Evil Vs. Evil

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008, 12:53 pm

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Two of the cruelest dictatorships in the history of mankind locked in a struggle of unimaginable violence and horror. That so many millions had to suffer because of the megolomania and viciousness of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin and their dread minions is enough to make one question the existence of God.

And today is an event that at least approximates the nightmare and apocalyptic evil of the Nazi-Soviet war. Yes, Manchester United is playing Chelsea for the Champions League title.

As an Arsenal supporter today’s final is pretty nauseating. On the one hand you have Man U, helmed by the lemony Sir Alex Ferguson and led by Cristiano Ronaldo, a superstar whose name will always be linked to one of the all-time greats–Greg Louganis. Chelsea is owned by Russian plutocrat Roman Abramovich, who passed on buying France or Australia and decided to spend his oil-soaked coin ruining European football. Over the last few years he’s brought in scores of big-name players, had many of them waste their time sitting on the bench, and did nothing as Chelsea played a brand of footie that could generously be called "negative".

I live-blogged the last 2 Champions League finals and I may do the same today, partly out of spite, partly because I feel like getting out of the house and going for a beer. I’ll do some work, have a couple, and hopefully see a 7-6 splatterfest that will shatter the confidence of at least six players a side.


UPDATE: OK, I probably won’t be live-blogging this exactly, but I’ll try to post a few amusing lines here and there. The pitch looks OK…until they show a close-up of a player. Then you see the nicks and divots. I think they said that rain is possible during the game, which would make for a drab, dreary affair. Perfect.

Usually when I watch two teams I dislike play each other I naturally gravitate toward one or the other. Sometimes self-interest decides my allegiance–when the Cowboys play the Raiders I root for Dallas, since Oakland is in our conference and, in theory, a Raider loss could help the Steelers. Piitsburgh doesn’t have an NBA team but the only pro team I really don’t like are the Lakers, so I greet your typical NBA tilt with an ambivalent "Meh".

But right now I’m not rooting for Man U or Chelsea. I just want to see goals. Spectacle. And, of course, I want to see Blood.

UPDATE 2: I asked for blood and I get it! Makalele and Scholes contest a high ball, elbows are thrown, and Scholes has a crimson face to match his ginger hair. From the one replay I thought he was the one delivering the telling blow, but he got the worst of it. Was Makalele thrown off? I don’t think so, think he got away with a yellow card. In the NHL that’s four minutes for drawing blood.

UPDATE 3: Goal, Ronaldo! The pretty Portugese rose for a header at the far post and cooly nodded it past the benighted and behelmeted Cech. A clinical finish for one of the greatest players in the world. Odd to think that, had Ronaldo been born in Saskatchawan, he would’ve lasted about 7 seconds on the ice before a quintet of pissed-off farm boys bludgened him to death for his preening and diving. They are different games, are they not.

UPDATE 4: Ballack charges Ferdinand on a ball near the box and nearly forces Rio into a very embarassing own goal, as it appeared at the time that Ballack was playing leapfrog with the United defender, if you get my drift. That would’ve made for a memorable poster.

And while I’m typing this Cech makes a big save on a screamah from Carrack. They just showed Avram Grant on the bench–is it a rule that football managers must ALWAYS look miserable? True, his team is down 1-0 and Chelsea fans started screaming for his scalp a month before he took the job, but the guy is a living advertisment for TUMS.

Mmm…pale ale and buffalo chicken sandwich.

UPDATE 5: Goal, Lampard! A long shot clanged off a United defender and Lampard charged into the box like a baby antelope who learned to run about 5 seconds previous and blasted the ball into the net. Van der Saar did his flailing best but the game is tied and Avram Grant, looking so very, very gray, leaps out of his seat to celebrate.

Caravalho is booked for whacking Ronaldo. A foul, but Ronaldo’s histrionics upon contact I think sold the card. Ronaldo was no doubt jealous of the acting job Lampard did a few minutes earlier when he was strong-armed by Ferdinand and went down as if shot by a gunman hiding behind a grassy knoll.

A question–besides Vinnie Jones, are there any footballers who made the transition from pitch to stage? Because they do a hell of a lot of acting out there. Gordon Ramsey, I suppose, is something of an actor. Craig Charles, who starred in the britcom Red Dwarf, played for Tranmere before becoming a comic.

