Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Everything’s coming up Football!

As a football fan, it is easy to have a lousy weekend. Your favorite club can drop its third game in a row; your team’s striker can be on a cold streak so pronounced he should move to Antarctica; or perhaps your team’s coach acts like an escapee from a mental institution. Hey, it happens.

However, every once in a while, everything comes up roses for the football fan. This weekend was one of those weekends for me. I follow a bunch of teams, allowing for lots and lots of bad things to happen, but everything came out aces. Here’s what transpired:

Real Madrid v. Real Sociedad (2pm, Saturday)

I started the day with my Spanish team, Real, perhaps because I am a glutton for punishment. Rumor was Real coach Fabio Cappello was a goner if the Whites dropped another game in a row. Amazingly, Cappello backtracked last week and announced he would not only play, but start David Beckham after banishing him in January when he signed his big contract with the Galaxy. Real went down 1-nil, but Beckham brought them back even in storybook fashion on a nice free kick. Good for Becks. Rudd van Nistleroy headed in the winner after the break, and the team closed out the game as if it were a collection of actual professional soccer players. Good start to the weekend.

Sheffield United v. Tottenham Hotspur (late night Saturday)

After a very fine Saturday evening spent with family and friends, I returned home to watch my favorite English club, Sheffield United, take on the Spurs and the jowls of their coach, Martin Jol, who looks, at this point, like he swallowed a whole pumpkin. Sheffield predictably goes down 1-nil on a sloppy throw-in after five minutes, and I settle in for an uncomfortable 85 minute stomach-ache while I contemplate relegation. However, and slightly more unpredictably, the Blades score two going away, the first off a Rob Hulse header and the second from a Phil Jagielka penalty kick. The later also has the benefit of justifying my decision to keep Jagielka on my fantasy team. Anyway, the Spurs play the second half like a team that is already contemplating where they are going to go golfing during the summer break. My boys aren’t free and clear yet, but they’re not in the relegation zone either. Also, I’m two for two this weekend.

Siena v. Cagliari (9am, Sunday)

I’ve been a big fan of Siena since I visited the gorgeous town with my wife this fall. I even purchased a Sienna club shirt which I wear on occasion. Anyway, good game here: Siena has had SERIOUS trouble scoring goals this season but scores two in this one to draw with Cagliari and keep them mid-table. Corvia’s first goal was particularly sweet. When watching the game, I was only able to see a few thousand spectators in the crowd; I assumed Cagliari’s stadium was one that was subject to the spectator ban. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The fans just didn’t give a shit. This has got to be worrying for Series A. I, however, will gladly take a draw, and thus consider myself three for three.

Fiorentina v. Udinese (midday Sunday)

Fiorentina is my favorite team in Italy, so I was bummed I didn’t get to see them this week. I checked the score on the ‘net around noon, and saw that we won. Sweet. I was four for four. Having no other games to watch for a while, I accompanied my lovely wife to Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island for a little lunch. Federal Hill, for those who don’t know, is sort of the “little Italy” of Providence. Anyway, we walk into an Italian grocery store, and what’s on the TV above the meat counter, but the Fiorentina game! Apparently they get the RAI channel in Rhode Island, while I don’t. Regardless, I watched transfixed while the wife buys food. This really is my weekend.

AC Milan v. Livorno (Sunday evening)

I’m not necessarily a big fan of AC Milan, but I watch all their games because my favorite player, Yoann Gourcuff, wears the red and black. Unfortunately, he didn’t play Sunday, so I can’t really consider myself five for five. However, Ronaldo was substituted in at about the sixty minute mark, and so I gladly took in that. Ronaldo looks surprisingly thin to me. I mean, Barcelona thin. I think he could end up doing some damage this year, as long as he keeps this weight down. On the other hand, I have heard that Northern Italy has some pretty good cuisine….

All-in-all, however, it was a great weekend. May football fans everywhere occasionally experience one just like it.

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