Monday, January 2, 2012

Don't Get Apocalyptic About Football in 2012

If this is the apocalypse, gimme some
It's been almost five months since I've posted something fresh to my blog. That's downright apocalyptic, which is apropos given it's after all 2012. Kinda sad for footie fans if the Mayans are right. After all, we're stuck with 2010 as the last World Cup--aside from Spain establishing itself as the best national team in a generation, the Mundial didn't give us much more. The U.S. bombed out, and even that wasn't enough to cost Bullet Bob Bradley his job until 2011! A loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final apparently means a lot more to the ever-provincial US Soccer Federation.

Barcelona, meanwhile, continues to dominate club football. Real Madrid has its most potent club in a long time and cannot make a dent in Pep Guardiola's armor. Jose Mourinho's Year-2 legacy of winning big as a sophomore is in serious jeopardy if the last Classico was any indication. Cristiano "ARod" Ronaldo just can't get over the Messi hump. It's a messy situation.

The Champions League? Still sucks. Which is too bad. I still want the 64-team NCAA Tournament-style knockout tournament to come back. I think that still satisfies the Platinis of the world who want the minnows to cash in. It also satisfies the giants who if they're dedicated enough, can stomp through the early rounds and make for a juicy Sweet 16 and beyond. Maybe someone should buy Platini and company tickets to this year's NCAA Final Four. Maybe it will spur him on. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

So what do we have to look forward to this year? A Porto-Sporting Sweet 16 in the Europa League? How cool would that be? Only thing cooler would be a Sporting-Braga final. But that's just silly me being silly selfish.

Euro is this summer. Hopefully the solar flares won't be kicking up too bad in Poland and Ukraine and ESPN won't lose its' feed a la the 2008 Euro. The GOD group, i.e., Portugal-Holland-Germany-Denmark (Seriously, what sick fuck thought this shit up?) is unquestionably cementing Euro's status as the best football tournament in the world. What a bloodbath those group games are going to be. Portugal and Holland hate each other (see 2006 World Cup). Germany and Holland have history. Portugal cannot beat Germany--and apparently cannot beat Denmark either. And Denmark, yeah, it beat Germany to win the '92 Euro for whatever that's worth.

All I know is that if Portugal somehow escapes the group stage, somewhere along the way it will play England -- and beat England -- in penalty kicks. Make book on it. Otherwise, it's difficult to bet against a Spain-Germany final, which is a tasty treat for sure given the young Germany powerhouse that country is building, and Spain, of course, being Spain.

And then it's downtime until Dec. 21, which could be the be-all, end-all of ... The Club World Cup?

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