Unsolicited Thoughts | Champions League

Unsolicited thoughts is a recurring column of assorted musings from ACL’s most cultured friend Mr. David Coggins.

May is a fine time in the sporting world unless you support a team that plays in Madison Square Garden. The mediocrity of regular season basketball gives way to the intense playoff march, and hockey players grow their post-season beards while pursuing the Stanley Cup. In baseball parks, on the other hand, it’s too early for true believers to abandon improbable dreams of October success. If you’ve still got room in your life for more sporting distraction–and you do–consider another definitive contest: the UEFA Champions League.

Wayne Rooney

For the uninitiated, this soccer tournament, which plays out over nine months, brings together the best club teams in Europe. The final, played in Rome on May 27th, is a dream match-up between the classic English side Manchester United and the Spanish practitioners of the beautiful game, Barcelona. United, a team equally loved and loathed, is led by the virtuosic and petulant Portuguese star, and reigning world player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo. Rio Ferdinand anchors their stubborn defensive line, and Wayne Rooney, the jug-headed visionary, can pass and finish with equal deftness. Barcelona, the only major team in Europe whose jerseys are unsullied by a business logo, pays Unicef to display their patch on their uniform. Conversely, United is sponsored by corporate casualty AIG–American taxpayers are more involved in soccer than they know.

The Catalan side plays a control game–all of their players are comfortable on the ball, and they dominate possession with an endless series of intricate passes. They’re spearheaded by the Argentine maestro, Lionel Messi, perhaps the best player in the world. Above all, this team is built to score–their defense is an afterthought, susceptible to set pieces.

Carlos Puyol
Carlos Puyol

The match begins at 2.45pm in New York, and if you’re unable to enjoy the match over a pint with the lads, follow along with the hysterical minute-by-minute report on the Guardian website. That great English newspaper has incredible coverage–their football podcast is indispensable. The Champions League has its intrigue–there are annual charges of backroom conspiracies, and shenanigans with the referees. More curious is that each game starts with the singing of the sentimental Champions League anthem–adapted from Handel, whose lyrics include: ‘Those are the best biggest teams/These are the champions.’


It’s hard to tell what’s more tedious: soccer proponents endlessly preaching the virtue of their sport or American skeptics complaining about the lack of scoring. Without casting judgment, this match-up may be the best the world game has to offer. If the threat of a nil-nil draw still strikes fear in your heart, be assured that there will be 30 minutes of extra time, and, if it’s still tied, brace yourself for the unspeakable pressure of penalty kicks. Still want guaranteed action after sitting through all that? Lay a twenty on a goalless draw–at 5/1 you’ll get the handsome payoff you know you deserve.


Comments on “Unsolicited Thoughts | Champions League

    nick on May 20, 2009 9:23 AM:

    Despite Arsenal being shit in the ties against Man U, I am still very excited about this day. Have organized to watch it on a gaint HD tv in a newly constructed square just blocks from my home in Fishtown, USA.

    David on May 20, 2009 9:32 AM:

    Never thought I’d see Wayne Rooney on ACL. 2-1 to Barcelona… I hope!

    Exit Lines on May 20, 2009 9:32 AM:

    Arsenal broke many hearts, not least Arsene Wenger’s.

    theKrisheim on May 20, 2009 9:48 AM:

    cristiano is gonna go off

    last game for united probably

    hopefully the final lives up to the drama of the quarters and semis

    chelski was robbed

    Andrew H on May 20, 2009 9:52 AM:

    No mention of the absolute robbery that was the officiating during the Chelsea/Barca match?

    If looking for a place that A Continuos Lean and soccer merge, check out the new England home jersey kit, the best looking uniform perhaps in all of sport. I guess that’s what you get when Seville Row plays a part in designing your uniform.

    BA on May 20, 2009 10:03 AM:

    Can’t wait for the final. Here’s to Barca!

    zekiel on May 20, 2009 10:09 AM:

    I agree with the comments re: chelski.
    The home and away rules makes even a draw more dramatic

    Ivan on May 20, 2009 10:27 AM:

    Espn360 streams the games in HD if you can’t leave the office.

    Comfortably Smug on May 20, 2009 10:33 AM:

    For the record, I purchased a Man U jersey solely because it displays the AIG logo. If it wasn’t for the AIG bailouts being redistributed to the investment banks and hedge funds, I’d be pretty screwed.

    thorn on May 20, 2009 10:58 AM:

    there were poor calls against both sides in that chelski/barca match, and there seems to be a great deal of whining from the titty babies that make up the chelsea supporters, but people keep forgetting that chelsea basically scored, parked the bus in fron the goal, putting ten men behind the ball and never converted any of their few chances into goals. nor do they seem to recall that iniesta’s goal hit the net like a rocket and cech wasn’t even close to preventing it.

