Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Biggest Sigh of Relief in Athens since the Battle of Salamis

Hooliganpalooza has been averted, thanks to Milan 3 United 0. A few thoughts:

1. Yet again, I want to take this opportunity to thank Milan and United for coming to play as opposed to the trench warfare eyesore that was 210 minutes of Chelsea and Liverpool.

2. United fans will undoubtedly point to the injuries that their team suffered in central defense and they have a point. Wes Brown was twice to blame for the second goal and the recently healed Nemanja Vidic was routinely skinned by Kaka, although one wonders whether Kaka would have done the same to a healthy Vidic. Kaka is sitting on top of the world right now in the estimation of most observers, having wrested the title of best player on the planet from Cristiano Ronaldo in decisive fashion. Then again, momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher, so maybe Steven Gerrard isn't exiled to the right flank in the final and he reminds us of his own talent. To get back to the injury issue, United have a point, but on the other hand, Milan also played a back-up central defender for 135 minutes of the tie. More importantly, they can point to this fact: they were 5-1 winners when Gattuso was on the pitch and 0-2 when he was hurt in the second half of the first leg. Speaking of Rino...

3. It's a full crush on my part now. As I said last week, I'm a sucker for players who are defensively critical and who represent the emotional heart of their teams, hence my affection for Puyol for Barca over their attacking stars. The true fan always loves Gattuso or Puyol or Roy Keane or Patrick Viera. Gattuso was an absolute titan tonight, a perfect illustration of the importance of a defensive midfielder. He closed down Ronaldo's runs time and again, then started the Milan attacks with smart passes. He dominated the game without scoring a goal or getting an assist. He didn't even have to get dirty to be so effective. And to boot, he got all Keane-ish at the end when Paul Scholes screwed with him. In an alley fight instead of a football match, Scholes would be missing an eyeball right now after Rino sucked it out. I'm going to have to resist the urge to buy a Gattuso jersey on Ebay in the next week.

Screw with this guy at your peril.

By the way, Seamus Malin latched onto Gattuso's importance in a way that Tommy Smyth never did. There's a knowing air to Malin's commentary that just draws me in. I have no idea why he's on ESPN's #2 team, except that this is ESPN we're talking about and schtick will always win out over substance.

4. I never thought I'd say this, but Marco van Basten is an absolute fool if he doesn't recall Clarence Seedorf, who is playing at a higher level than I've ever seen from him. I've never liked Seedorf in the Oranje because he's failed to deliver for the Dutch time and again, but he's on fire right now. More importantly, he's an attacking midfielder who can pass the ball, which is what Holland lacked at the last World Cup. If I could dream for a minute that Marco and an in-form van Nistlerooy patched things up, couldn't the Dutch do very well with a van Persie - van Nistlerooy - Seedorf front line? Clarence might even oblige us with something like this:

The only Madrid goal I'll ever post here.

5. I really hope that this guy pops back in for a visit:

Anonymous said...
I hope you enjoyed watching Manchester United destroy Roma. Maybe you should wait for the second match before speaking up because you don't know jack sh*t about football and never will.


Kiss Roma's ass! They're just a bunch of losers as you are! Next time hope of shutting the f*ck up before hoping to see Manchester getting beaten by a bunch of wimps. Especially from a Barca fan.

The Cup is ours for the taking.

If by "Cup," you meant "F.A. Cup," then by all means, you're right.


Kanu said...

Seamus is great- I can remember him doing color on MISL games {yeah, dude, you remember that little guy Tatu who would take his shirt off and throw it into the crowd after each goal, right?} on ESPN when I was a little kid with JP Dellacamra doing the play by play, and I have really liked and respected him ever since.

In 1996 when I got to work for ACOG in Athens and has lots of cool behind the scenes access during the footy medal rounds, I ran into Seamus. I approached him and told him that I had been watching him do soccer games since I was a little kid and he did MISL, and that I really enjoyed his work. He was very nice, a gentleman, and he signed my FIFA Fair Play horrendous yellow T shirt with a green Sharpie and "thanks for watching" above his siggy. Top bloke.

Also, agreed that he is better than Tommeh, who has really been off his game this year.

But Tommehs accent sure beats Seamus'...

Anonymous said...

As a MUFC fan I'm really disappointed at the result - no injury excuses from me. Injuries are a part of the game and we're it not for Chelsea injuries during the holidays we wouldn't be winning the league. I thought we'd have a difficult time last night and didn't really think we'd pull it off but I never thought I'd see them play such unorganized uninspired football. I saw Carricks name mentioned in the starting line up but never saw him on the pitch.

Last night really tarnishes the two trophies to come.

Completely agree with your comments on Malin. He's been one of the best for sometime. I even enjoy his work more than many of the european announcers.

Fanatico_Apasionado said...
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Michael said...

I wouldn't dream of claiming that Seedorf is anywhere close to van Basten, who was the second-best Dutch player of all-time behind Cruyff before the knee injury felled him. I was saying that Seedorf is playing at the highest level of Seedorf's career.