In previous years, I’d be preparing for the Champions League Final today. By preparing, I mean convincing my boss I need to take a 3-hour lunch break at the Irish Pub near my work. But they moved the Final (Inter Milan v. Bayern Munich) from its traditional Wednesday to Saturday this year, which is a good bit of scheduling moxie, so instead I sit here in the cubicle jonesing for action.
How to remedy that? World Cup futures bets! If, you know, that kind of thing were legal.
I’m not much of a chalk bettor. Boring. I always scoff at the guys jumping around when their 3/5 shot hits the wire first, so I look for value. No wagers on Brazil or Spain for me.
Odds to win:
Ivory Coast +2500
South Africa +12500
South Korea +20000
North Korea +75000
New Zealand +100000
England are laughably low. A nod to the furious amount of wagers they will attract and what looks to be easy progression from the group stages. Germany are cooked without Ballack. The Italy price looks good. So would France if they had a different coach. Beyond them, however, you’d have to be a remarkable optimist (or ardent homer) to risk cash on any of the longer shots.
So I’m going with Holland at 12-1. Total Football. I can feel satisfied I am backing a club that will entertain (while at the same time knowing their defensive and psychological frailties). A possible quarterfinal matchup with Brazil doesn’t inspire confidence, but we know the Oranj will go toe-to-toe with the South American heavyweights. Wesley Sneijder has arguably been the best playmaker in the world for Inter this season and, even though all his teammates hate him, Arjen Robbin is in amazing form and has scored huge goals for Bayern.
As long as neither of them pick up a knock in Madrid this Saturday, I’m going Dutch.
God bless the Irish – Once I read Unprofessional Foul there was no doubt what would lead the link dump. Irish sides Newry City and Larne met up in something called the Irish Cup which I assume is their version of the FA Cup. Here’s what I can tell from searching the news sites. Things were going along fine until the 80th minute when Larne captain Liam Hogan committed felonious assault on Darren King (pictured above). After that all damned hell broke loose. Punches, kicks and everyone sent home. My favorite group of pictures were presented by the BBC, insanity.
Editorial comment: Soccer players fight like little school girls.
Should have paid the electric instead – Real Madrid were paid €2,000,000 for a trip to Albania (Elbonia?) to play a friendly against Gramozi, a newly promoted side who borrowed players from other teams for a little boost. Then the stadium lights went out. Things were thrown, curses cursed, and somebody got sacked. Eventually Real Madrid won the match and got the hell out of Dodge.
Captain Raul was the only Real player to stay for the presentation of a cup, before leaving in a hurry surrounded by bodyguards.
Personalized stab-proof vests in time for the World Cup – This summer’s World Cup will see ~500,000 fans heads to South Africa where they are averaging 50 murders per day and more than 50% of them via knife/shank/sharpened nail clipper (reference TSA procedures). Now local crime lords promise to boost up the mayhem quotient. It makes perfect sense a company would now offer stab-proof vests for those making the trip and kind enough to give supporters the chance to order a vest with their national flag. World Cup officials are pissed at everyone. Customized personal protection equipment will be all the rage. (h/t Wicked Chops Poker)
Nine men, No problem – The top fixture in Serie A was the derby between AC Milan and Inter who were 7 points clear before the match. Inter scored their first goal early and then played much of the match with 10 men when Wesley Sneijder was sent off in the 27th minute. An injury time dismissal was enough to grab the 9-man headline then Secreteriat-like Ronaldinho has a penalty attempt rejected. I do think the reporter by have blown the size of this match out of proportion.
During a build-up which had involved more tactics than any game of football, Sneijder and Alessandro Nesta were both set to miss an eagerly-anticipated Milan derby.
Stoke City gun down the Gooners – Winner for worst EPL headline. Stoke City took points from Liverpool last week and this time around they knock Arsenal from the FA Cup. Wenger fielded a fairly weak side after the mid-week clash with Bolton but he’ll have some questions to answer. Who’s left in the FA Cup besides Chelsea and Coca Cola pretenders? Manchester United and Arsenal are now tied atop the leaderboard with the mighty Chelsea (KTBFFH) but they have two games in hand on ManU and one on the Arse.
Becks gets groped – I have no idea how to explain the video below. I cannot speak a lick of Italian but I believe the lass spends a few minutes talking about David Beckham’s junk and then goes on a sneak attack. You have to struggle through the first few minutes of yapping and close ups on his manhood but the two minute mark gets entertaining.
The group stage draws for the Champions League are in, and barring a few exceptions, the Premiership clubs again look like the favorites to make deep runs. In case you don’t feel like doing anything strenuous (like clicking a link), here’s some of the more interesting opening round pairings:
Inter and Barcelona in in Group F
Real Madrid and AC Milan in Group C
Unirea Urziceni and VfB Stuttgart in Group G
Ok, so former World Player of the Year and Inter Milan-er Luis Figo recently retired from “high level” soccer and now wants to spend his golden years…playing for the Chinese Super League? Yeah, here’s an exact quote from the Portuguese international:
“I am also happy to accept offers from CSL clubs.”
Ummm…ok, or you could just retire.
By the way, the name Chinese Super League rocks. I suggest we change the NBA to the FSBA or the F’ing Sweet Basketball Association.
“It gives us the opportunity to really capitalize on the growing support of the game,” said Peter Kenyon, the chief executive of Chelsea. “It’s utilizing the team — on the back of broadcast — to go and support football development, soccer development, and also allow our fans, who are an ever-growing number, to come and touch the holy grail if you like.”
The teams will play at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.; the Georgia Dome in Atlanta; Atlanta’s MT&T Bank Stadium; Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.; Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.; and the new Cowboys Stadium in Texas. All games will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2, as well as the Spanish-language network, ESPN Deportes, and online at ESPN360.com
You mean EPL? No, I mean EPT … the European Poker Tour. Apparently Inter’s Christian Vieri has got the Texas Hold’em bug … and plans to play in the EPT’s Championship at Monte Carlo. That’s the big-boy across the pond, and you can only imagine the sharks are happy to add some Serie-A money to the prize pool. At the same time, every so often a world-class competitor on another field surprises the poker-peeps and shows he can play.
Anyhow, Go Poker, Go Soccer, and Go Christian Vieri.
You can pretty much rest assured, with Poker Stars, at a minimum he’ll get a nifty sponsorship deal out of it.
Honestly, I had never heard of them before. But apparently they are called The Donkeys … and I just saw AC Chievo come back from a 2-0 deficit against Inter Milan (they were taking them for granted) to draw level in the 60somethingth minute. Apparently they are gentlemen from Verona.
UPDATE: They are actually called the Flying Donkeys (emph. added) … even cooler.
CRAP: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored. I suppose it was inevitable.
NEVER MIND: Another one for Ibrahimovic. It was just a brief scare, apparently, and Inter has stepped back up to put Chievo back in their dominated place. Bummer. Back to rooting for Roma, I guess.