We Are The Champions (Of A Meaningless Pre-Season Tournament)

Last night, Manchester United won the Guinness International Champions Cup – or the Guinness Cup, asguinness cup television commentators are instructed to call it – even though the team isn’t actually a champion. Liverpool, which lost 3-1 to United in the ICC final, isn’t a champion either. In fact, of the eight teams that entered the tournament, only three won trophies last season.

This obvious inconsistency left Fox, the network that broadcast yesterday’s final, with a difficult task: to convince viewers that the game really meant something, that it was more than just an excuse for a pre-season fireworks show. JP Dellacamera pointed out that as the players lined up in the tunnel, they eschewed pre-match greetings and instead stared straight ahead, focussed on the job at hand. Keith Costigan kept insisting that the match represented Javier Hernandez’s last chance to impress Louis van Gaal before next week’s cuts. And Warren Barton touched on the same themes – bravery, spirit, intensity – that animate his analysis (if “animate” and “analysis” are even the right words) of the Champions League.

It was both kind of sad and kind of funny. It was, in short, vintage Fox.

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Join In For The Hat Trick’s FPL Mini-League

Last month, in an article about the return of the official Fantasy Premier League game, I promised an In For fantasy plThe Hat Trick mini-league.

Well, here you go: Log onto the Premier League website, type in the mini-league code 831717-201538, and join me for a season of frustration.

Let’s all be mediocre together.

 

Cristiano vs. Dude from RI: Who Is The True CR7?

Cristiano Ronaldo has spent the last decade speeding past international defenders. But now, according to cr7Reuters, he may finally have encountered an insurmountable obstacle: United States trademark law. Rhode Island-based entrepreneur Christopher Renzi says he trademarked Ronaldo’s CR7 moniker in 2009, and he’s suing in federal court to prevent JBS Textile Group, the company that manufactures Ronaldo’s clothing line, from selling CR7-branded underwear in the US.

Renzi also has a clothing line, but he’s best known for his exercise app, the “CR7 Workout,” which he promises will get you in shape in just a matter of weeks – so that “when your friends challenge you to do 50 push-ups, you can say…‘No sweat!’”

Interesting. I know of a different Ronaldo who might benefit from Renzi’s fitness regime…

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Public Relations Gott

Bastian Schweinsteiger has taken to Facebook to apologize for singing a few lyrics from a profane Bayern Munich schweinifan chant at a party to which at least one guest brought a smartphone.

In a video that surfaced over the weekend, Schweinsteiger stands on a chair, claps his hands, and leads a rousing chorus of “BVB, sons of bitches.” Then some people in the background start chanting, “Bastian Schweinsteiger, fussball Gott,” and the camerawork quickly deteriorates. Which is a shame, because I would love to know whether Schweinsteiger joined in the second chant. Did he, after drunkenly insulting Borussia Dortmund, proclaim himself a soccer God? Sadly, we’ll never find out.

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A Sad Day For Bojan Krkic

Earlier today, Bojan Krkic – the all-time leading scorer in Barcelona’s vaunted youth academy, the wunderkind who bojanused to play alongside Lionel Messi – signed for Stoke City. “Anyone who knows European football will be aware of him as a player,” Stoke manager Mark Hughes said. “The fact that he sees his future at Stoke City is really exciting.” Personally, I think it’s a little depressing that Bojan, whose once-promising career fizzled during his recent stint in Serie A, has ended up at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke is no longer the place where good football goes to die – to be honest, I wish it still were – but it remains a less-than-attractive destination for players who aren’t desperate. Put it this way: I doubt Bojan had even heard of Stoke in the days when he regularly scored goals like this one.

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Bebe’s Set To Leave United–And About Time, Too

Louis van Gaal’s decision to leave Bebe – the Portuguese winger Sir Alex Ferguson bought for nearly bebe wolveseight million pounds in 2010 – out of Manchester United’s 25-man pre-season squad marks the beginning of the end of one of the strangest Old Trafford careers in recent history. For those of you who haven’t kept up with developments on the Bebe front, here’s a quick summary of his first two years at United.

  • August 2010: United signs him for only slightly less than what Real Madrid will pay for Mesut Ozil a few days later. Early reports indicate Sir Alex has never seen him play. Early reports also indicate he once participated in the Homeless World Cup. Early reports turn out to be right about Sir Alex but wrong about the Homeless World Cup.
  • November 2010: He produces what one YouTube user later terms the “Bebe Crossing Show” during a Premier League match against Wolves.
  • June 2011: He signs a season-long loan deal with Besiktas, then breaks his leg and misses most of the season.
  • March 2012: He returns from injury in time to appear in a league game against Istanbul Belediyespor.
  • April 2012: He breaches a strict 2:30 a.m. curfew, and the Besiktas coach kicks him off the team.
  • December 2012: He scrapes past Alexander Buttner in the 2012 Manchester United Christmas Challenge. This hard-fought victory remains the highlight of his United career.

To be fair, since then Bebe has scored a reasonable number of goals during loan spells in the Portuguese league, probably because the Christmas Challenge boosted his confidence. He is expected to sign for Benfica any day now. I hope, for the sake of the Benfica fans who sit behind each goal, that someone in Portugal teaches him how to cross.

This Article Does Not Contain Fantasy Premier League Tips

The official Fantasy Premier League game has returned for the new season. This is not necessarily goodfpl news.

This year, the opening day of the fantasy football season, which always kicks off long before any actual teams take the field, marks an important milestone in the transition from the high drama of the World Cup to the rather less dramatic mid-July horse-trading of the summer transfer window. (The online football community seems to think that this transition should be carefully stage-managed, lest anyone suffer the psychological letdown that can accompany the end of major tournaments.) Earlier this week, Germany beat Argentina in the World Cup final; the memory of Gotze’s winning goal is still fresh, and pictures of German players consuming alcohol in interesting ways are still surfacing on the Internet. And yet the Fantasy Premier League is already open for business. For better or worse, it’s time to move on.

Continue reading

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For Better Or Worse, It’s That Time Of Year

The ink has barely dried on the media’s last few attempts to make sense of the joint goal-iest World enner valenciaCup of all time, and football fans are already moving on. The tournament was terrific (9.25 out of 10, according to Sepp Blatter), but let’s be real here — July is all about the summer transfer window.

Yesterday, Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia, whose gravity-defying leaps made him a star in Brazil, underwent a medical at West Ham; he’s expected to sign a contract later this week. In other words, while the rest of us reveled in Germany’s midfield dynamism and Holland’s speedy counterattacks, Sam Allardyce spent the last month scouting the South American Andy Carroll. Welcome back to the Premier League, everybody. Welcome back.

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David Brooks on Soccer, Baseball and Life

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks wrestles with one of the most fundamental questions of our time: “Is life more brookslike baseball, or is it more like soccer?” Brooks makes a couple of reasonably good points about soccer – that winning is all about controlling space, that the sport doesn’t lend itself to statistical analysis – and then quickly transitions to his usual faux-philosophical rambling. The article contains classic Brooks-ian pronouncements like “awareness of the landscape of reality is the highest form of wisdom” and “genius is in practice perceiving more than the conscious reasoning.” It is monumentally stupid. Enjoy! 

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Grading ESPN’s World Cup Coverage

I’ve written a review of ESPN’s World Cup coverage for Deadspin.world cup coverage

ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 World Cup received widespread acclaim, both from lay viewers experiencing soccer for the first time and from hardcore fans desperate for a Marcelo Balboa-less tournament. This year, ESPN has followed a similar formula, with largely positive results. 

Read the rest of the piece here. 

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