So right, earlier in the week Liverpool’s Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise made the papers for getting into an alleged karaoke-fueled golf club fight (you can’t make that up) that involved the “hot-tempered” Bellamy swinging an iron in Riise’s direction. And then, in the Nou Camp against Barcelona in the highest-profile matchup in the Champions Leage Round of 16, Bellamy scores one and sets up Riise for the winner. And then swung an imaginary golf club to celebrate.
For the record, this is officially “Very 1986 Mets” of Liverpool. Getting a big win in the wake of ridiculous tabloid debauchery? And having the most ridiculous guys be the heroes? Yeah. That sounds about right.
Also, I am officially back from my imaginary leave of absence and watching a bit more soccer. Hmmm, what is it that just ended? I wonder. Anyway, I watched Arsenal yesterday and the Chelsea game today. In re: Arsenal, yeah, um, they weren’t very good. In re: Chelsea, I thought Sheva was good and feisty today, that Ballack was only occasionally in the game, that Obi Mikel is going to be really good, and that Essien is already really good.
Bellamy swings it as Barcelona are stunned
Liverpool face blanket fines for fracas from Benitez
Due to the whole “having a job” thing, I’m about to go radio silent on any web site that might contain info on the Champions League final.Â The DVRs are humming, and I shall look forward to watching it this evening.Â But I still have time for a pick, and with apologies to my Gooner officemate, this all smells like Ronaldinho’s year to me.Â I think this dude has a chance at immortality (CL + WC) and I think he’s going to make it happen.Â Play beautiful, Ronnie.Â Let’s call it 2-1 Barca.Â
(At the very least we know the good people at Nike are tickled pink by the whole thing.)
Opening leg results from the Champions League semifinals are looking good. It was lovely to see the Gooners hold serve at home, but positively delightful to see Barca snag the away goal at the San Siro, making Milan’s elimination all the more likely upon return to the Nou Camp (fingers crossed, knock on wood). Tough week for Don Berlusconi!
I don’t know why I’ve decided that Milan desperately need to lose, but they do. Were it not for the cowardice of Lyon in the last fifteen minutes of their quarterfinal second leg at the San Siro a couple weeks back, we wouldn’t even need to have this conversation. But since Milan poached a couple in the waning minutes (a TV show I’ve seen before), they’re through to the semis. For the love of all that is good and right with the footy, please don’t let them into the final! We’ve gotten rid of Juve; please, spare us any more Milan!
(Also, this is all a long way of saying that the best possible final involves Ronaldinho against Thierry Henry. Just like Nike likes it!)
It’s knockout season in the Champions League. Caught both games on ESPN2 this week, and this is what I learned:
(1) Ronaldinho is the best soccer player in the world, and it really isn’t close after that. He spent a solid ten minutes of the first half of Barca’s match against Chelsea on Tuesday just doing tricks; someone must have told him that he was filming a commercial or something. When he scored the go-ahead goal in the second half (despite three Chelsea defenders’ best efforts to knock him over), it all sort of clicked for me: this dude isn’t just fancy, he also wants to win. The Champions League, the World Cup — it all seems very possible.
(2) Chelsea were awful. They couldn’t get the ball to midfield. Maybe the EPL isn’t over after all.
(3) Thierry Henry is a pleasure to watch. I will miss him when he’s done.
(4) The stars of the 1998 FIFA World Cup aren’t getting it done anymore for Madrid. Man, did those guys look old! And tired! Poor Zidane! He still has the class, but I don’t think he has the legs. Roberto Carlos might have the legs (and I stress might), but he sure doesn’t have the class anymore. And Ronaldo looked really slow and uninterested for a guy who’s 29 years old. Also, I want to know how you can be that chubby when you’re going to soccer practice every day; is a Sir-Charlesesque weight gain in the gap-toothed one’s future?
Ronaldo Returns Fire At Pele [Foxsports]
As our resident West Coast correspondent, I’ve grown accustomed to being out of phase with the timing of most big European footy matches. If you want to watch the domestic European leagues live, you need to be up and watching TV by 7. Extremely uncivilized.
Unfortunately, this week I’m a bit further to the west than usual. Or further to the east. Depends on how you slice it.
That is, you can imagine my dismay at missing the most highly anticipated match of this year’s Champions League (at least until the second leg of the tie), due to be broadcast here in Beijing at 3:30 am local time. While I appreciate that (a) the game is on TV at all and (b) my jet lag will enable me to catch the second Champions League broadcast at 6:00 am, I’m a little bummed I won’t be able to watch the CHE – BAR match live. Sigh.
I say Chelsea mugs them on the crappy pitch and takes a 2-1 lead back to the Nou Camp.
A Bunch of Soccer Stuff In Chinese [Sina.com.cn]