    Andrew H on May 20, 2009 11:38 AM:

    re: thorn-
    Yes, Iniesta’s goal was insane. Wasn’t Essien’s as well? Yes.
    There is a lot of whining from us Chelsea supporters because there were two CLEAR penalties not given, and 2-3 others that very easily could have been given, that were not. All because UEFA didn’t want to see two English sides go at it again.
    Yes, Chelsea played ugly, sit-back-and-defend soccer, but you can’t blame us for complaining about the (lack of) calls.

    Exit Lines on May 20, 2009 11:58 AM:

    Henry was hauled down in the box in the first leg. If that penalty had been called the entire second match would have been different–Chelsea would have had to attack and then they would have been vulnerable to the counter. It’s not as straightforward as a simple conspiracy–though it is a blessing for those who favor positive football.

    garrett colton on May 20, 2009 12:21 PM:

    I saw FC Barcelona and Liverpool play in the quarter finals of the champions league a couple years ago and it was the best sporting event I have ever been to. Nothing compares to this.

    Fernando on May 20, 2009 12:22 PM:

    Yes, Chelsea was not given calls it deserved, yet the same could be said for Barcelona in both the home and away games.

    I am also extremely glad that ACL is displaying its culture by including the world’s most popular sport in its content. Sartorial insight plus soccer equals one great blog!

    GO BARCA!!

    American Mancunian on May 20, 2009 12:44 PM:

    Wow, a CL post on ACL, now there’s a first. Agree with the posters above, nice to see you showing some appreciation for the beautiful game.

    I remember last year in the Man Utd-Barca semi, Utd pretty much closed down and played defensive in the first leg (although Ronaldo missed an easy PK), and went on the offensive (temporarily) in the 2nd leg at home. Pretty much what Chelsea’s gameplan was this year, minus the blown referee calls. They were unlucky.

    Although Barca fans would kill me for saying this, IMO, it’s not about playing beautiful, it’s about doing whatever you need to win. Nobody will remember that Utd beat Barca by playing “unattractive” football, they’ll remember that they beat them. The best way to stop the Barca attacking machine was to park the bus in front of them, and Utd and Chelsea followed that strategy. Did you see when Bayern Munich tried to play with them? They got destroyed.

    It will be rather interesting to see such two diametrically opposite teams play each other. Here’s to an enjoyable final.

    drinkinanddronin on May 20, 2009 5:01 PM:

    The finals are always kind of old for me since it’s always the same teams, but as with many…I was very disappointed with Arsenal’s efforts.

    It’s good to see some thoughts by Mr. Coggins!

    Big Kid on May 20, 2009 10:11 PM:

    Wenger has to get (pay) for more experience in the side. Tired of top 4 and no hardware.

    RF Interference on May 21, 2009 2:09 AM:

    Never thought I’d see Wayne Rooney on ACL.

    Me neither. Can’t say I care for the nut-stomping yob.

    Anfield Road Scallies on May 21, 2009 4:16 AM:

    When the Mancs were still in their three-star jumpers, flares and platform shoes, in 1977 Liverpool’s youngsters basically re-invented British male fashion with slimline Lois jeans, Adidas Samba (or Mamba for mingebags), wedge haircuts and Peter Storm cagoules.

    And now their team has the cheek to equal our league title total. If they win this they’re only one behind our European Cup tally.

    The only thing that keeps me going is that we wore flares, Hush Puppies and Barbour first in 1984.

    Glenn-Glenn on May 21, 2009 4:20 AM:

    Wow, never thought that CL would appear in a ACL post. Very well written and it’s so fun to see a post about football (soccer), written with your sartorial quirks. This one is one of the best posts ever.


    Arsenal Stu on May 21, 2009 6:32 AM:

    Yes, a CL/football (soccer) post on ACL – brilliant. This will be one of the finest matches in recent years. Everyone’s talking about Ronaldo and Messi but for me the result hangs on one person – Vidic. If he has a good game UTD will shut Barca out and win, somehow these big matches are about unsung heros. UTD’s other unsung hero Park has been promised a starting place. 1 – 0 UTD, Park scores in the second half. (I don’t want either team to win, I like Arsenal)

    I have been to every Arsenal home CL game this season and for those who have never been to a CL game, it really is a spectacle, the skill, the atmosphere, the walk to and from the stadium. It’s electric.

