Friday, July 30, 2010

Man Boob



















Doesn't look like this Valerenga player wore his sports bra during yesterday's friendly against Barcelona.

(Photo courtesy of MundoDeportivo)

It's Friiiiday


La Liga may change start times to increase viewership in Asia (and stick it to the Premiership)

Disgusting displays of racism in Macedonia last night [Daily Mail]

Forget the MLS, Landon Donovan is weighing up his options for Europe [Goal.com]

Not quite sure what this 23 year old English lingerie model has to do with anything football related but it's something nice for Friday [Elle Liberachi]

Franck Ribéry has come forward with more details. Turns out he had a full out orgy with the under-aged prostitute, her friend, and another of his comrades. They apparently kept switching throughout the night. Well done Franck. [Marca]

Reaction to Maradona's departure [Soccernet]

Who Wears Short Shorts?


Joe Cole was training the other day with new club Liverpool and - well - the thing is there really are shorts under there. At least I really hope there are.

But in truth it is no surprise to see young master Cole prancing around like this. He's had quite an extensive and well documented career of short shorts. Which got me thinking, I'd love to see Joe's thighs through the years and maybe some of the inspiration behind it...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Gift that Keeps on Giving


Sara and Iker are still stateside and the other day spent a little time at the pool...

There's really nothing left to say.  Full gallery this way.

Manchester United Rolls Over MLS All-Stars

Last night's 5-2 drubbing was comical at times. Mostly though, it was a highlight real of great goal after great goal for the English side. A clinic of how the game is played. MLS All-Stars? Not so much...


MLS' All Star Crock


Events over the past 2 days have clearly illustrated why MLS will never be a significant entity until changes are made. The mentality in this country is skewed as it's become more and more apparent how much football has been Americanized into soccer. On the one hand there's no choice. Everyone agrees this isn't our sport and without tweaking it a bit to cater to the American public, it would never survive. However, this country still has a duty to respect the game, and quite frankly, we don't.

I'll get to the All Star game in a bit, but let's start with the Los Angeles Galaxy - this year's premiere team in MLS. They have dominated all competition so far winning 12, losing 2, and drawing 4. They've scored the most goals in the league and given up the fewest. Topping the Western Conference, they are still 9 points clear of second place Real Salt Lake and 6 points ahead of the Eastern Conference leader. You get the point - they ain't too shabby. The Galaxy took all this talent into Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League qualifying match against the Puerto Rico Islanders who play in the USL - America's second tier league. Puerto Rico soundly thumped them 4-1 in Los Angeles. 4-1!! What a disgrace. LA is the face of Major League Soccer captained by arguably the most noticeable player on the planet right now in Landon Donovan. There shouldn't be any club team on the continent who comes close. Yet, in our Champions League, what should be the most prestigious tournament for club teams playing in CONCACAF, the Galaxy simply couldn't care less.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Carlos Tevez is Getting Grimey


I'll just get right to the point. Carlos Tevez (26) has decided women his age aren't mature enough so he's chosen an 18 year old actress named Brenda Asnicar instead.

It was reported a few weeks back that Tevez and his new squeeze were dating behind the scenes. Nobody truly knew anything concrete as the couple remained hush hush and out of sight. Until now...

Brenda broke her silence on a radio interview saying, "He’s very handsome, but I am very careful about my private life." Hold on one second there missy. Handsome?! Maybe she's just too young to truly appreciate a handsome man, because the last time I checked, her boyfriend looks more like Ugly Betty than Fabio. Let's just hope there's no neck foreplay.

Brenda is a tricky WAG to cover, and for obvious reasons. Please be assured that she turned the legal age to buy cigarettes in the U.S. when these photos were taken.

Practice Makes Perfect

Creativity in the Spanish camp apparently runs through every level of their national football program. The U-19 squad converted this cheeky, cheeky, cheeky free kick against England today in the semi-finals of the U-19 European Championships.

Right off the training pitch:

Steve Cherundolo Named Captain


America's own Stevie Chode (c'mon he looks a bit like one and there ain't much else to do with his last name) has been named Hannover 96's captain for the upcoming season.

He becomes only the fourth American in the history of EVER to wear the captain's armband for a European club. Unfortunately though, this honor has been rudely similar to the well documented Madden curse. Claudio Reyna was first as he took the armband for German side VfL Wolfsburg in 1997. Midway through his second season with the club he was shipped to Rangers. Brian McBride became captain of Fulham prior to the 2007/08 season only to bang up his knee early in the season keeping him inactive for 5 months. And Kasey Keller served as Borussia Mönchengladbach's captain for a whopping 1 season before moving to England in 2007.

Let's not belittle this achievement though. At 31 and coming off a wonderful World Cup, Steve still has plenty to offer his club. Come to think of it, it seems only appropriate that Hannover bestowed this honor upon him after 11 years of service (it is the only club he has played for in his career). Americans scatter throughout Europe to play their football - from the Premiership and La Liga to second divisions in France or the Netherlands. It is extremely rare to find an American that has stuck with one squad for so long, and this new honor is a testament to Steve's abilities as a player and leader.

Let's just hope it lasts a bit longer than his predecessors.

Sara Carbonera has a new gig


The love of my life is in the news again. And frankly, any news involving her is BIG news on this site.

Sara has signed on with Italian TV giant Mediaset Premium owned by AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi. She will serve as the Spanish correspondent for the weekly wrap-up show called Premium Calcio. The people of Italy should be thankful that Spain is in good spirits since winning the World Cup. It is not often the winner shares its spoils!

How might we benefit from her new role? Well unless you've got a dish forget it. However, everyone in San Francisco had an opportunity to gawk the other week as she and Iker went on holiday. Faux-honeymoon photos this way.

