Valverde’s Barcelona balancing act turns crisis talk to treble talk

The coach used Neymar’s exit as a chance to reboot the faltering giants as Chelsea will find out in Champions LeagueSometimes football really is life. On Tuesday Barcelona face Chelsea in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge where in 2009 Andrés Iniesta scored a last-minute goal that he still watches occasionally. “It’s a moment that is always there, forever,” he says. For some fans, reminded of it daily, that is especially true. According to a spokeswoman for the maternity ward at the Quirón hospital in Catalonia, his goal didn’t only take Barça to the final, it provoked a spike in the birth rate. “I’m going to have to get more staff in if they keep winning titles,” Mercedes Rodríguez joked. Nine months after Iniesta’s goal, Rodríguez noted that births were up from nine or 10 a day to 14 or 15 in her hospital alone. “People asked if there been a full moon or something,” she said. Some reports claimed a 45% increase, which seemed unlikely, so it was tested. A study in the British Medical Journal admitted to potential “bias owing to the effects of the adjacent jubilation” of Barcelona-supporting researchers and was quick to note that they “didn’t contribute to the observed effect”, but tentatively concluded that it was plausible to talk of a 16% rise. More research, though, was needed. Continue reading...