    As for ‘the American skeptics’, low scoring 0-0 comment, I agree that it’s tiresome preaching to the unconvinced. But it really is true, less is most definitely more.

    Please watch this game. This is the sporting event of the year.

    william on May 21, 2009 9:22 AM:

    Come on you Red Devils!

    Colin on May 21, 2009 12:21 PM:

    Liverpool FC

    Sky on May 21, 2009 12:29 PM:

    The Spirit of Eric Cantona. Au revoir Arsenal and Chelsea.

    We’ll drink a drink a drink
    To Eric the King the King the King
    He’s the leader of our football team
    He’s the greatest
    French Footballer
    that the world has ever seen

    Ferguson’s red and white army [clap, clap, clap]
    Ferguson’s red and white army [clap, clap, clap]

    When the ball hits the goal
    it’s not Giggs,
    it’s not Scholes,
    It’s Ronaldo!

    He’s won it ten times,
    He’s won it ten times,
    That boy Giggsy,
    He’s won it ten times.

    Red Devils over Messidona: 2-1.

    Cory on May 21, 2009 12:35 PM:

    You are wrong about the uni’s. Check out Aston Villa’s kit this season with Acorns Children’s Hospital on them.

    Exit Lines on May 21, 2009 1:20 PM:

    Thanks for the tip, Cory. My mistake. Well done Villa–DC.

    dutch365 on May 21, 2009 4:59 PM:

    Brilliant post on the CL…Im not surprised though as the most fashionable people are football fans…I would love it if Barcelona wins the Champions League..I believe they deserve it with the way they play with their brand of beautiful, attacking football using mostly home-grown players from their own academy….Messi being the most celebrated one to emerge…in contrast to Manchester who have bought mostly foreigners (Vidic, Park, Ronaldo, Tevez, Van der Sar)…Yes, both teams play attacking football but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see which team plays the more beautiful and effective attacking game…remember Barcelona humiliated Real 6-2 with a scintillating display of attacking team football led by Xavi and Iniesta…

    Barca to win the champions League because they deserve it!!!

    Anfield Road Scallies on May 22, 2009 11:04 AM:

    If you like clothes and soccer, check out Awaydays, a story of fashion and football set in the late 1970s. Seriously, if you love ACL you’ll love this.


    nic on May 22, 2009 4:03 PM:

    …indeed, refreshing to see people posting about football with a sartorial restraint!

    Having said that…Barcelona…”mostly home-grown players”!?!

    alex x on May 25, 2009 2:33 AM:

    Since this is ACL…what do people think of their team’s latest kits? I’m a gooner, and I DESPISE both out current home and away kits, the home one with it’s utterly silly white stripe down the arm (as opposed to the traditional all-white sleeve) we’ll keep for next season, ugh, but we’re getting rid of the bizarre away kit of this season, that never failed to remind me of kid’s PJ’s.—thankfully it was a one-off. The new away kit for next year is getting mixed reviews but I really dig it, dark blue with pinstripes (supposedly Ozwald Boateng had a hand in it). Any Blues fans have thoughts on your new home shirt for next year, with the odd breast-plate look? Lastly…Arsenal in the CL final next year, bank it. And I’d look for ManU to slice up Barca’s back line, never the strongest, now a mess from injuries and suspensions.

    Rosa on May 27, 2009 10:52 AM:

    as an American I don’t know much about soccer, only that Cristiano Ronaldo is super hot. But seriously, what’s up with the stabbings? http://www.newsy.com/videos/champions_league_showdown
    How common is that in Rome?

    thorn on May 27, 2009 6:48 PM:

    FORÇA BARÇA!!!!!
    Just ran circles around the red devil bastards, from Eto’o’s first blood to Messi’s deathblow… pure beautiful football wins over the English slugfest again!

    GEORGE on May 30, 2009 6:10 PM:

    Despite what Americans asy about their ”football”, and SuperBowls, and all those numerous college Bowls so every one can be happy, the King of sports is Soccer, aand nothin can compare to the UEFA Cahmapions League Final, and the World Cup Final.
    American Football and Baseball, will always be something like deranged offspring of the real football and cricket.

    Franklin on June 2, 2009 8:45 PM:

    dissapointing game, off season movements will be insane…as usual. football and basketball need to take note

    Mark on June 4, 2009 7:42 PM:

    One question. Shouln’t American football be called “Hand Egg” and not football! The ball looks like an egg and your chuck it and catch it!

Comments are closed.