Greatest Goal Celebration

Who says Iceland has nothing to offer the world? Sure, it got a bad rap after that whole volcano fiasco a couple months back, but this display will forever change our impressions of the island nation.

Stjarnan played Fylkir the other day and after scoring the game winner, Halldor Orri kicked off what is arguably the greatest celebration ever thought of...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cheeky Penalty Kick

Ezequiel Calvente of Spain's U-19 squad converted this penalty kick over the weekend at the European Championships.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fat Ronaldo's Career May Be Over

(marca.com)

That picture says it all. He looks like the little fat kid in any movie who's forced to run a short distance and then pleads for death more than anything. Ronaldo commented the other day, "I'm getting very old, and my body is urging me to stop." I think what his body is really telling him to stop is the drinking, eating, partying, eating, eating, and hooking up with trannies. Very old? He's only 33!!

To be fair, you can't really blame the guy if he chose to call it quits in the near future. He is THE Ronaldo. Ronaldinho, which means "little Ronaldo" and whose real name is Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, was forced into that nickname without a choice. You couldn't just waltz around with the king's name. He scored 242 times in 333 appearances during his club career. Not to mention another whopping 62 goals in 97 appearances for his country. 15 goal in the World Cup remains an all-time record. He's won every tournament and individual honor imaginable.

We still have until December to watch him play, but all signs are pointing to that being the very end. Here's a quick compilation of his masterful career.

Friday Links!

(marca)

A great collection of look alikes for members of Manchester United [Right this way]


Sky Sports (England's ESPN) released an indescribable commercial for their brand spankin' new season. [Chicks in leather]


An insight into how American politics interact with football. I promise you won't find another article like it. [Click]


UEFA's cowardly response to goal-line techonology [The Guardian]


More disgusting and despicable behavior from South American club football [Managers starting fights]


All of the World Cup murals you may, or may not, have seen [Artwork this way]

Henry Debut

No. That title doesn't read Hen-ree De-Butt. And no, don't let ESPN try to tell you they were playing Tot-en-Ham. Last night, Red Bull Arena witnessed the debut of proper French cuisine. Harrison, New Jersey's best au jous. Okay, you get the point. Thierry Henry made his US and MLS debut last night with 45 minutes of intelligent, creative, and, at times, mesmerizing football. Oh, and he scored a goal.

For fans of the game in this country, it was an epic night. Not in the way ESPN and most of the media will portray it for you simply because he scored (after all, yanks only care about goals...). But it was so much more than that. He was employed as a central striker where he can be most damaging. Yeh, Tottenham held the ball for long spells. And to be honest I kinda felt bad for Henry during these spells as Tottenham exposed the mammoth gap between MLS and the rest of the world simply by knocking the ball around. But when the Red Bulls reclaimed possession, and they did many times, Henry served as the pivot man in the final third.

Whether it was his positioning, passing, or movements off the ball into open space, we saw everything this man can still offer. As for the goal itself, what a thing of beauty. Joel Lindpere skinned Alan Hutton sending a perfect cross into the middle. Just watch Henry while Lindpere beats his man, and then his instinctive run towards the near post to receive the pass. The shot itself was a beauty to watch as well.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves here yet. It was only his first game and 45 minutes at that. But for everyone watching, they saw what very well could be the best foreign superstar to perform in this country's domestic league in its 17 year history.

Thought I'd finish without mentioning Beckham? He's a crock. And Henry will ensure that nobody will ever remember anything Beckham contributed to MLS on the field.

Soccer Tennis

Nadal has skillsssss:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baby Cris-Ron Part 2

(elmundodeportivo.es)

False alarm!  Although it was reported the other day that Cristiano Ronaldo's girlfriend, fellow underwear model Irina Shayk, had explained on her facebook page she intended to marry the dreamy man-whore, it turns out the whole thing was a farce.

According to Irina, somebody hacked onto her facebook page and displayed her intentions for marriage. She, of course, has no interest in marrying Mr. Ronaldo.

Who could blame her? How could anyone ever think he would be a one woman man the rest of his life?! They've been together for a few months now which means she doesn't have much time left. In fact, she'll probably get the ax as soon as Real Madrid kick of the 2010/11 campaign.

As for Cristiano Jr.? His hopes of having an illegitimate mother have been dashed. The closest thing he'll get is whomever Cris-Ron hires to be the nanny, and I can only imagine how many millions that woman will get. I also kinda feel bad for Jr. because his father won't be able to hold him for another year since infants cannot come in contact with spray-on tanning solutions as it causes a terrible rash and infection.

Good news is, Cristiano doesn't seem to be giving up his swinging lifestyle so Jr. has plenty of late nights and VIP lounges to look forward to when he grows up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Incredible Goal

Check out this stunner from Croatia's Franko Andrijasevic against Spain at the U-19 European Championships going on in France:

Steinbrenner buying Tottenham?

There are always perks to owning the highest valued team brand on the planet. One of them, of course, is the ability to buy pretty much anything you want. Now, leave it to the English rags to release a story like this only days after The Boss passed away, but it is nonetheless intriguing. The Daily Star reported on Sunday that the Steinbrenners have considered a bid of £450 million to buy Tottenham Hotspur. Hank supposedly turned down an approach by Tottenham some years ago to buy a 33% interest in the club for about £20 million.

You can take the story for what it's worth. English tabloids like the Daily Star are less believable than even the National Enquirer by some margin. But let's just remember that the precedent already exists for American ownership in the English Premiere League. Four of the biggest clubs in the country are owned by Americans - The Glazer Family owns Manchester United, Tom Hicks and George Gillett own Liverpool, Randy Lerner owns Aston Villa, and Stan Kroenke is very close to owning a majority stake in Arsenal. Everyone has mixed reviews but to be fair, Steinbrenner would be better than all of them combined.