We’ve reached half-time. Break out the oranges. Or, perhaps, the beer. Oh, there you are!

UPDATE 6: My bad. I didn’t see that before the save Cech made on Carrack he stopped a short-range header from Tevez. The Chelsea defender then properly garnished the ball and served it on a platter to Carrack at the top of the box, and with the entire net wide open he blasted it right at the keeper.

A bit after that Rooney (he’s playing today?) crossed a ball into the area and both Makalele and Tevez whiffed on the sitter. These are the best teams in the world?

UPDATE 7: A few middling chances to start the second half and a Joe Cole hissy fit. Owen Hargreaves got pwned by Makalele and fell to earth as if the Frenchman had hit him with a sock full of quarters.

Nice backcheck from Wayne Rooney, clearing a ball in his goal’s shadow.

Random question–could Chelsea or Man U, who are the two best teams in Europe–beat Brazil? Or Italy, whoever the best team in the world is?

UPDATE 8: Ferdinand goes down with a cramp and suddenly have the players are getting treatment on their hams and calves. WTF? Why are all these guys getting cramps? They’re playing in goddam Moscow, for cryin’ out loud.

The fact that soccer is the world’s most popular game and hockey can’t outdraw men’s gymnastics on TV makes me weep for our species.

UPDATE 9: With no runup Didier Drogba unleashes a 9-gigawatt laser pulse at the United goal. Van der Saar fully extends and the ball clatters off the bar with enough force to set off seismographs in California. That guy can BRING it.

UPDATE 10: Of course the game goes into extra-time and Lampard, ever the fox in the box, turns and poaps one off the crossbar. A bit later United race into the box like a pack of wolves and, with the goal wide open, John Terry somehow gets a piece of his body in front of the shot and it deflects out of play. Terry could probably make it in the NHL.

UPDATE 11: The boys are getting tough! A scrum starts and Vidic and Terry do some push-shove. Maybe Terry ain’t NHL material after all. Then Drogba loses his mind and gives Vidic a limp slap on the mush. The ref pulls out the red card and Drogba is sent off in deserved disgrace, meaning he won’t be available for the inevitable penalty shoot-out. If you’re gonna throw down, THROW DOWN. Give Vidic a straight right followed by a left to the kidneys–make that red card COUNT. Instead Drogba looks like, well, a soccer player.

UPDATE 12: Penalties. Look, if a sport doesn’t care enough about itself to see the thing through, then I won’t either. Whatta joke. Glad to see that the game will be decided in the most half-assed way imaginable. Pathetic.

UPDATE 13: It goes to show you how effed up soccer is that the shootout actually makes me feel bad for Chelsea. Sport can be cruel, but it shouldn’t be THAT cruel. Especially not John Terry on a wet pitch. Terry as the goat? Sick.

UPDATE 14: If you’re United, how do you enjoy this victory? You won because John Terry slipped on some wet grass. You weren’t the best team, you didn’t prove that during the course of play. As always, I bring up hockey. In a game like this, you play till you drop. If NHL teams can endure 6 overtimes, so can soccer. Allow for 3 more subs after the initial 30 minute overtime, and maybe an extra sub after an hour of extra-time. But penalties? It makes a mockery of the game. It makes a mockery of CARING about the game. Bah.

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4 Responses to “Evil Vs. Evil”

  1. JoeSpeaker Says:

    I am rooting for people to loose teeth. Or to fall into sinkholes in that dodgy pitch.

  2. A victory is a victory Says:

    If you suck out your opponents rockets with some random donk hand you will still take the cash and the glory that goes along with it. The “worlds most popular game” needs to come up with another way to determine big games like this. It lacks all drama leaves the door open for the randomness that occurred today. Keep up the good work Gene, looking forward to your WSOP coverage.

  3. TanOrpheus Says:

    Really enjoyed your writeup ! Nice one. You might even have convinced me to watch an NHL game sometime.

  4. cc Says:

    Penalties absolutely suck, no question about it. I wonder your thoughts on what led to the scrum that got Drogba sent off, if I had the facts straight. I had that Cech kicked a goal kick out of bounds due to someone cramping, Tevez then took the throw-in and kicked it deep near the corner out of bounds, then started waving his players to come back on defense. Proper etiquette is that Tevez should have kicked the ball through the endline for a goal kick again.

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