116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gangsta's Paradise

While watching Craig Bellamy, John Arne Riise and the rest of the Liverpool Karaoke All-Stars deliver a nicely placed nine-iron to the knee of mighty Barca last night, I couldn't help but notice the lack of form displayed by many of the Champions League's leading lights. Barcelona, known for its nearly-telepathic on-field chemistry, snipped and griped with each other as if they had suddenly been body-snatched and replaced with Madridistas. How fiercely does this Samuel Eto'o fire burn, that they cannot summon the teamwork required to dispatch a team who recently had one star player beat the $#!+ out of a teammate over a few notes of karaoke?
But no matter who you are (we're looking at you, Rafa Marquez), you have to give credit where it's due, and Liverpool were never rattled, even after going a goal down in the Camp Nou pressure-cooker. While nobody ever said the Reds don't have any fight in them, their ability to come from behind in pressure situations is beginning to border on legendary. Milan, West Ham and now Barca fans know of Liverpool's fighting spirit, but Craig Bellamy wants to make sure everyone knows just how ballsy they are:

That's right, kids; he celebrated his goal with a golf swing! Craig Bellamy is straight up gangsta.

Speaking of goal celebrations, Mark van Bommel's "up yours" to the Real Madrid supporters was pretty classic as well. Sure, Bayern lost the match, but they are steps closer to winning the war, getting two key away goals before heading home. Real Madrid, after looking unstoppable in the first half, wilted away in the second, and the infighting has begun anew at the Bernabeu. While it's true that it's only Jose Antonio Reyes doing the yapping (he always seems to be whining about something), there can be no doubt that Fabio Capello is losing the squad. How can you not second-guess Capello after seeing the nearly-banished David Beckham dominate the first half so thoroughly? To give (begrudging) credit to Reyes, he has a fair point; Capello's tinkering with positions and playing time has undermined the confidence of his squad. Real's failure to bury their old German rivals underscores this point.

In light of the situation at Lille, as well as in Italy, I don't think there's any question that the Premiership is poised to run away as the best league in soccer over the next few seasons. With so much TV money coming in, along with new investors and stadiums to provide stability, as well as overseas marketing clout, the league already has a leg up on its less-organized European counterparts. Add better security and safety for fans and players than is available elsewhere, and I don't see how more of the world's top starts choose not to play there. Serie A's problems are so severe and unfixable, expect a mass exodus to England by its biggest stars in the near future.

In the same vein, watching the Dynamo play in that unsafe stadium in Costa Rica makes the think that SuperLiga is an especially good idea. Nothing against the CONCACAF Champions Cup, but the field conditions and security situation in some of the smaller island countries is not on par with a Champions-League style tournament. In future years, SuperLiga should add a play-in round to add one club from a smaller country entry into the tournament, similar to the play-in rounds of the Champions League.

Last but not least, congratulations to AEG and the Los Angeles Galaxy for essentially getting David Beckham for free. If the San Diego Union Tribune is to be believed, bidding for the Galaxy's shirt-sponsorship rights is up to $49 million for 5 years, with Citibank holding the edge at the moment. That would more or less cover Beckham's salary, wouldn't it? We'll keep an eye on this one.


Anonymous Julia said...

Oh wow, someone else on 116th Street (West or East?) who follows the Premiership!

I'm a Tottenham supporter, but as there's no way in hell I want to see Arsenal or Chelsea get any further in Europe, and I feel Man Utd has enough, I gladly cheered for Liverpool yesterday...

2:50 PM  
Blogger Z. Jackson said...

Welcome to the site! I'm the Thierry Henry-lookalike walking around on the East Side, if you see me say hello...

3:46 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...

Did you see how Deadspin linked to you for that original "Craig Bellamy Is a Gangsta" post? Pretty damn sweet, and well-deserved.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous McCrum said...

Beckham for free? No, if they sell shirt rights for 49 mil they've made 24 million.

Take that, NASL.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Z. Jackson said...

The Deadspin love was definitely cool. I was surprised, I wrote that so long ago and didn't find out they'd linked to it until days after the fact.

McCrum, you are definitely right, now that the real Beckham numbers are coming out, it's even more of a steal (Galaxy/AEG/MLS/19 Ent still lose cred for accouncing a $250 million deal, and the media loses even more for not questioning that number).

11:47 PM  
Anonymous McCrum said...

I definitely blame the media and Lalas for that one. 250 mil and everyone in Europe suddenly wanted a piece at that price. Zizu poked around Chicago for around 15 mil a season.

But the Beckham rule is, sadly, only going to probably be for Beckham. I don't see AEG ponying up big cash for anyone else like that (who else has the shirt-selling capability?). The new DCU group is too comfortable with pulling cheap talent from South America. Is Dallas going to flash a big wad? Kansas City (now that Lamar is gone, especially not).

Enjoy Becks while he is here, I don't see more folks like that coming over. If they do, they'll be more like Lothar and Hristo, less like Peter Nowak.

10:32 PM  
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2:23 PM  

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