Worst Interview in History

A couple months ago, I had to renew my driver's license. My mother kept asking me why I don't get a New York one. After all, I live here, I work here, I sleep here, I party here. But I said no. Just as my passport says I'm American, my license should read New Jersey. I am not a New Yorker.

Well - if I ever needed something to emphasize that point, this video does the trick. It has to be one of the most shocking, insulting, and embarrassing interviews I've ever seen. Fox should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. Ever heard of wikipedia or cue cards? Thankfully, Thierry shows the utmost class and doesn't even roll his eyes once. Never has anything made me want to distance myself more from New York than this:

Vuvuzela Ban

(Dirtytackle)

I have no idea why anyone thought these stupid pieces of plastic would make their way to stadiums abroad after the World Cup. I'm still pissed that nobody saw it for what it could be, a weapon, and threw it onto the pitch during one of the games so they'd finally be banned.

Luckily for us, England is good at something other than playing football. A number of clubs in the Premiership including Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham United, Sunderland and Birmingham City have banned the horns from their grounds. A number of others look set to follow suit. Some cited the need to ensure the most enjoyable environment for fans while others noted the health issues due to the incredibly high decibel level.

Lets be honest though. This is England. If a fan blows that horn in someone else's ear, at the very least something like this could happen.  If you bring a couple more vuvuzelas into the mix, all hell could break loose. And obviously, the last thing you want to do is piss off the police!!

This ban is preventing WWIII from erupting in the stadiums, short and simple.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cops - A Lesson in Prostitution

(dailymail.co.uk)

As today is the much anticipated arrival of Lindsay Lohan at a California prison, it's only fitting to report on another exciting police matter in the footballing world.

French internationals Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery are in Paris today to undergo questioning by the special prostitution brigade (what an awesome brigade) about an alleged sexual rendezvous (full story with photos here) with an underage prostitute. Back in April, the now 18 year old woman who goes by the name Zahia Dehar, told French magazine Paris Match that she had sex with a number of players on the national team. Ribery supposedly flew her out to Munich where he plays his club football for a night of passion at a hotel, while Benzema has been a regular since she was 16.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blaspheming Octopus!!

(as.com)

Apparently we're all going to hell for buying into Paul's predictions this World Cup (or some of us are).

Rabbi David Stav - the Rabbi of the small town of Shoham in Israel - has lashed out at pretty much everyone for putting their faith in the sixth sense of this creature. Rabbi Stav believes the very use of Paul goes against all aspects of Jewish law.

According to him, having Paul predict the games represented an "expression of moral bankruptcy that plagues the Western World." 

"These forms of prediction are contrary to Jewish law." 

He went on say that, "the Jewish community has been capable of cultivating the mind in the fields of science and medicine, and has reached great achievements."  Rabbi Stav is unimpressed with Paul's performance and believes that all faithful Jews should not applaud him.

Ahem. As a big ol' Jew myself, this is the biggest joke I've ever heard. I do understand where he comes from in that Paul can be perceived as a false prophet (he did correctly guess all 7 games), and we all know how the bible treats false prophets. But to accuse the West of moral ineptitude as a result of using an octopus to pick it's favorite clam is a joke!! Does this really mean that we are incapable of making intelligent decisions and predictions?! Is the entire system crumbling beneath our very feet?!?! No. I think not.

Now I have no clue which team this guy supports, and it's pretty safe to say he doesn't have one. It also looks like I have been cast ino the faithless Jews colony (it's right next door to the leper colony).

Hopefully I won't succumb to the curse of Paul or else you'll all be looking for a new site to read...

Terrible Miss

Fresh off a great World Cup, Robinho has returned home to stink it up. Most notably this past weekend when his Santos FC faced off against Fluminense:

Baby Cris-Ron

(elmundodeportivo.es)

I would be remiss not to comment on this baby maker. When you look at all the facts surrounding this episode, he truly comes out sounding like a baby maker more than a father. But lets back up to the beginning. Sometime last summer Cris-Ron was in LA dining at what seems like a below average restaurant. He fancied the waitress serving him, and after a few lame advances in his broken English, she ended up serving him in his hotel room later that night.

He knocked her up. She notified his agent that she was carrying baby Cristiano. He happily took the DNA test. Boom. Father time. Now here is where it gets exciting...

Cristiano couldn't take the risk of being embarrassed and judged by the entire world for being a male whore all the time... Um...  Not to mention the mother of his child is covered in ketchup and mustard all day pulling minimum wage at the Burger Joint (he makes about £200,000 a week). SO, he paid to keep her mouth shut and out of the news to the tune of €12 million. How can you not love this guy's ego? Knowing he is in pursuit of Wilt Chamberlain's all-time record of however many thousands of women, Cristiano has played this curve ball perfectly. By silencing the mother of his child, Cris-Ron has avoided the possibility of women denying his advances and can now continue on his quest for the holy grail.

What's that? He has a girlfriend? Correct. He has been an item with Russian underwear model Irina Shayk for about a couple months (when he realized that long distance relationships with Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian wouldn't work, he had to find new tail). And yes, she said on her facebook page that she and Cris-Ron were set to marry later this year before Christmas. But c'mon. You really think he'll be able to have sex with one woman for the rest of his life?! How is his son supposed to learn the art of seduction when his father is tied down by one woman?! There's a better chance of 2 people having sex on the moon before Cristiano stays married for an extended period of time.

