The England World Cup Draw Preview & Banter of the Bile Variety

England qualified for the World Cup, but, based on October’s FIFA rankings, are unseeded. Thus, they face the very real prospect of a “Group of Death.” We don’t know what the future holds, but here is a close approximation, in style if not in substance, of the Three Lions’ fate. Continue reading “The England World Cup Draw Preview & Banter of the Bile Variety” »

The Real Madrid-Barcelona Clasico Preview by Subtraction

Don’t you just hate previews that tell what will happen? We all know that no human knows the future. However, we do know the past. Or at least we like to think we do. Thus, in anticipation of this weekend’s juicy clash, I’ve analyzed over a hundred past clasicos and key moments.

I have then performed addition by subtraction. I will tell you what will not happen. You can figure out the rest. Continue reading “The Real Madrid-Barcelona Clasico Preview by Subtraction” »

The Beauty of Soccer, No Strings Attached

Cascarear. Pichanga. Pick-up. Park soccer. What do those terms mean? If you play soccer, you know what I’m talking about. They are soccer in its rawest, most basic form. With a ball and makeshift goal, you’ve got a game with two or more folks. Shoes. Bags. Backpacks. Shirts. Anything can serve as a goal. The key is a few inanimate objects, a round inanimate object, and a friend.

Yet this unique cultural event deserves more praise and more analysis. Continue reading “The Beauty of Soccer, No Strings Attached” »

Arsenal & Arsene: Laughing in our Faces, At Least for Now

For the last nine years, I’ve admired Arsenal from afar for both aesthetic and analytic reasons. Aesthetically, they were the Platonic ideal of beauty in football. The defenders and goalkeeper passed, the midfielders played sideways passes, and the forwards couldn’t be bothered to press off the ball. They didn’t win a trophy and that was the point: this was a team beyond results. Silverware would only soil the ideal. You can only stand so much success before you start to feel dirty.

Analytically, each season they raised the same argument to explain a lack of titles: basically, financial prudence today, future success tomorrow. Any close student of politics will know how unsuccessful this argument normally is: you are better off supplying a dose of instant gratification to the masses if you want to stay in power (at least for the short-term). That’s why Arsenal’s argument, their recurrent story of an ant amassing food while grasshoppers squandered the summer away, impressed me. Are people really buying this, I thought?

Even smart Arsenal fans started to get fed up (especially after they unexpectedly sold Song). You can only promise the future so many times. I anticipated two hysterical (if cynical) ends to the Arsene era: the club fails to qualify for the Champions League and their financial house of cards falls to pieces, or Arsene coyly waits for the last year of his contract before demanding a transfer to Barcelona.

In that vain, last season I made the obligatory “top of the (preseason) table” Arsenal joke. This season, though, an odd thing has occurred. We are now entering October and….Arsenal is top of the table. How has this happened? And what does it mean for Platonic ideals? Continue reading “Arsenal & Arsene: Laughing in our Faces, At Least for Now” »

My Belated EPL Season Preview that Focuses Solely on Luis Suarez

Yes, the EPL started a few weeks ago. However, you don’t really read “season previews” expecting a glimpse of the future. You read them for pure entertainment value. You are excited by the EPL, and just want a bunch of blocks of letters, sometimes forming words and even sentences, that mention EPL clubs and players. Admit it.

Thus, this belated season preview exclusively about Luis Suarez is just for you. Continue reading “My Belated EPL Season Preview that Focuses Solely on Luis Suarez” »

The Curse of the MLS Cup

MLS has lived for less than two decades. While the recent wave of expansion has paid homage to US soccer’s NASL roots, trophies, stories, and anecdotes from that era have fallen into a black hole. They certainly are not to be seen as MLS soccer-specific stadia. Sporting KC’s stadium is lovely, but makes no mention of the KC Spurs (or their title). Thus, the short history of MLS lacks many of the intrigue and mystery a fan derives from, say, the Red Sox’s old (and now antiquated) “Curse of the Bambino.”

