footy musings from a (relative) newbie

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Sweet Delicious Symmetry

Manchester United lose 2-1, just like my other hated team, Chelsea. This is the type of football weekend that doesn’t come around often, so trust that I’m going to savor it.

Next up, an international break. Y’all know my feelings on those.

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Previously on the Premier League

Chelsea ran away with the league and left us quasi-neutrals quite bored with the whole spectacle.

But a new season is upon us, and hope is again alive that Mourinho and Co. will crash and burn.

That’s right folks. Our favorite sports soap opera has returned.

I’ve read all the preview articles and listened to all the season preview podcasts. I’m heading out to a pub tomorrow morning to watch the first Everton game of the season (vs. Watford). All that’s left for me to do is predict my top 4 finishers for the end of the season.

Yeah, despite ample documentation of my terrible prediction skills, I’m taking it there again.

  1. Chelsea – I haven’t seen anything in the pre-season/transfer season to tell me that Chelsea won’t win this title again (yes, including the New York Red Bulls reserves beating them in a friendly)
  2. Manchester United – They’ve shored up a lot of their problem areas (except for defense). I have to think they’ll be better than they were last season, though I don’t really have any evidence to back that up.
  3. Arsenal – two years in a row of not having to go through a Champions League playoff? Why not?
  4. Manchester City – I’m bemused to see some picking them to win the title. Why? Because they signed Raheem Sterling?

Off to bed, as kickoff is at 9:00 a.m.

Appreciating the Summer of Soccer Shade

It’s been a minute (well, more than a minute) since I’ve posted. That’s partly due to being busy (new job, big vacation). But it was also due to not being inspired to write about football. The conclusion of the European season was so lackluster, I couldn’t think of anything significant to say about it (actually, I couldn’t think of a thing to say about it at all).

Summer soccer – specifically, Women’s World Cup – has me excited again. I wish I could say the same about the Gold Cup.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw International Champions Cup in the DGAF pile too.

But the thing that’s really entertaining me soccer-wise these days is the amount of shade being thrown within the soccer family.

You could say Pia Sundhage got the Summer of Shade off to a good start in this pre-WWC article in which she threw shade at several of her former charges in the USWNT.

“I said that to Abby,” she recalled. “I told her: ‘If I stayed, you would be a sub. The best sub ever. But a sub.’ There was no question about that in my mind.”

Oh damn.

Then Victor Valdes threw subtle shade in response to Louis Van Gaal’s accusation that Valdes refused to play for the Manchester United reserves last season.

In other MU Shade news, new signing Bastian Schweinsteiger had his own to throw in response Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer’s remarks that Basti wouldn’t be able to handle the Premier League and maybe should have gone to MLS instead.

“I don’t know when Beckenbauer moved to America, but I am 30,” Schweinsteiger said. “It is a challenge for me to prove I can do it here, but I am confident I can adjust to the Premier League.”

Well damn.

But the Shade Kings of this Summer of 2015 (at least so far) have to be the MLS players who took to Twitter last week with their thoughts on Commissioner Don Garber’s picks of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard for the MLS All Star Game  XI (Yes, the same Gerrard and Lampard who have played exactly one MLS league game between them).

Basically.

As I noted in a tweet of my own on the ASG

Almost Home

Juventus is really trying my patience losing to Benfica in the Europa League. They should be winning this competition easily.

In the Champions League, we had four very expensively assembled teams and they managed to come up with ONE goal in two games. So the less said about that the better. Say what you will about the Europa League, but at least Benfica, Juventus, Sevilla and Valencia scored some goals in their games.

How Europa League is like the CTA Brown Line

It eventually gets to its destination, but it sure does take a damn long time to get there.

That’s right, as the Uefa Champions League is working toward its last 8, the Europa League is just getting to matchups for its last 16. This is why the Europa League gets a bad rap. With other competitions beginning to wind down, it seems annoying that there’s still SO MUCH left of this one.

AZ Alkmaar vs. Anzhi Makhachkala
Basel vs. FC Red Bull Salzburg
FC Porto vs. Napoli
Juventus vs. Fiorentina
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Valencia CF
Lyon vs. Viktoria Plzen
Sevilla vs. Real Betis
Tottenham vs. Benfica

I’m actually looking forward to quite a few of these matches: Basel v Salzburg, Porto v Napoli and Tottenham v Benfica all have potential to produce thrilling games. And that’s before we even get to Juventus vs. Fiorentina.

Another international break beckons next week. You know my feelings.

No shocks here

Bayern Munich over Arsenal and Atletico Madrid beating AC Milan – though only just? Maybe my prediction skills aren’t so bad after all*

Also – I think I read the best description ever of the Champions League – from The Guardian’s Daniel Harris in the preamble to his minute-by-minute for the Atletico/Milan game:

One of the many and great horrificities peculiarities about other people is finding that the things we like about them are also the things that we don’t like. The ability to love us, for example.

And that’s your “Champions League”. On the one hand, it’s always very brilliant, not something that can be said of very much. But, on the other and in identical aspect, it’s a protectionist racket that facilitates brutal wealth, absurd nationalism, and vomitous entities. On the one hand, it brings us surprise but legitimate thrills, like Dynamo Kiev in 1998, Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 and Porto in 2004. But, on the other and in identical aspect, the aforementioned quickly pillage their most valuable assets – hell, it’s even happened to Borussia Dortmund, last season’s finalists and the club with Europe’s highest average attendance. On the one hand, there is generally a goodly selection of clubs with a goodly shot at winning at it. But, on the other and in identical aspect, the accordant prize money ringfences domestic titles, winnable only by frequent competitors.

Pretty much.

Europa League tomorrow, so I’ll be checking my GoalLIVE app regularly for score updates.

*or, the Champions League is REALLY easy to predict at this stage

But my true happy place is…

…when Manchester United and Chelsea lose on the same day. Within hours of each other in fact.

It is beautiful.

It is joy.

It is right.

In other Premier League news, my Everton drew league leaders Arsenal. Only an Everton win would have made this the perfect EPL weekend for me.

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