I'm not sure if Cristiano has spent more than a couple days with Cristiano (you better believe his son has the same name) since he dumped the kid with his family in Potugal and immediately flew back to NYC with Irina. I am sure that he'll do one of the worst parenting jobs in history. There's no chance his son stays with him in Madrid. As for the "future wife," she's on the road just as much for photo shoots in remote corners of the world.

Hey maybe if you're lucky, he'll put out an ad for anonymous babysitters to watch his son for a cool hourly salary of "this is enough money to cover the rest of your life."

Dinho and 50 Cent

You cannot argue with Ronaldinho's ability to party. It's the main reason he is now borderline bum, having a terribly difficult time getting into shape and giving any sort of hint that he really cares about the game anymore. It's sad we only saw about 3 years of his best, but I'll save the crying game for another time.

This here is great stuff. While in Rio on vacation, Ronaldinho decided to stop by the 50 Cent concert and join him on stage. I really hate that "ole, ole.." is the official football song - at least for Americans. Who decided that? I have watched hundreds and hundreds of matches from every country imaginable and NEVER heard that sung in any stadium.

Did they arrange the outfits together? I think 50 Cent is a bit jealous that his rental jewelry doesn't stack up to Dinho's real bling bling.

After some bouncing and arm waving I love how he slips off the stage to the right...probably to find some food and more drink.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nutmegs!

Ah the nutmeg. Explanations for the word itself are endless and most make no sense to me at all. To be honest I could care less where it comes from or what it means. There is nothing better than seeing someone put the ball through another guy's legs. For the victim, it is the utmost level of embarrassment. Schooled - in the utmost sense of the word.  You are transported back to your childhood, and the bigger and more athletic boys are toying with you like a rag doll. All you can hope to do is regain your pride somehow...in most cases that means chasing down the villain and hacking him down from behind.

But in any event, here's a few examples of men quivering into boys.







Iron Mike's Pitch Debut

(Telegraph.co.uk)

Mike Tyson is in Peterborough, England today for an "Evening With Mike Tyson" at the East of England Showground. Aside from taking in a 6 course meal at a tasty Indian restaurant, he also made time for something every other normal human being would - football.

Mike showed up for Peterborough Football Club's preseason friendly against West Ham United.

"I’ve never heard of Peterborough before but as soon as I heard it was West Ham I thought, we’ve got to really give it to them," Tyson said.

Excuse me? We? Of all the teams in England, let alone the other 4 teams in London, West Ham is the team he recognizes?! Perhaps western ham tastes like Holyfield's ear so he has become a supporter of the east London club. Or maybe his lifelong regret of never having a Bar-Mitzvah has endeared him to the only club in England managed by an Israeli.

Let's cut the crap. He saw the Katy Perry photo shoot and the rest is history.




Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1294670/Mike-Tyson-surprises-diners-Peterborough-drops-curry-house-course-meal.html#ixzz0tlKUjHLA

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Iniesta's Battle Scars

Very ouch baby.

Thierry Henry Has Arrived!

Jay Mariotti and the rest of his crew on ESPN's Around the Horn are a bunch of morons. They just finished debating the impact of Thierry Henry in MLS and whether or not it would be bigger than Beckham. Not surprisingly, they brushed Henry aside like a bum on the side of the road. Claiming nobody here has any idea who he is.

Well I will not let that happen. Here's a guy who still wants to play. Yes, his work ethic was an issue this past season at Barcelona and he is well beyond his peak years, but I will guarantee you that he is going to work his ass off when he gets here. Henry could care less about face time and being on the news - all he wants to do is play. Moreover, he's coming to a country and a city that he loves. Not to mention the fact that two of his closest friends, Tony Parker and Steve Nash, are here as well. (Knicks fans - Henry is the key to Tony Parker coming here next season. I promise you.) His impact will be huge.

Beckham on the other hand is a joke. He sounds like a girl. He cares more about sticking his junk in our faces on the sides of buses and billboards. He cares more about his clothes and his cologne and being seen at every big event in Los Angeles. He is the embodiment of that city. Henry will do everything for Major League Soccer that Beckham has not. You will see him in commercials to get people to come watch the Red Bulls - promoting the sport and not himself. He'll do interviews to talk about soccer and not his side projects and aspirations to play for a national team he has no business being on.

He'll raise awareness for the sport at charity events like Steve Nash's yearly showdown in Chinatown. On the field, he will run and give 110% each game (as opposed to Beckham), he will head the ball effectively (Beckham can't do that), he will use his left foot to cross balls if need be (Beckham can't do that), and he'll probably score a couple goals (Beckham? not so much). Most importantly though, he has won everything there is to win in Europe and on the world stage. His mind will be focused here and not elsewhere. This is his new mountain to climb.

Phew. Now that we got that out there, let's celebrate!!! 

Henry highlight compilations here, here, and here. Free kicks compilation here. His kinda cute ex-wife here. Sexy over the shoulder pose from Thierry here. Photo shoot with the Red Bulls here.

Miss Argentina Gets Rejected!


Turns out not every footballer is what I thought. Miss Argentina 1999, Romina Belluscio, grabbed Spanish left-back Joan Capdevila coming off the stage the other day and asked him if he'd like to remake the famous Sara Carbonera and Iker kiss. Expecting a nice peck on the lips, Ms. Belluscio instead got a surprise as he told her no and pissed off.

Good for him. It's not every day you see footballers reject the advances of ANY woman let alone a former Miss Universe contestant. I promise you this ain't the norm...

A Final Farewell to World Cup 2010

The planet has shifted back to reality. Parties and celebrations have come to a close. With England reporting an estimated loss of $1.5-2.3 billion in productivity during the tournament, we can now all return to work and actually do work. I on the other hand, am the anomaly. Having DVR'ed every single game of this tournament, my daily goal was to avoid every game and every score (zero internet). Productivity from my end sky rocketed! My imbalance has now leveled out. After what we witnessed this past month, it would behoove international football to find its balance as well.

