Something Great

Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Weekend Preview

But first, a message from our sponsor.

Alright, then. With two of the three league leaders in turmoil (Inter's midweek draw against Roma has them virtually locked up), things have gotten really interesting in the big leagues of Europe. Let's see what fresh disturbances this weekend can bring...


Atletico Madrid (4th) vs. Barcelona (2nd).
In the span of two weeks, the La Liga race has been almost completely turned on its head. Everyone (including me) was calling this one over as Real Madrid opened up a massive lead over a seemingly disinterested Barca. Now, that lead has been cut to two points. Los Blancos can't seem to win a game, even losing at home to Getafe (see Juan's hilarious post) and are now without master poacher van Nistelrooy. Barca, meanwhile, are really feeling it. They're on a good winning streak now, putting 5 past Levante over the weekend and beating Celtic in the CL, a notoriously difficult side to break down at Parkside. However, this weekend their job gets a little harder. The other Madrid side are certainly no pushovers, and wunderkind Sergio Aguero (Juan loves Quaresma like I love Aguero... I think he's my favorite relatively unknown superstar*) should return to partner Forlan up front.

The verdict: Now is Barca's time. Everyone is back healthy and seems to be finding their form. Even on the road, I think we'll see a strong performance from them. Atletico's major weakness is in the midfield, and they may have to start unproven seventeen year old Ignacio Camacho at CM thanks to poor performances from their regulars. With potent attackers all over the field, Barca should be able to net a couple before Atletico break through for a consolation. Los Indios 1 - 2 Los Awesome-O's.


Juventus (3rd) vs. Fiorentina (4th).
Fiorentina were lucky to have lowly Livorno sandwiched between this game and their heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Roma (keeper Sebastien Frey's face at 0:38 says it all). A get-healthy win against Livorno put them in the fourth spot, but AC Milan were running them down like a San Francisco tiger before being held by Catania. Now, they'll be very hard pressed to stay up there with a trip to the Stadio Olimpico to play Juventus. What will give them hope is that the Bianconeri haven't really been in great form lately. After beating Roma at home, they lost at Reggina, one of the league's worst sides, and then were unable to break down a stubborn Torino defense despite several good chances.

The verdict: What gives Juventus the edge in this match, and AC Milan hope for fourth, is the absence of star striker Adrian Mutu, who twisted his knee in the match against Roma. His goals to league games ratio was 2 to 3 (!), so without him, where will Fiorentina find the net? The answer is "not against Buffon." People are expecting a thriller, but I see a tight contest with a defensive error perhaps making the difference. Italy's Girlfriend 1 - 0 Italy's Purple-Clad, Frenchy-Symbol-Wearing Boyfriend.


Arsenal (1st) vs. Aston Villa (6th).
It's been a rough couple weeks for the Gunners. It all started with the spanking at the hands of Man U in the FA Cup, and culminated with a draw snatched from the jaws of victory against Birmingham. Along the way, they teased their London supporters with a dominant yet goalless display against AC Milan, and lost their "fox in the box" to a horrendous season-ending injury. United are now three points back, and the margin of error is razor thin. Meanwhile, Villa, since losing to Fulham at the beginning of the month, have gotten back on track. They easily dispatched horrendous Newcastle (England's new points ATM) and then went to work with a businesslike win over Reading. Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor remain a quick and deadly threat on the wings, especially when allowed to send in crosses for increasingly dangerous striker John Carew.

The verdict: Oh man, this is a tough one. Villa have been very solid all season and are currently level on points with Liverpool, which gives one an idea of their competitiveness. In their last meeting at Villa Park, Arsenal surrendered an early goal before scoring two and absolutely tearing their competition apart... for the remainder of the first half. In the second, they had to fight for their lives not to lose the lead. Of course, they're at home this time around, but can they turn the emotional experiences of last week to their advantage? Mathieu Flamini thinks they can, and the last time he played Villa, he scored a screamer. Since he's the new Gattuso, I'll set aside my fears of a draw for now. Gooners 2 - 1 Villans.

