Thursday, August 21, 2008

This is the longest off-season ever ... fuck it, let's talk soccer!

Don't worry, we will return to our regularly scheduled waiting for Mats coverage soon enough.

As the offseason drags on and on and on and on and on and (well, you get the idea) we need to find something to talk about. And once upon a time, way back in the beginning (around 1 BJ [Before Jaro, get your minds out of the gutter - ed.]) this blog started with a promise to discuss Soccer, Strippers ... and the Habs. We've done pretty well on the strippers and Habs topics, but our soccer talk is woefully inadequate, especially considering the wealth of hot soccer-themed pics that are out there. So here goes, as I pick up the soccer (or football, for the insufferable purist-types) ball and start running. (Which, ironically, would get me in big trouble were this an actual soccer game.)

My tastes run more towards the English game, with a side order of vehemently cheering against the evil that is Rangers in Scotland because that's what Scottish Catholics do. Scotland is predictable as hell, since Rangers and Celtic have won every league title since the mid-80's. Throw your lot in with one of the others if you don't mind winning the occasional Cup and getting bounced out of Europe early. I recently discovered my ancestors came from Lanark, so I may need to start supporting Motherwell or Hamilton Academical. Let's move on.

The EPL is almost as predictable as Scotland at this point, with Man U (Rangers-like evil, minus the religious bigotry) and Chelsea (new-money West London gate-crashers) looking better than Arsenal (formerly boring boring Arsenal, now slick and fun to watch, but young) and Liverpool (Cup knockout specialists, England's most successful team domestically and abroad, but equally bitten by glory and tragedy). Chelsea buys all the most expensive toys, Man U gets all the calls and is run by the Lou Lamariello of soccer, Arsenal is always exciting but doesn't have any money to spend, and Liverpool does stupid things like buy an entirely unecessary new forward at the expense of wingers, or spend the summer trying to sell their brilliant Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso and replace him with an older, inferior Englishman named Gareth Barry. God help me. Those four will end up in the top four spots in some order, just like they always do.

Panger is the Italian expert, so I defer to him, but it looks like Inter is the team to beat, with Milan (and Kaka! - unfortunate name, but wonderous player) Juventus and possibly Roma making it interesting. At some point, someone will get paid to fix a game, Juve will get a ton of sketchy calls in their favour, and the majority of the games will be dull 0-0 draws.

Spain = Real Madrid and Barcelona, with a dash of Villareal, Athletico Madrid, and possibly Sevilla tossed in. Keep an eye for the yearly struggle of Athletic Bilbao to stay up; they are one of only three teams (along with Real Madrid and Barcelona) to never be relegated ... but they also refuse to sign any players who aren't Basque. That's pretty remarkable. Imagine the Bruins announcing they would only sign players from New England. Yeah. Not the easiest way to build a contender ... but nothing else works for those cheapskates, so maybe they should look into it.

In Germany ... oh, nobody watches German football. The league is called the Bundesliga. It's a fun word to say. Bayern always wins. Schalke once made Pope John Paul II an honorary team member. Bayer Leverkusen was actually started by the asprin maker. German football is weird. Exhibit A: FC St. Pauli.

In local news, the Impact has a great new stadium, Toronto FC has a great atmosphere, and the Canadian National team just fucking tied Jamaica. Hockey season can't come soon enough. We promise, no more soccer talk when that happens.

14 comments:

PPP said...

Not many people follow the Bundesliga here but maybe some of the other European countries should take a look at their set-up. They average the highest attendances, have the cheapest tickets, and have removable seating (for European games) so that their supporters groups can stand all game and do awesome shit like this.

As for Liverpool, on the surface selling Alonso for Barry does seem crazy BUT UEFA's regulations on Club-trained and Association-trained players actually is driving the move for Barry. It's also the reason that the big clubs have been buying so many teenagers so that they'll qualify for Club-trained status.

Keane was a good buy. With the 4-2-3-1 that Liverpool wants to play specialist wingers are not that important as the width is provided mostly by the wing-backs (Dossena, Degen).

But hilarious (and good!) analysis overall.

p.s. Damn those Rangers! (It's not just Scottish Catholics that have to hate the Rags ;))

Habsfan10 said...

@ PPP: I wish Rafa had decided two use his fullbacks like that before he wasted money on Mark Gonzalez & Jermaine Pennant and sent Babel and Kuyt out to the flanks (Babel can work out there, but Dirk just doesn't.) And as much as I see the logic of the Barry move, I would love for someone other than Xabi to move to make it happen.

Agreed, the Budesliga live looks fantastic.

HabsFan29 said...

EPL

AHEM, "The Barclays Premier League, Sponsored by BARCLAYS"

Don't want to get sued

Calling Sir Alex the "Lou Lamariello of soccer" is outstanding 10

Noda said...

If Ferguson is Lou Lamoriello who would Roman Abramovich be?

Super Pippo said...

FYI: Serie A has more goals per game than any league. Look it up.

bob said...

Would you believe Canada's game against Honduras in Montreal is already sold out!

People do crazy stuff when there's no hockey. Habs scalpers will probably do a killing during even during preseason.

Aller l'OM !

HabsFan29 said...

@HF29 - what I meant to say was "soc-cer?"

Habsfan10 said...

@ Pippo:

Provide a link? I'm pretty sure Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger on soccernet.com has mentioned repeatedly that the Bundesliga is usually the highest scoring of the big Euro leagues. Either way, I find Italian soccer dull. Catennacio is a horrible system ... reminds me of the trap.

fezworth said...

SPL! Go on you bhoys!

Or some such.

Go soccer. [footba']

Anonymous said...

If yer in Scotland and you don't want to get taken into the bog and beaten, robbed and fucked up the ass like that American guy in the film Trainspotting, say you like Thistle. Don't say you like Celtic or Rangers unless yer damn sure of it.

Thnistle's the harmless third choice, look them up, and use them for protection.

I've not researched this though and maybe they're demoted or defunct or some fuck, so look them up before opening your big gob.

PS:

Just don't talk to anybody in a bar in Scotland or England, they're all voilent angry fuckers who'll kill you cause they had too much beer.

Simple as, as they say in the east end, before they glass you.

Cheers,

Jeffhk

fezworth said...

Good point Jeff. Also, don't say Hearts outside of Edinburgh. Bad mojo there.

Rips it, scores! said...

My home town football club are on the verge of going out of business on their 80th anniversary.

Boo-urns

The club needs €130,000 by the end of the month or they may well cease to exist. A fire sale of some of our best players haven't helped much. :-(

Super Pippo said...

Catennacio is like 30 years ago, and it was invented by an Argentine. It is like the trap in the sense that people who hate it don't know what it is. I admit I don't know what the trap is but I hate it too.

It's a cliché, reminiscent of people who have never been to Montreal and talk about the "underground city".

fezworth said...

@rips it: My cousin got married in your hometown. I had my first Guiness hangover in your hometown... Good times.