South Africa 2010 was a monumental tournament, because it initiated a mammoth shift in the way football is, and will be played on the international level for years to come. Sure, we bitched and moaned about the lack of goals early on. The defensive tactics, non-existent creativity, and cagey gameplans. But now that this tournament is over, and the fewest goals have been scored in years, it's pretty safe to say that this was no fluke. There are a number of causes - each with it's own ramifications on how we will see the game played out before our eyes 4 years from now in Brazil.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wrapping Up Celebrations in Spain

The moments and memories of winning a World Cup last a lifetime. In realistic terms though, it's about 24 hours. Spain's rocking fiesta came to a close at midnight yesterday. All of the players have flown home from Madrid or straight to their holiday destinations. Here's some of the best sites and sounds from the past day...

World Cup Best/Worst


The Best Names:
Siphiwe Tshabalala - South Africa - sounds like a Christmas carol
Surprise Moriri - South Africa - Surprise! You only got to play 33 minutes this tournament!
Boubacar Barry - Cameroon - Can't go wrong with alliteration
Blaise Nkufu - Switzerland - What makes this special is that it's pronounced as one word...say it with me now: blazin-kufu
Georgie Welcome - Honduras - Welcome to this list, Welcome.

The Best "Classy" Goals

These are the ones that take a bit more to appreciate. It's not always the finish, but the build up which makes a goal beautiful. A cutting through ball, one-touch passing, back heels, flicks. This is artistry at it's best, where skill and concentration trump power and determination.

Here are the classiest goals of World Cup 2010:

The Worst Misses of the World Cup

There's only 2 here. Yeh there were tons of misses from point blank range but quite frankly, nothing comes close to these 2..

Thankfully for Yakubu, Nigeria still scored a few minutes after this...


Unfortunately Asamoah Gyan and the rest of Ghana didn't have the same luxury. This is one of the worst of all time when you consider what's at stake:

The Best "Highlight Reel" Goals

These are the ones people talk about at the water cooler. The ones that make the Top 10 on Sportscenter accompanied by horrifyingly terrible mispronunciations of players' names by the anchors. The ones that result in shenanigans from the TV and radio commentators (and boy are we lucky we can watch their antics).

So, I give you my top "highlight reel" goals of the tournament (in no particular order)...

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Spain...for now


Once again, football has achieved what politicians never could. In a scene that Spain has never witnessed in all it's history, every region of the country took to the streets to celebrate as one people. Spain was one country last night - one unified people flying the same flag and supporting the same establishment. I noticed the difference immediately. Back in 2008 when Spain defeated Germany in the final of the European Championship, every player draped themselves in their own respective regional flags. Sunday evening? Not a chance. No regional flags. Only a group of 23 guys wearing La Roja with the World Cup star freshly woven above the crest.

I was anxious to see how the country would experience the game. The Catalan government in Barcelona agreed, for the first time in HISTORY, to erect a fan zone for people to watch the final - to allow the people to openly support Spain. Tens of thousands crammed Avenida Maria Cristina in front of the beautiful art museum to take in the final. The celebrations and rioting afterwards actually resulted in more arrests than any other city in the country...go figure.




What about Pais Vasco? Reports today indicate that 75% of the Basque population watched the final. In Barakaldo, Ermua, Bilbao, San Sebastian - fans took to the streets and celebrated the win.

Now I know that for many of you, your jaw isn't dropping to the floor. So let me at least try and give you an idea why this is so epic. Fans in Barakaldo were greeted with this outside their viewing party. It's not much but it just goes to show you that the 25% who didn't watch the game were protesting in some fashion. They could never support the country even in a World Cup final. To them, it was as if 2 other countries were playing for the trophy - neither of them their own.

Then of course there's Barcelona. What makes the party on Sunday so incredible is what happened on Saturday. Depending on who you ask, 60,000-1.1 million people took to the streets. Only they were there to protest a decision by the constitutional court which stripped from the Spanish constitution certain amendments that granted Catalunya the legal right to declare itself a "nation" and to privilege the Catalan language over Spanish (all the schools up until college are taught in Catalan). A day before the biggest sporting event in history, the Catalans were stripped of practically every legal right they had to consider themselves a nation within Spain. And the very next day, everything I mentioned above took place to celebrate Spain.

It's tough to put into words the fractured relationship within this country. I had hoped before the final that they would put aside their political and cultural differences and give united support to the players and the country. My wish came true. And if only for a day or two, the scenes in every plaza of every city can and will never be replicated with a treaty or a speech or a politician's agenda. Football has the ability to break down barriers where no other options are available. The power of this sport reared its head once again.

For one night in July, Spain was a united Spain.

Celebrations Outside of Spain




Washington Square Park - New York City:



Columbus Circle - New York City:



South Beach - Miami:



Los Angeles:



Madness across London:

Foreign Media is Better

Yeh we've got the National Enquirer, People Magazine, the New York Post, Perez Hilton, TMZ, and the world's best paparazzi.  And yet, for some reason, it's still a cultural faux pas to swear or show a topless woman (do you remember how big a deal it was when ER said "shit" on primetime network television for the first time in history? Were Lebron old enough we may have seen another 1 hour special to discuss it).

Queue the rest world. I just love this headline from the Argentine daily sportspaper Olé because it's just so natural and gets right to the point - why can't we have headlines like this?


