whistling past our ears in the stands. It was wobbling and shifting in the air as it went past.

• As much as we hate to admit it, we wondered how the U.S. national team would have looked running the same exercise. Probably … not quite the same.

They wrapped up the practice with some shooting. Click here to see Messi, at the 24-second mark, bending one into the side netting:

*This statement has not been fact-checked.

MLS Expansion Teams Go 2-for-2 In Downright Spectacular Home Openers

We always knew the Cascadia additions to Major League Soccer would be special. We just didn’t know they’d be this special, this soon.

The Portland Timbers saw Vancouver’s impressive home opener on March 19, and raised last night—producing nothing short of a landmark moment in U.S. soccer history while downing Chicago 4-2 in their first MLS game at Jeld-Wen Field.

Feeding off the high-voltage energy of the sellout crowd, which kicked off the night by singing the national anthem—all 18,627 of them, in goosebump-inducing unison—the Timbers took the initiative early, and never looked back. (Well, not until a late charge by Chicago that made the game all the more interesting.)

The atmosphere was second to none, anywhere on the planet, and the home team rose to the occasion, playing an inspired 90 minutes.

Complete highlights here:

For a roundup of quotes on the occasion from players, coaches, execs and observers, click here.