I've been hesitant to talk soccer, particularly Champions League soccer on this here blog, because I tend to have to watch the games later than they are actually aired, and I give my copies to miwacar so he can watch them (the poor bastard doesn't have cable). But it has been a few days, I figure we can start to talk about the implications of what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday, plus some other stuff, too. After all, we all love soccer here (except for stupid novelist Andrew).
The Semi-Finals were all about draws that should have been wins. Tuesday's game was pretty ugly, and the scoring certainly was. That was the one that featured Liverpool vs. Chelsea. Liverpool took an early lead thanks to a rather unrefined piece of finishing from little regarded striker Dirk Kuyt. The game was done. It was in the books. We were in the 94th minute, and there was nothing left but the shouting by the Anfield faithful, singing, "You'll Never Walk Alone", when an own goal by John Arne Risse sent that game into a tie, and gave Chelsea the instant advantage, as they scored an important road goal. But this may not work particularly to Chelsea's favor, because I don't think they want an aggressive Liverpool on their turf, and that's what they'll get. I think it clear that despite the mega-million signing, Chelsea isn't the creative attacking force that Liverpool is. And now, Liverpool knows they need to score.
Wednesday's game ended in a 0-0 draw, but the defining moment in that game maybe came much much earlier than the defining moment in the earlier game. Christiano Ronaldo, who has simply a season that will go down as one of the finest offensive seasons ever in professional soccer, missed a fucking penalty kick. Missed it. It wasn't a keeper guessing the right thing, Ronaldo flat out missed it. But aside from that missed opportunity, the game was, for the most part, all about Barcelona and their domination at Camp Nou. And yet, still, 0-0. Manchester is thinking "We hit that penalty kick and we win." and Barcelona is thinking, "We owned these fuckers, we just didn't score." But the next leg is in Manchester, and while Barcelona get back dirty hacker Puyol, they lose outlet defender Rafa Marquez (yellow card issues). Possession in soccer is hugely important--more important than it is even in American Football. But you still have to score, and while Barcelona may be thinking positive thoughts, I have to give the edge to Manchester United.
I'm predicting a Man U vs. Liverpool Champions League Final, and I have to say, I find the idea of an all English Final a little disappointing. Martin Rogers over at Yahoo tells me I better get used to it.
Of course, Martin also tells me that I may have to get used to the idea of Thierry Henry playing for the new MLS franchise in Seattle. Martin has been floating this idea of Henry coming to the MLS for months now. Now he is saying that Henry's performance has been so disappointing that maybe the MLS won't have to wait until his contract runs out--that the MLS may get a 30 or 31 year old Henry. That will simply never happen. Rogers suggested that Zidane would make his way to the MLS, too. File this idea of his under that. Rogers tend to fantasize about what would be great for the MLS, not what would be actually great for the player involved. Henry is only 30--he's got at least one transfer back to the Premiership before he comes to the US. And he's not going to Seattle, no matter how awesome Rogers makes that worthless city sound.
In much more believable news, Capello says that Beckham could be his man at right midfield for the English in 2010. Why would he say that? Because England has yet to produce a better crosser of the ball than Becks. Will they in the next 2 years? Doubtful. If there isn't room for Beckham on the qualifying team starting right fucking now, England doesn't even have a great chance of qualifying for 2010. Beckham's assists make goals happen, and England is desperately thirsty for goals.
When England does poorly, the English media like to gnash and moan about how the influx of foreign talent is fucking up their chances to develop their own talent. But, what the hell--look at the Bundesligue or Eredeversie, and you'll see leagues that embrace foreign talent (before they get bought up by English league teams) and you'll see countries that put together pretty good teams. Hey, England--maybe you are just not very good right now. Maybe your 3 best goalies in your league play are American. Maybe Team USA would beat the 3 Fat Lazy Lions of England 7 times out of 10. How about that?