"Holy Fuck. What a Champion"

A Proper Tribute

Just a quick note here about Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos' touching tributes to 2 players who were watching the match from above.
After scoring the game winner, Iniesta ripped off his jersey to reveal a heartfelt message to Dani Jarque - "Siempre con nosotros" - "Always with us." The 26 year old captain of RCD Espanyol (the other team in Barcelona), Jarque was found dead in his hotel room last year - the victim of a heart attack. It was a moment that shocked the entire country and brought the city of Barcelona together. He was also Iniesta's teammate on the Spanish under-19 and under-20 team. I don't think Andres really cared about that yellow card he received for taking his shirt off.

You will have also noticed that Sergio Ramos always looks to the sky during the Spanish national anthem (he and Jesus Navas also wore special t-shirts after the game). He looks to the sky at his childhood friend Antonio Puerta. In August 2007 the 22 year old left-back for Sevilla, who was the future of the position for Spain and would have been on the squad in South Africa, suffered a heart attack on the field during a game. After a series of more cardiac arrests over the next three days, he finally passed - leaving behind his girlfriend who was 8 months pregnant with their first child.

Spain dedicated their win to Jarque and Puerta, and did so with the class that both of those players embodied during their tragically short careers.

Beauty Defeats the Beast

(marca.com)

After 120 minutes of some of the most disgraceful football I have ever seen, especially on a platform like the World Cup final, brute force lost. Beauty and guile won. In a game that saw 14 yellow cards, horrendous tackles, and one flying kung-fu kick, Spain managed to nick another late goal to secure the ever so classy one-nil victory (their fourth on the trot).

The Dutch did everything I expected them to do. They came out and actually held good possession for the opening 10 minutes. Every Spaniard on the ball had very limited time to act. What I also expected, which unfortunately came true, were the bullying tactics. I knew - I KNEW - that Van Bommel and De Jong wouldn't make it out of this match without a yellow card each. When that final whistle blew, it was shocking both were actually still on the field. What a disgusting pair of players. Absolutely shocking disregard for the safety and well being of other people on the field. Every one of the tackles was studs up, late, from behind, or any combination of those.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Iker - Get. Your. Girl.

Poor Sara. She was thrown under the bus and made the scapegoat for Spain's opening loss to Switzerland. After all, no team had ever lost their opening game and went on to lift the World Cup. Well guess what, this tournament was a first for everything.

So afterwards, during their interview which is always so incredibly awkward to watch, Iker slapped a nice fatty on his ever so adorable girlfriend. Throw that on the front pages!  (note how super embarrassed she is afterwards)

Friday, July 9, 2010

World Cup Final Food for Thought

(that's how they roll in David Villa's hometown of Tuilla. Courtesy of Marca)

A couple snippets to get you ready for the final:

A ROYAL AFFAIR: The Spanish royal family is no stranger to football. The Queen of Spain was on hand to witness Spain defeat Germany on Wednesday (and got a great look of Carles Puyol in a towel afterwards - 1:15 into the video). Their son and his attractive princess will be joining the Queen for the final.

The Dutch show off their royal family just as proudly. Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, and his wife Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, attended the Dutch semifinal versus Uruguay. She ain't too shabby either. It's also interesting to note that she was born in Argentina and her father's family is of Basque descent. She ain't the queen yet so I think she owes her allegiance to Spain...

MORE ENGLAND BASHING: Of the 117 players from the EPL who started this tournament, only 5 are left. Coincidence? I'll let you decide...

SEXY DUTCH FANS: Here, here, and here.  Not to mention the player's arm candy.

SEXY SPANISH FANS: Here, here, and of course Iker's girlfriend

THE REFEREE: Ten things you need to know about the man who will officiate the final - Howard Webb

World Cup Final Preview

WHEN SPAIN HAVE THE BALL

Well it's obvious this will be a common sight. The question is where the weaknesses are in the Dutch defense. Gio van Bronckhorst is no Jerome Boatang of Germany who was subbed off in the 52nd minute against Spain, so attacking down the right will be a bit more difficult this time around for Sergio Ramos. I think the best bet would be the left side against Gregory van der Wiel - a 22 year old lil' baby instead of the 35 year old captain. As good as he is and will be, van der Wiel is ill prepared for the mental discipline needed to defend against the movements of Pedro (if he starts), Iniesta, and Villa.

Busquets and Xabi Alonso will need to help Xavi more than they have in previous games. Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong are two big and very physical midfielders who will surely smother anything that enters the center circle. In order to free up Xavi, he cannot be forced to come back too deep to receive the ball. Meaning, Busquets and/or Alonso will need to push up a bit farther to provide a little wiggle room for the maestro. Allow Xavi to get closer to the forwards where he can send that killer pass into the box. Otherwise, the Dutch midfield will squeeze him out.

Lastly, that free flowing movement up front will be key once again...assuming Pedro gets the start. Pedro and Iniesta switching from right to left and vice versa will keep the Dutch defense on edge. Villa will have to be a different player than he is when Torres plays, but the gaps will be there for him. This Dutch defense is a tad inferior to the Germans, which should bode well for the men up front. I want to say that because it's a final, many goals will be necessary to win. However, with this team we know that isn't the case. Score first - that's the most important.

WHEN THE NETHERLANDS HAVE THE BALL

Which will be sparse. However, they have the key to unlock that high defensive line the Spanish play, and his name is Wesley Sneijder. The second best midfielder on the planet only needs a split second to turn and release a devastating ball behind the back 4. I would expect Ramos and Capdevila to push up as they have all tournament from their defensive positions. That will leave TONS of space to exploit on the counter. Ramos has always been faulted for being caught out of position so Dirk Kuyt will have plenty of open space to run at on the left side. As for Robben on the right, whether it's open space or simply a one-on-one (perhaps Capdevila will be a bit less adventurous knowing the threat he leaves open behind him), he is MUCH quicker than Capdevila and should have no problem beating him.

