Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Ends of Things (and some beginnings, too?)

We've covered soccer whimsically, half-assedly, and haphazardly here, especially recently. Now, in a very special guest post, Friend of G:TB Otis gives us the perspective of an honest-to-God footie fan. Take it away, my man.

While most football fans are - understandably - looking anxiously toward South Africa right now, this writer is still contemplating the end of this most recent European club football season. Inter Milan are European champions for the first time in some forty years, and the Special One has put one more notch in his goalpost to bolster his case for his self-appointed status.

There are much smarter observers who can write about how Mourinho has succeeded in three major football leagues, or how the financial management of club football is creating a chasm between a few "haves" and many "have nots" (think about the payroll difference between the now re-relegated Burnley side that beat ManU at the beginning of the season, or look at the points gap between 2d and 3d place in La Liga). However, below are some thoughts on interesting stories to consider at the close of the season. This list is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of the season - just some observations at the close of a terrific campaign. Many are decidedly the ends of things, but some just may be good beginnings, or re-beginnings, as it were:

Wesley Sneijder's return: Getting the boot from Real Madrid was the best thing that ever happened to this guy. What a season he had: he found regular first team football (which he didn't always have even before Galacticos 2.0 arrived at the Bernabeu), and in the process, ended up with the eventual European champions. His confidence cup runneth over sometimes, to the point of acute arrogance (e.g., his straight red at mocking the ref during a Serie A regular season game), but his talent is unquestionable: great vision and passing, a rocket-shot, and dangerous deadball skills. It's too bad Mourinho left Inter for Sneijder's old club, because he fit so well into Jose's system. Hopefully, things work out for him in the next season--he made Inter fun to watch (for me).

David Villa's departure: Well, Valencia finally succumbed to the financial pressure and sold one of the world's least known best strikers to Barcelona. It's a shame, because he was one of half a dozen players that were keeping Valencia within sight of it's former glory. While they lagged well behind Real Madrid at the close of the La Liga season, Valencia finished solidly in third place (again), and Villa, along with David Silva, Juan Mata, Pablo Hernandez, and a few others, were the reason. It's hard to believe that some of these talents will stay now that Villa has gone, and that could lead to an inexorable slide for Los Che, when the vicious circle of financial pressures forces the sale of good players, which leads to lower revenues, which leads to more financial pressures, and on and on. Valencia wouldn't be the first club to fall down this hole, but what a said story it would be. I haven't been following football that long, but one of the first La Liga matches I watched was Valencia v. Villareal--I was hooked. The crisp passing and movement was a joy to watch (plus how cool is that bat logo on their kit?). And don't forget it wasn't that long ago that Valencia was a real challenger in the Champions League: they played in the finals in both 2000 and 2001, losing to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, respectively. It will be terrific for fans, for La Liga, and football in general, if they can hang on to some good players and stay competitive.

Myth of English football dominance: There was a lot of gnashing of teeth the last few years about the dominance of English football, when 3 of the 4 teams in two consecutive semi-finals were English teams (Liverpool, Chelsea, and eventual winners, Manchester United in 2008; Chelsea, Arsenal, and ManU in 2009). However, a closer look shows that this concern is largely unfounded. In the last ten years, English teams have won just twice--the aforementioned ManU victory and Liverpool's "Miracle at Istanbul" in 2005. Spanish teams have won 4 times (Barcelona and Real Madrid with 2 victories a piece), Italians 3 times (2 for AC Milan and 1 for Inter this year), and Porto of Portugal bringing home the trophy once, setting Jose Mourinho on his way. I think the argument is "mute" (as a former Rex would say) ((NOTE: we're deep into inside joke territory here)) until the English bring the Cup home a few more times.

Stay tuned for more of Otis' musings on the beautiful game, in which he waxes rhapsodic about Javier Zanetti and compares Liverpool to the Beatles. I hope Michela Quattrociocche is Yoko.

49 comments:

d-train said...

rob's up early this morning.
from the previous post - the porn star's sword rob - do you think it was a sword or an appendage?

zman said...

I don't understand anything that happened in this post. Who is the pretty girl?

T.J. said...

I'll tell you who it ain't: Ani DiFranco

T.J. said...

The fact that Delonte West is now on the trading block will certainly not damper the Queen Gloria rumors.

rob said...

the lady is the aforementioned michela q ono, z.

for you fans of obscure sports, the national collegiate rugby 7s championship is on nbc at 4.

Igor said...

In a bit of coincidence, the one person I know who is attending this rugby championship is the aforementioned "mute point" Rex.

NBC, who if you remember was the last network to start putting the current score on the screen of their football games, is doing a very good job of using technology to enhance the rugby for the unfamiliar. I don't know whether it'll convert any newbies into fans, but it's the right approach. That and avoiding most all shots of the women ruggers.

Shlara said...

I realize today's post is about soccer. But I just want to pause for a music break. If you haven't tuned in to NPR music, you should def check it out. This station/site reminds me of the WHFS of the 80s--and this article confirms that's by design.

http://tinyurl.com/25qw3aa

zman said...

I didn't expect to see Major Lazer on NPR's music site. Nice job Shlara.

rob said...

bob boilen is a righteous fellow. npr music is part of my daily routine.

Igor said...

The semis weren't much, but this rugby final is about as good of a match as American audiences could ask for. OT, major upset, back and forth game, great plays, and a huge, long-haired Samoan guy running over people. A+.

