Jan 29, 2009

Soccer Source mid-week mash-up: It's getting kinda hectic

A flurry of midweek activity requires us to take stock of the goings on. Where to begin? How about in the "mother country" of association football (soccer for short, at least in the U.S.), where the top teams were all in action. The only interesting item to report there is that Liverpool squandered points again, this time at lowly Wigan Athletic (lowly? They're seventh in the Premiership! How did that happen?!?) to drop to third place in the Premiership. We were singing Liverpool's praises earlier this season. Now? Not so much. Though Stevie G and the boys are still well-positioned for a title run, which would be their first since the Thatcher administration. They're going to have to get it together soon though. Man United's the team to beat in England now and Chelsea is still right there as well. But enough about England. We have our resident Brit, Smoods, to deal with those people. The more interesting stuff happened elsewhere anyway.

Germany, for instance, is a top priority for U.S. soccer fans these days. That's because Landon Donovan, one of the best players (well, outfield players) we have ever produced is currently on trial with Bayern Munich, who are to Germany what the New York Yankees are to America (no we don't mean the U.S. America as in the continent). The Bavarian juggernauts beat up on VfB Stuttgart yesterday 5-1 in a cup tie, which believe it or not was their first game this year. Donovan did not start but came on as a sub 23 minutes from time. He'll get another chance tomorrow (Friday) night at fourth-placed Hamburg SV.

In Italy, second-placed Juventus pulled a Liverpool and dropped points they had no business dropping. But at least Reds managed a tie against Wigan. Juventus lost outright at Udinese, who sit 12th in Serie A and don't really scare any teams outside of Major League Soccer. First-placed Inter Milan took advantage of Juve's stumble to expand their lead to six points after winning at Catania. The feature game of the round, between third-placed AC Milan and fourth-placed Genoa ended at 1-1. Doesn't AC Milan have some English guy now? I remember hearing that somewhere.

There was even action in France, where first-placed Olympique Lyonnais beat third-placed Marseille in a cup tie on an early (very early. Like second minute) goal by Karim Benzema. Lyon advance to the Round of 16 with the victory.

Lastly, but by no means leastly, the Spanish Copa del Rey completed another turn with the quarterfinal return leg matches. The most interesting one of these, of course, was between FC Barcelona, whom we consider the best club in the world at present, and their cross-town rivals Espanyol. The first leg at Espanyol ended scoreless (keep in mind Barca have not lost a game that matters since like August or something) but Bojan Krkic notched a brace in today's return leg at Camp Nou to win it for the home side. In earlier matches, Sevilla beat Valencia and Bilbao put Gijon to the sword (is it just us, or does that sound like a line from an opera?) while Mallorca advanced past Real Betis.

But wait! There's more! In South America to be precise, where the Copa Libertadores preliminary round started this week as well. There are some teams you might have heard of (Argentina's Estudiantes and Brazil's Palmeiras come to mind) that are active in this stage of the tournament, but they don't play until later tonight. In one of the more interesting match-ups that was played, Universidad de Chile beat Mexico's Pachuca (a team U.S. fans, though probably not European ones, have probably heard of) by 1-0. The return leg is in Mexico Feb. 4. Come to think of it, the other two pairings are anything but interesting. Colombia's Independiente Medellin beat Uruguay's Penarol 4-0 and Paraguay's Nacional beat Ecuador's El Nacional by 5-0 (huh? Two teams by the same name playing each other? We thought that only happened in Canadian football when the two Rough Riders face off). You'll be reading more about the Copa Libertadores in this space. It's a great tournament that gets virtually no English-language press coverage so we kind of consider it our duty to educate you on it.

1 comment:

  1. LD is back with LA. I hope that he can prove critcs wrong.