*Aguero, being short of stature, quick, Argentinian, and possessed of an eye for goal, has often been called the next Maradona. Thus making him one of at least three "next Maradona's" currently tearing it up in Europe.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

AC Milan Ooze Class

And here's another example.

Just thought I'd mention it. Things may be quiet here at TLOCA for the moment, but fear not, there's a massive week ahead. Prepare for far more Champions League discussion than is necessary.

Tottenham, on the other hand, don't keep it quite as classy. (Much to my chagrin, though, it would seem as though the brilliant Juande Ramos may have to deal with more of this in the future. With a Cup victory, a shored up backline featuring a resurgent Woodgate, and a newfound confidence, Spurs are a team with a bright future... just as long as nobody pulls a Pacman Jones during these nighttime adventures.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

In Case You Missed It

I can't adequately explain why I personally found the events of Real Madrid - Getafe to be so comical. But if you want some help recreating the humor:

  • Consider that Real ended up losing the game and in the midst of all the horrible outcomes this past week, something like this can always happen to your team
  • Know that Real Madrid felt foolish for allowing this to happen
  • Listen to it on mute the first time to better appreciate Robben's facial expression and Ruud's confusion.
  • You must think backflips are funny. Because the dude doing backflips with his boy celebrating with him is priceless. I included the screen shot so you know what I'm talking about.

  • When you listen to it for the second time with sound - obviously the Spanish announcer is hilarious. "Valio" in spanish means counted. So "no valio! no valio! no valio!" and then "ahora si valio" in spanish means, "it did not count"
    and "now it does count" (cue backflips).
Without any further adieu - here is the link*

I'm not responsible for this video being taken off of youtube in 2 hours from now, just so you know. Youtube sucks now, it's not my fault.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What A Week

Champions League First Leg Recap

Arsenal 1 - AC Milan 0

It was a hard fought game with the Gunners moving the ball around nicely. Milan's staunch defense seemed as if it would never crack but finally Theo Walcott put a pristine cross on the head of Adebayor (who else, right) who buried the empty netter in stoppage time to give Arsenal a valuable 1 goal lead heading into San Siro.

Liverpool 0 - Nazionale 0

Materazzi anchored a solid Inter defense that turned away Liverpool when opportunities presented themselves. Inter's offensive flood labored some at Anfield but returning home without giving up any unnecessary goals away should pay dividends for them in the second leg. Pool proved that you can't just try really hard when it matters and see results.

Manchester United 0 - Lyon 1

Young French firecracker Benzema showed that even ManU can't overcome talent. Lyon stayed patient on defense and kept some offensive mindset to keep ManU honest. Maintaining that attacking mentality proved well instead of cramming the box with defenders against ManU's offensivibility (offense and inevitability) to hold Chester 1 nil. This result gives Lyon hope as they did not give up the often pivotal goal at home.

Premier League Recap

Arsenal 3 - Birmingham City 1

The bad news is that Eduardo has a high ankle sprain and will be out 6-8 weeks. The good news is that Theo Walcott came in and propelled the gunners to a two-one lead before Adebayor (will he ever slow down?) put the baby to sleep and assured Arsenal of three important points in the scorching race for the Premiership.

Man Utd 2 - NewCastle 1

The Treble got caught score watching and struggled their way to victory against the Magpies. NewCastle after their first drubbing (6 nil) against Manchester made the necessary adjustments and almost held off United before finally conceding a late goal to Cristiano Ronaldo. Roonaldy (Cristi and Wayne) played uninspired and are officially slumping.

Serie A Recap

Juventus 2 - Reggina 1

Juventus established their win last week over Roma as no fluke by beating lowly Reggina the next week. With no Champions League or Coppa Italia to distract them anymore (or ever) Juve can concentrate on the Serie A and work hard to earn the coveted 2nd place finish in the Serie A. Trezeguet took his flu shot in October of last year so that silly things like sickness wouldn't hamper his starts. The inoculation proved effective as he was on the pitch to score the game winner late and in dramatic fashion to keep Juve threatening.