Dave said...

as the g:tb half-assed soccer correspondent, i'm embarrassed to admit that i could make no sense of that post, but i do find out about lots of cool music on NPR's soundcheck-- they always have great bands performing and review excellent stuff-- from jazz to classical to hip-hop.

last week i heard "das racist" perform "i'm at the pizza hut, i'm at the taco bell," which is perhaps the catchiest song ever written.

rob said...

i know i'm not the first to make this point, but it's nearly unforgivably stupid to have both the nba and nhl finals on at the same time. yeah, that's right. unforgivable.

zman said...

I liked that movie. Clint Eastwood was fantastic.

zman said...

So it appears that the Black Keys sold out for a fucking vampire show on ABC.

Mark said...

Give David Stern a call, Rob. I'm sure he'd love your input.

rob said...

i assume bettman is to blame. stern couldn't give a flying shit.

rob said...

not the first period michael leighton hoped for

mayhugh said...

Mark - caught your Cotto-Foreman remarks on private post. What a bizarre fight, and I came out a foreman fan. But is it too much to ask that when we have Manny Steward in a corner (and not commentating) that we dust off Larry Merchant as the third man? Roy Jones Jr. is only slightly better than Lennox

rob said...

that bryant dagger will come back to haunt boston

rob said...

wayne rooney is only 24? he's like the jeremy hiatt of world soccer - feels like he's been around forever.

Mark said...

Wait, Wayne Rooney's part black?

And yeah, that last shot by Kobe seems like it will haunt Boston.

Roy Jones Jr. is about as articulate as TJ when he leaves me late night voicemails.

rob said...

hawks just scored as pretty a goal as you'd ever want to see - all 5 players on the ice touched the puck before byfuglin tapped it in

rob said...

shame kevin garnett isn't still alive

Shlara said...

I don't like Taco Bell, but I do like the commercial where Barkley says "turr-ah-bull" like 10 times.

zman said...

I can't believe the cheap schmucks at GM only put a 40GB hard drive in the Lacrosse.

Shlara said...

Rondo's shoes are distracting

Shlara said...

Oh, and I heart Ray Allen. But you guys know that already. Needed to be stated again since he had such a good game tonight.

zman said...

So it's a crime to get on a plane with the intent to join a terrorist group? What's the name of that crime?

d-train said...

40-eve rob....nervous?
better get that prostate exam scheduled.

Greg said...

Mopery with intent to grope.

Igor said...

Calling all DC eaters... especially Geoff.

Need a high end restaurant rec downtown for my dad. The latest, greatest place to get a meal as well as have a drink. (Message wasn't clear if he's looking for one place that offers decent bar and dinner or if it's two places. Matters not, send anything you've got.) Thank yous all.

d-train said...

old ebbitt and/or daily grill...or chile's

zman said...

I second Old Ebbitt and their crab cakes. Oceanaire is darn good too.

Igor said...

I love Old Ebbitt, but the old man has been there plenty and is looking for something a little newer and fancier.

Oceanaire I really liked as well, but it's just so 2005. (I'm kidding.)

Mr. Truck said...

you don't need a prostrate exam until you turn fifty.

unless you request it, and i'm sure rob will.

Mr. Truck said...

MR TRUCK!

Igor said...

Mr. Truck, you ignorant slut. That is the kind of short-sightedness that will make me your pallbearer.

If any of us, God forbid, contract prostate cancer before 50 -- and it does happen, it will take early detection to keep it from killing us. Like breast cancer, it's most deadly in younger victims and less lethal in old folks.

I want a doctor's digit up there no more than you do -- and way less than Rob does -- but dammit, man, don't let your rampant homophobia let you turn a blind eye to the very real presence and danger of prostate cancer. We have too many dead friends already, you stupid asshole. If you die early, it needs to be from me pummeling you for saying moronic things.

Now back to your regularly scheduled dipshittery.

zman said...

I have been prostrate for many portions of medical examinations but I have never had a prostate exam.

d-train said...

very inspiring igor. so much so i just went and checked mine. now if i could just find a handy wipe.

Michael said...

Central is very good in downtown DC, although service could be better. The Source is supposed to be good as well. I recently dined at Zengo with Geoff and his better-half and that was excellent. Also, if you can get a reservation, Rasika is amazing.

Although I'm not sure if other people would get the ame show, but we went to Poste for drinks after dinner the other night. Great outdoor seating in the inner courtyard. The best part was what happened with the couple sitting 10feet away from us. The two were being rather amorous for awhile. When we looked back a bit later, the man was on his knees with the young lady's legs up on his shoulders and his head buried in her crotch under her skirt. It took all of us a bot by surprise to say the least, but it was good entertainment. It only lasted a few minutes, but worth the overpriced drinks and terrible bar service.

T.J. said...

Using the whole fist, doc?

Greg said...

I second the Central rec. Also try Tosca (very nice Italian, 11th & F) and and Brasserie Beck (good Belgian beer selection, 11 & K).

Mark said...

In other news, the Bucs/ManU owners (Glazer family) is reportedly 1.6B in debt. I'm not much for high finance but that seems like a problem.

d-train said...

i heard Poste has the best clams in town

T.J. said...

I heard "Post"on Showtime was better than The Wire.

rob said...

dave, with my family history, i'm bending over for the doctor as soon as i can.

and igor, your dad would enjoy the cowboy cafe - the one on glebe.

d-train said...

cowboy...good times...whigor - when's the last time you were at the cowboy?

Mr. Truck said...

hmmm.

my doctor said i absolutely didn't need to get anything inserted in my rectum until i was fifty . . . but perhaps he knows how hairy my ass is and just didn't feel like dealing with THAT jungle.

do i smell a lawsuit? pun intended.

Mr. Truck said...

dammit, i forgot again.

MR TRUCK!