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.