17 March 2007

Draws, celery, and girl-on-girl action.

Sorry, everyone. It's hard to pay much attention to this blog when Liverpool haven't played in a week and a half. Stupid FA Cup (and yes, that is my bitterness talking). I'm still planning to talk about the remaining Champions League round of 16 matches, but not right now. Instead, a couple of articles I've been meaning to talk about, while I watch my NCAA tournament bracket collapse even further. (Also, if I never hear about Hansbrough's facemask again, it will be too soon.)

  • Getting rid of draws = bad idea. However, I don't know why the Guardian felt the need to throw in this little nugget:
    Just because the Americans can't get their heads round a non-result doesn't mean the rest of the world should fall in line. We should be proud of our superior tradition, just as we in Europe are proud of our wine, our cheese and our beer. Ever tasted any American cheese?
    I mean, I'm with him as far as the cheese and beer. But I know a lot of American soccer fans, and honestly? I think we've got more of a problem with diving than with draws. So maybe you want to work on that first, guys. The article doesn't talk about Americans besides that, and it doesn't seem like the no-draws idea in the League came from an American. In fact, Mr. Wilson, MLS has draws, and we seem to be just fine with that (to the extent we watch MLS). So in conclusion? Whatever.

  • Chelsea sets up "celery hotline." Because Chelsea fans like to throw celery at the opposing team, it seems. I know this is a problem and all, but . . . it's celery. No matter what club you're talking about, this sentence will always be hilarious:
    The statement went on to direct fans to a hotline they could call to report others seen carrying celery, promising that "all calls will be treated in confidence".
    Just. It's celery. Rogue fans carrying celery into stadia is, I believe, inherently funny.

  • And finally tonight, I think I prefer the England women's team to the men. I'd totally forgotten that it's a Women's World Cup year, probably because as little as they cover soccer over here, they cover women's soccer even less. I don't think I realized how ghettoized the sport is in Europe, though, till I read this article. You never hear about male footballers having to work another job to pay their bills, but even the women playing at the highest level have to have a day job. I can't imagine -- I can barely handle school on its own. This is what sealed my liking for them, though:
    Aluko, Asante and the 18-year-old Arsenal striker Lianne Sanderson sit watching a replay of a men's game, Arsenal v Manchester United, on TV. Hot topics for debate include Arsene Wenger's passing game; who they would rather go out with, Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney; and whether either of them is gay.
    I swear I've had that exact conversation. Several times.

12 March 2007

At least now we know a little Portugese.

Mourinho calls ref "son of a whore," escapes FA punishment.

"If you listen to me speaking I say the kind of word you mention 10 times in every 15 words," [Mourinho] said. "If you have a microphone on the dugout, I say that during the game 20 times, easy. The word can be abusive if you understand it as an abusive word."

Um, I think most people would consider that abusive, sunshine. The insult isn't the funny part of this, really, just his insistence that it wasn't supposed to be offensive. Seems like there should be more of a difference in how you talk to your players and how you talk to the refs. But I guess that's why I'm not the Special One.

07 March 2007

This cannot be accidental.

Wanke hoping to beat off stiff bribe penalty

Really, Soccernet? Y'all don't have anything better to do? Or you're entirely staffed by 12-year-olds. Either way, um, hee.

That just happened.

So, looking at Tuesday's Champions League games, wow, I have never been so happy to be wrong. I got exactly one of those matches right. (In my defense, I only picked Lyon because I liked their uniforms better.) I only got to see the Liverpool match, but that's not going to stop me from discussing all of them.

First, Roma/Lyon. I'm still amazed that Roma's no-strikers formation is working (if only Liverpool could pull that off). Also, didn't Lyon bring Houllier in to win the Champions League? Oops. I'm actually kind of happy to see Roma advance; while Serie A is a bit of a clusterfuck this season, Roma were consistently solid last season and are one of the few big clubs in Italy to have avoided the match-fixing scandal. I'm not a huge Totti fan, but it'll be interesting to see how Roma does in the quarters, since they haven't been in the Champions League for a few seasons now. (Also, how badly do Lyon have to perform in Europe before Tommy Smyth will stop calling them a dark horse team? Maybe two seasons ago, but not now, sunshine.)

And then there's Inter/Valencia. That link goes to video of the post-match fight, which seems to have been the only interesting thing about this one. A 0-0 draw, Valencia advance on away goals, and since I don't like Inter, I'm fine with it.

Before I start talking about Chelsea/Porto, I'd just like to say this: OH MY GOD MOURINHO GET OVER IT. Garcia's goal was over the line; but even if it weren't, what do you want them to do about it now? (And let's not forget Gudjohnsen' s miss in front of an open goal before we talk about why you didn't advance.) God, I really can't stand him. Anyway. This is the only tie I called correctly, but I didn't think Chelsea would make such a hard time of it. As useless as Ballack and Shevchenko have been in the Premiership this season, it's a little bit surprising to see them be actually worthwhile in this match, combining for the crucial second goal. I'm still not convinced Chelsea actually needed Ballack in the first place, but I guess if you're Abramovich, one goal in a knockout match is worth 120,000 pounds a week or whatever ridiculous amount they're paying him.

And last, Liverpool beat Barcelona on away goals. As you may have heard. I have to say, this game gave me a heart attack, just about. Especially in games like this, and especially after the Man U game Saturday (do not speak to me of John O'Shea), I'm never happy when we've got an advantage to defend. Honestly, with that Gudjohnsen goal, I thought it was all over. Considering we'd had our customary no-goals-to-15-shots, yeah. The last fifteen minutes of this match were the most tense I've been watching Liverpool since stoppage time in the Chelsea semifinal. I think we were the better team for the majority of the game -- even with Eto'o back for Barca, they were never really able to get him into the game. I forgot Messi was even on the field, so thoroughly did Arbeloa shut him down, and Ronaldinho doesn't look like even half the player he has been in the past. The BBC has all the details, up to and including possession statistics.

So, we did it. I still really can't believe it, but I'm happy. I hesitate to predict any further, because the team has been so incredibly inconsistent this season (or really, for the past couple seasons), but you know. This is good. Anything that gives Steven more opportunities to stick things down his shorts is very good indeed.

Coming up, post-mortem on Wednesday's matches, and at some point I may attempt to work through my PTSD after the Man U game. Who needs the Premiership anyway?