Going through the middle won't work. We have all seen how relatively boring this Dutch team has been, lacking any sort of fluidity and creativity. The middle is going to be a war zone of tackling and it would be best to spread the Spanish lines and give themselves as much room to operate as possible.

Have a go from distance. Although Casillas is coming off his best game between the posts, he is still not the same keeper he was 2 years ago. The Dutch players should give him an early run-around and see if they can capitalize on any howlers. As for their central striker, I expect Van Persie to be a non factor again. He's drifted off many times this tournament and has been almost as inept as Fernando Torres. Now he's going to try and conjure up some confidence to go at Pique and Puyol? Don't see it happening.

PREDICTION
I've heard certain loonies claim that this Spain is boring to watch. After breaking down the argument, it ultimately centered on the lack of goals they are scoring. In response to that, someone said that compared to 2 years ago, "It's almost like they've gone too far." And I can see what he's saying. They have mastered this style of football to such an extent that they are are content with a different style of winning. 3, 4, 5 goals aren't needed anymore. The defense has gotten better, possession has been easier to hold, they get the ball back quicker than they used to, 1 goal is more than enough. It's a scary thought, but one that you have to admire. There is absolutely nothing boring about watching a team so comfortable in their style of play, break down an opposing team bit by bit. It's like a clinic in cruel and unusual punishment, knowing that death blow lies in wait somewhere.

I don't want to completely minimize the chances for this Dutch team to win, because they will have their chances. Whether or not they cash them in is a different matter altogether. The Germans were the team that had the deadliest combination of counter attacks this tournament that could unseat the Spanish and it simply didn't work. Yes, the Dutch will more than likely pressure the ball and not allow them as much time as the Germans did. But remember, no team applies more pressure on the ball than the Spanish! So when the Dutch get it, they'll need to be quick and incisive. They haven't shown that to date and there's no reason for me to believe they will now.

The better team will win the this game. The best team in this tournament will lift the trophy.

2-1 to Spain. Viva España.

Paul the Octopus Picks Spain



In case you've been on a different planet, that nasty creature has been picking games for Germany the entire World Cup. To date, he has correctly picked each of Germany's 6 matches, win or lose. Based at the Sea Life Aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen, Paul was set lose this morning and settled with the Spanish mussel.

The Spanish environment and fisheries minister, Elena Espinosa, added, "On Monday, I shall be at the European Council of Ministers and I shall be asking for a [fishing] ban on Paul the octopus so the Germans do not eat him." I really don't think she's half joking...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Bigger Picture in Spain


















"It's not always easy for a Barcelona player to be a symbol of Spain," remarked Martin Tyler after Carles Puyol sent Spain to the finals. Forget the fact that he plays for Barcelona, he's Catalan.

For decades, Spain has been a fractured society. Made up of about 19 autonomous regions, each one treats itself as separate from Spain. They all claim to speak their own language. Yes, it's all Spanish with different dialects, but go to Sevilla and they'll tell you they speak Andalucian. Go to A Coruña and they speak Galician. Even within the Catalan regions, people in Valencia speak Valencian, not Catalan.

Football has been no different. Athletic Bilbao has been around since 1898, and in that time they have ONLY fielded Basque players on their team. No Spaniards, no Catalans, no islanders. Basque only. The rivalry between Madrid and Barcelona gets caught up in so much politics that you forget there's even a game going on. It goes all the way up to the national team - where for years Raul stood tall in the locker room. A proud Madridista who wasn't shy about his political orientation, he often prevented the team from gelling as a cohesive unit. He intimidated newcomers, and made any outsider feel very uncomfortable. The team was split into many small groups of players. It's no surprise they choked in every single tournament, and then won the first chance they got when Raul was dropped.

Running of the Bulls - Day 2

















This has absolutely nothing to do with the World Cup whatsoever, but it's still one of the coolest festivals on the planet. And when you've got some down time before Sunday's final, why not take a little jog in Pamplona? Don't worry PETA people, I'm not condoning the fighting nor are there any videos of it here. It's just a bunch of bulls running through town!

Today featured the bulls of Cebada Gago. After yesterday's flawless run, this one was a biiittt nastier.  Video this way.

Storylines for the Final















Come Sunday, two great footballing nations will meet to decide this year's World Cup champion. On the surface, it is quite easy to see what's at stake - a first ever World Cup trophy for either nation. Dig a little deeper, though, and some fascinating sub plots add plenty of spice to this match-up.

Reaction in Spain

How they heard it:




How they witnessed it in Madrid:

A Por La Final


Complete domination. There's no other way to put it. For starters, I was completely wrong in assuming this wouldn't be a repeat of the Euro Cup Final. It ended up being more or less the same exact thing! Same scoreline. Same mammoth possession for the Spanish. Same German tactics to sit back and absorb pressure rather than pressing and giving little time for their opponents to operate. And go figure, the goal that did it wasn't a smooth pass, a quick 1-2, nor any form of art that we would expect from Spain. Instead we got a powerful header from the rock at the back off of a corner kick - perhaps the most UN-Spanish way you'll ever see them score.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Semifinal Preview #2

















Los Peñajara, who haven't run in Pamplona since 1998 kicked off the second day of the San Fermín festival. A clean run with very minimal injuries kicked off a day which everyone hopes will end with the ceremonial death of their counterparts (see the entire run here). A couple thousand miles to the south, another Spanish fury is readying themselves for the "game of their lives" as one Spanish newspaper put it. In their way stand the Germans - a historical clinic in efficiency - who have lit up some of the world's best so far. Don't expect a repeat of the Euro 2008 final which saw the Spaniards suffocate their opponents with a score of 1-0.