However, this last MLS cup was not all smiles, after parties, and Landon Donovan stubble sightings. Lurking in the shadows, tragedy struck. Continue reading “The Curse of the MLS Cup” »

Real Madrid v. Atletico de Madrid – the Preview that Only Talks about Barcelona

Life isn’t always easy as your preferred niche blogger that spews sarcastic jokes about a multinational conglomerate that parades itself as a soccer playing entity. Sometimes, we get ahead of ourselves. Sometimes, we overreact. Sometimes, we suffer cerebral fatigue. Sometimes, instead of thinking about the game at hand, we ponder about mathematics and formulas and spend all night constructing an algorithm for Madrid winning La Liga based on a probable result between Rayo Vallecano and Levante.

Often, instead of addressing the team we face, we suffer thinking of the team behind us. Barcelona. Four points. Not ten points. Four. Six less. Less than half. Oh, and Atletico de Madrid. Continue reading “Real Madrid v. Atletico de Madrid – the Preview that Only Talks about Barcelona” »

Explaining Why Messi & Argentina May Never Win Again

Messi has won every possible tournament at his club, FC Barcelona. Argentina regularly produces world class soccer players that excel in Europe. Argentina has also won two World Cups. So, the question arises: why hasn’t the pulga lifted any trophies with the albiceleste?

Theories abound. Some claim that Messi relies on the midfield brilliance of Barcelona players Xavi and Iniesta. Others point to generational talent gaps in his national team. A decade ago, Argentina rode a wave of creative midfielders with Veron, Riquelme, and Aimar. Now, however, they feast on forwards like Tevez, Aguero, and Higuain. This lack of balance complicates team formations, especially since Ever Banega plays enganche about as well as he sets his parking brake. Some point to the long shadow of Diego Maradona. The pulga cannot escape the legacy of the pibe diez, they speculate.

All these theories are quaint. They are also wrong. Why? Because they are myopic. The soccer universe has constructed an elaborate lexicon and discourse to explain itself, yet this closed system chokes off alternative explanations. Messi, and Argentina, won’t win anything for the foreseeable future and it has nothing to do with soccer. Allow me to explain. Continue reading “Explaining Why Messi & Argentina May Never Win Again” »

Real Madrid v. Barcelona Preview: Vampires vs. Werewolves vs. Cowboys vs. Aliens vs. Predator

For the last year’s Champions League quarterfinal, we speculated that Barcelona just may embody the spirit of a high school full of vampires. We were pretty close in the comparison and the prediction. Ultimately, despite solid Arsenal resistance, the Cules drove a stake through their hearts.

But the Clasico exceeds in self-appointed grandiosity any old run-of-the-mill Champions League quarterfinal clash. Thus, flash forward several months and add millions of dollars to the movie’s budget. Plot-wise, the vampires have since graduated from high school. They and their werewolf double agent allies have plotted to take over a small pioneer town by the name of Bernabo Bay. Only one thing can stop them: Cowboys. And one more thing: Aliens. And one last thing: Predator. Continue reading “Real Madrid v. Barcelona Preview: Vampires vs. Werewolves vs. Cowboys vs. Aliens vs. Predator” »

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – the Predictions to Bet a House On

I will keep this short and sweet in the interest of time. FIRST and foremost, Xavi’s hair will look like an iguana. No, I don’t refer to that pet iguana you had in grade school that eventually died because you forgot to plug in the hot rock. No, I refer to some sort of wickedly cool animated iguana who wears a Hawaiian t-shirt, travels by skateboard, constantly gives the thumbs up, and endorses a variety of delicious fruit-tasting snacks which contain little to no fruit.

SECOND and also quite importantly, Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets will continue their perpetual audition for the Catalan tumbling team. Somewhere in the stands at the Nou Camp, a man in a trench coat and with a mischievously large mustache will write on a small notepad numerical scores for their respective tumbles. At the end of the night, only one of them will be selected for this elite honor. And the other will be heartbroken.

THIRD and also kinda important, Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will fool you into thinking that they shake hands. However, in reality, their hands will get super super close but not actually touch. It will be more of a close-to-touching-hand-vibration with more wobbling than actual shaking. Mourinho may also wear a special hand colored glove just to be safe. Continue reading “Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – the Predictions to Bet a House On” »