Admittedly, I’ve been absent when it comes to the beautiful game on EJSIC since the end of the World Cup in July. Well, I gotcha back on some of the recent issues surrounding the sport starting with Qatar’s 2022 upset, UEFA Champions League, etc.
1. 2022 World Cup
The U.S. deserves the tournament more than a country the size of Connecticut. I will never say otherwise. Qatar’s oil money won out, so I’ll just have to get over it.
And I could fill this blog with the previously hashed out arguments of the extreme heat, grumpy Europeans with no alcohol, security issues, etc. but I’ll spare you all. We lost, I’m over it (mostly), and Qatar has some great ideas / stadium designs so maybe they’ll succeed and peace will transcend throughout the Middle East (too far right?).
The above stadium is my favorite design I’ve seen so far, but you can view them all here. They look great, and I honestly do wish them the best of luck in hosting the tournament. I’m sure a lot of the countries around the world felt the same way the U.S. now does when we were awarded the tournament in the early 90s.
2. FIFA President Sepp Blatter
The FIFA president who oversaw Qatar’s victory has since caused more controversy. While in South Africa officially closing out the 2010 World Cup (because it’s apparently a year-long event), Blatter warned homosexual fans who attend the 2022 event to not do anything sexually that is illegal there. He later apologized.
I guess it means this ref (video below) probably won’t be chosen to officiate the events.
3. UEFA Champions League – Round of 16
One can make a very strong argument that Europe’s most prized club competition features the best played soccer in the world (even better than the World Cup). Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has commented so numerous times. I tend to agree with the arguments.
The UCL provides teams with better chemistry since they play together for 8 months out of the year rather than the ~8 weeks of an international team in the World Cup. Still, there is something to be said for playing for a nation’s flag. But if you want to watch good soccer, check out the UCL when it picks back up in February.
The following are the Round of 16 match-ups with a rough preview:
AC Milan (Italy) v. Tottenham (Eng) – Milan seems to be improving from their results of the past few seasons, but the Spurs possess the ever-dangerous Gareth Bale
Valencia (Spain) v. Schalke 04 (Germ) – Two under-the-radar teams who are overshadowed by giant clubs in their home country should play an interesting 2 games
AS Roma (Italy) v. Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) – Shakhtar won its group over English juggernaut Arsenal and now look to take down an Italian powerhouse
Arsenal (Eng) v. Barcelona (Spain) – Barcelona are the favorites in the tournament, but Arsenal poses a tough test in the first knockout round
Copenhagen (Denmark) v. Chelsea (Eng) – The defending English champions have struggled lately, but with two months to heal and find their form, Chelsea should be able to defeat Copenhagen
Lyon (France) v. Real Madrid (Spain) – Real is Europe’s most successful club, and they look to recapture past glory against a scrappy but slightly under-manned Lyon
Marseille (France) v. Manchester United (Eng) – United looked dead earlier in the English season, but now find themselves at the top of the standings. Marseille, like Lyon, are too under-manned to be the favorites in this match-up
Internazionale (Italy) v. Bayern (Germ) – In last year’s finale, Inter defeated Bayern 2-0 to capture European glory. Their manager left for Real, but the players remain. Bayern will be looking for revenge