Dutch Motivation

As if winning your first ever World Cup wasn't enough motivation in and of itself.

Bobbi Eden, a Dutch pornstar, has promised on her twitter page to folate the entire team and her followers, together with some of her "actress" friends, should the Dutch win the World Cup.

C'mon Holland!!











(courtesy of Marca)

How the Dutch fans experienced the goals

Probably the coolest thing of yesterday's game was the unbelievable fan zones which were set up in each country. 80,000 people (it sure looked like more) packed Amsterdam's Museumplein while thousands more crammed into the city center of Montevideo. Here's how they took it all in...

Orange Crush

















For the third time in their history, and the first since 1978, the Netherlands will make an appearance in the World Cup Final seeking their first ever victory. In a game that provided thrills, hard tackles, and some incredible goals, the South American continent bowed out to a better, stronger European team. You can argue that missing players, notably Suarez and Lugano and some creative midfielders, would have made a difference for La Celeste. However, with plenty of chances of their own, luck finally sided with the Dutch forcing them to extend their stay in South Africa through the weekend (they only made hotel reservations through the 5th).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Goal of the tournament?

Watch it about 10 times and let me know what you think. It's a nominee for top spot right now. Villa still has a shot at it. But for now, enjoy the magic of Gio's volley. Always rising. Always moving away from the goalie. And juuust past the outstretched fingertips of Muslera.

Simply a thing of beauty.

Semifinal Preview #1













(ESPN Soccernet)

That lasting image of Uruguay's passage to this game will forever scar this tournament. It has opened up the discussion of whether or not to allow penalty goals in a situation like that (and why on earth he wasn't suspended for the rest of the tournament), but we can save that argument for a later date. The fact remains that Uruguay have played their way into this semi-final with grit and determination. The same can be said about their counterparts in the Netherlands, whose free-flowing attack has been absent the past few weeks, making way for some hard nosed football and goals in the unlikeliest of manners.

Aesthetics may want to avoid this game and wait until Wednesday because both these teams will do us no favors...

Naked Promise #4



















We've reached our fourth naked promise of the World Cup!! Just to jog your memory, it all started when Maradona promised to run through the streets of Buenos Aires butt naked (eeek) should Argentina win the World Cup. That was followed up by a twitter post from Luciana Salazar who threw her set into the fold and offered to join Maradona on his birthday suit jog.
 
The magic third came from the MVP of this entire tournament - Ms. Larissa Riquelme - who's cleavage antics for Paraguay have given the entire world something to drool over for the past few weeks.
 
Now comes the fourth. With only 4 teams remaining, luckily one of them is South American, a new hero has flashed onto the scene. Mónica Farro (pictured above) says she will strut her stuff should Uruguay win two more games to lift the World Cup trophy for the third time in their history.
 
With so much anti-WAG sentiment pervading through Europe both before and during the tournament, at least the South Americans realize that a little TLC for their players can only help during a grueling tournament such as this one. Sure only 1 of the 4 teams got out of the quarterfinals...but look how well they did up to that point! Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lard-inho













DO NOT tell me that this guy's presence at the World Cup would have made a difference for Brazil. To be honest, as a fan, it sucks seing Ronaldinho like this. It's sucks that he doesn't have the inspiration to compete and perform like he once did. It sucks that he cares more for the nightlife than for life on the pitch. It sucks that he peaked for only about 3 years in a career dating back to 1998.

But, no need for frowns. We've still got all of this...and this....and this to be thankful for. I just wish there was more coming.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

America!! F**k Yeh!!

Happy July 4th everyone! Surely you're all out and about drinking and making mistakes. But while I have a few minutes to rest my sprained ankle, I thought I'd pay homage to this great nation with some of the best we've had to offer in our footballing history.

Starting with, of course, Donovan's winner. This montage will probably give me goosebumps until the day I die.



This next video will take you from the glory of our 1950 win versus England up to the mammoth upset of Spain in the Confederations Cup last summer.

Sheer Ecstasy

Many of us are used to our broadcasters having their own comfy little booths or suites at the stadiums to call the big games. Your own cameras, your own assistants etc.  However, with 32 teams at this tournament and an entire planet stopping in their tracks for each game, clearly there's nowhere near enough personal broadcasting booths. 

So they throw them all into a mosh pit of sorts - scores of different languages and personalities screaming and moaning at the top of their lungs one next to the other.  This is how the two men covering Spain's Telecinco broadcast called it. The guy on the left is José Antonio Camacho - manager of Osasuna who play in Pamplona (running of the bulls).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Big Man on Campus


















Does anyone else see a problem with this picture? A good friend of mine just got back from her honeymoon in Costa Rica and snapped this photo in the small village of Tortuguero, which boasts approximately 500 people. Located on the Caribbean and only accessible by boat, football is obviously the sport of choice. Especially at this elementary school during recess.

This kinda reminds me of an old Western movie when the sheriff roles into town sitting high on his horse... time slowing to a standstill as onlookers gawk at this angelic figure.

I mean look at this kid! Sneakers, dark blue denim jeans, leather belt (I can only imagine how enormous the buckle is), a clean and unwrinkled white collared shirt tucked in without the faintest hint of dirt anywhere. And of course...GOALIE GLOVES. What's great is that this kid wasn't even playing goalie! See those poor barefoot chaps in the background with the hand-me-down clothes? It was unfortunately their job to play goalie. And from what I hear, they were ripped to shreds.

And the pose is perfect...standing on that ball with a sense of arrogance as if to say, "there's no way in hell you're ever getting this ball." If this isn't school bullying I don't know what is.

(Thanks to Jordan and Rachel for providing this wonderful look into Central American football culture)