Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday Soccer Readings

Barca beat Arsenal 2 -1 in Champions League final today in Paris. Arsenal played with 10 men for the last 72 minutes of the game after keeper Jens Lehmann (Deutschland's #1 in upcoming WC) took down Barca's Samuel Eto'o just outside the box. The referee could have allowed continued play (and a Barca goal) but chose to blow his whistle, and once that decision was made he had no choice but to red card Lehmann. Arsenal nonetheless took the lead on a Sol Campbell header off a set piece cross from Thierry Henry in the 37th and looked like they might make it hold up, but Eto'o scored

in the the 74th off a fabulous feed by Henrik Larsson, and four minutes later Larsson set up Juliano Belletti for Barca's second, and winning goal.

ESPN's announcers made much of an apparent argument during the game between Henry and Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, supposedly over substitutions Henry thought Wenger should make and Wenger wouldn't, and that, plus the loss, led to speculation that it'll be a matter of weeks if not days before Henry takes his free transfer to Catalonia. Henry had two quick shots on goal in the first three minutes then disappeared for much of the game, though he had a semi-breakaway around the 65th minute, while Arsenal was still up 1-0, that you expect him to bury, and 2-0, in a steady downpour, with Ronaldinho also having a strikingly subpar game, would almost certainly seen Arsenal through.

* * * * *

Here's a very good All Things Considered audio report on the scandal rocking Italian football, and here's a good LA Times article on the same. A few years back I read - and recommend - novelist Tim Parks' memoir

of a season he spent as a member of the devoted fan club of Hellas Verona, and in the book he makes many mentions of the pervasive belief by most Italians of the corruption behind football in Serie A (there is a website, I can't remember it or find it now, that archives all videos of all PKs awarded to Juve to document - or celebrate - how refs cheat to award victories to Juve). If Italians are shocked to hear of cheating mandated from the top they are shocked by its magnitude, not its existance.

But.... people are speculating how this will affect Italy in WC06 and especially the game vs the USMNT: despite what my friend Quiet Side said with all assurances today, I don't think this is good news for the USMNT. If Italy was to cough-up a hairball because of all this, it'll be in their first game vs Ghana; if they face, without a point, the USMNT, desperately needing three, that can't be good for USMNT. Not that I think the USMNT can beat Italy anyway.

Speaking of which, this article says Claudio Reyna might be pushed back to holding midfield. This article has news of other national team selections plus a paragraph devoted to explaining what a whiny punkassbitch Amado Guevara is. Not new news, that.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Glad, very glad, to be wrong: Henry to stay at Arsenal.

Bonus Friday Update: Thanks to D of DCenters, here's the anti-Juve website.


Blogger D said...

The website you are looking for is AntiJuve.Com... and if you don't speak italian, try going here:

11:42 AM  

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