Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Europa League Final Preview: Why Braga
Has a Puncher's Chance against F.C. Porto

At the moment, the country of Portugal is a Fat Bastard-style floater in the financial world's cesspool. An optimist would expect at any second, that some alleged French rapist from IMF would come in with $100B US to save the day, but that's doubtful. A few years ago, an all-Portuguese major European cup final would be equally as unlikely.

But today, that's what we have: Porto-Braga in the UEFA Cup (dammit) Europa League final. I still say there's time to move this game to Guimaraes or somewhere closer to Portugal than Dublin, but that's neither here nor there at this point. It's Portugal's day in Europe, and that's pretty cool from where I sit. And I think you could have the makings of an epic game as well, from where I sit.

In one corner, you have Porto, which aside from the Catalans, are probably the hottest team on the continent. They didn't lose a domestic game this season, but they currently are on a one-game losing streak having fallen to Villareal in the semifinal clincher a couple of weeks ago. (How's that for a silver lining Braga fans?)

And speaking of Braga, Cinderella has arrived at the ball. The gown looks good, the shoes fit and she's damn foxy. Ol' Cindy's getting some tonight; only the big finish is in doubt at this time. Braga belongs, have no doubt. They beat Benfica, Kyiv, Liverpool and Lech Poznan to get here after crashing out of the Champions League.

Braga has been focused on today for months; finishing almost 40 points behind the champions--well whatta ya know, that would be Porto!--will do that for ya. They have more than a puncher's chance because they're a pretty unified team with a mix of talent that on a given day--like today--can put it together to win Miracle style.

Porto might have the tournament's hottest scorer in Falcao and Europe's most sought-after player in Hulk (I always wondered where Bill Bixby ended up; he was such a vagabond wanderer). But Braga have the coolest stadium in Europe, Sporting's next coach and Kaka! How can they lose? (I know it's not that Kaka; don't bother with the wise-ass comments).

I'm going to watch. I'm going to take in an epic day. I'm going to love it when it's 2-2 with two minutes to go and No. 2 for Braga wins it. That's right, El Mudo wins it. You heard it here first.

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