Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to all you faithful readers of Sensible Soccer! Thanks for the support and stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Classic Soccer Beards: Vote For Your Favorite!

Winter break is upon us, amici. As the time for family, friends, and holiday cheer beckons, take a moment to vote on who has the best soccer beard in history! And here are your candidates:

A heavy favorite in the "Best Mullet and Beard" category, the Brazilian maestro known for keeping a well-organized midfield and firing some stunning strikes from distance, definitely had a sweet beard. I am hoping he still has one in his later years.

Djibril Cissé
What is this man? The French enigma always has something strange happening on his head. This is hardly the weirdest picture I found! Unfortunately votes for Djibril will not count, since I don't think he's human.

George Best
The focal point of Manchester United's early triumphs and, much like my other Northern Irish comrades, the fond admirer of more than few pints, Georgie Best was also widely known for the furious beard pictured above. It looks as though Best had his head completely immersed in hair and had to shave around his eyes and cheeks on a daily basis to look normal. Damn, that deserves extra points for determination.

Olof Mellberg
This, my friends, is the definition of a luscious beard. Hell, the stalwart Swede might even have to use conditioner on that baby after a rigorous shampooing. The experienced Olympiacos defender certainly has one of the best beards out there.

Alexi Lalas
I know what you're thinking: this isn't Alexi Lalas, this is the frontman for Metallica. But no, rest assured, it's pure Lalas! The smooth-faced, argumentative, patriotic wind-bag we know today sported (as I'm sure you all know) some wild fiery facial hair in his heyday. Note: Lalas could have been omitted from this list because technically, he had a goatee, but I feel the hair to goatee to mutton chop ratio saved Alexi's grace on this list.  

Daniele De Rossi
Il capitano futuro of Roma is a late bloomer in the beard game, but gaining some serious momentum. DDR has a solid beard, but what makes him a stellar candidate is his marauding and screaming nature. This amplifies the intensity of his beard, 1,000 fold. The Italian has taken a liking to his beard, so I'm sure we will be captivated by it for years to come.

Damiano Tommasi
Because of his wild hair and beard, Damiano Tommasi was by far one of the easiest players to identify without seeing a number or name in early 2000 FIFA's. That alone warrants this list. The Italy international and Roman kept his beautiful beard and unkempt locks throughout his career and he's calling for your vote.

Christoph Metzelder
The ever-reliable German defender was almost left off my list, due to his affinity to shave. But, I admire Metzelder's absolute imperative beard growth while playing on the world's stage with the German national team. I don't think I've ever seen him without a beard in the colors of Deutschland.

Archie Gimmell 
Best known for his brilliant solo goal for Scotland against Holland in the 1978 World Cup, Gimmell took the pitch with what appeared to be a fat lumberjacks beard. It looks like there should be food somewhere in that mess of hair! For some strange reason he reminds me of my Dad. Next contestant. 

Abel Xavier
How did you get on the list Mr. Xavier? Oh, you're a friend of Djibril? No kidding. The globe trotting defender who ended his career with the Galaxy has quite the Cissesque look. Match that with ridiculous bleached hair and he's obviously on this list.

David Beckham
No competition on style would be complete without the sport's most renowned figure and fashonista, David Beckham. Though Becks may have a different style every day, the man does front a pretty sweet beard. Will he win another award? You be the judge.

Please cast your vote out of the 11 listed and then suggest any player I missed! And get started on those winter beards for goodness sake.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sensible Soccer's Special Saturday December 18th Salute

A special salute goes out to AC Milan's VP Adriano Galliani for giving AS Roma this beautiful man over the summer:
Marco Borriello
Which allowed him to completely get revenge for riding the bench at Milan for 2 seasons when he scored and won the game for his new side (who loves him)!

And another salute has to go out to this man:
Claudio Ranieri
Even though he always looks scared and nervous, Ranieri is a wonderful tactician who brilliantly orchestrated the team's tactics to stall Milan on this day. Bravo Claudio!

That's all from me on this fun-filled Saturday. It's always fun when Roma wins. Arreverderci!


Who actually cares about the Club World Cup? Absolutely no one.
Inter beat a horrible team from Africa to win this ridiculous waste of a competition in the middle of the season...Good job, assholes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Countdown to the Draw

This is your one day warning - the Round of 16 draw is set for tomorrow, December 17th, at 12pm CET (6am EST). Now it's UEFA's turn to waste an hour picking little balls out of a punch bowl.
I found a wonderful article on UEFA's website detailing possible match-ups that is way better than my last post. Some eye-openers include Arsenal's 50% chance of playing a Spanish giant, Chelsea's likelihood of drawing annoying Italians, and Valencia's big chance to have a relatively easy route to the quarters. Check out the article here. And yes, I did pilfer the above picture from this article.

Any predictions for the draw?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Champions League Roundup: Who's In, Who's Hot, and Who's Not

The UEFA Champions League is heating up, people. Group winners and runner-ups have been established and are ready for the Round of 16 drawing on Friday, December 17th. There were some frills, thrills, and surprises in this year's Group Stage, which I will touch upon in a light analysis of each team that has progressed. But first, please see the official seedings for the day of the draw, listed below.
Pot 1 (Group Winners)
Barcelona (D)
Man Utd. (C)
Chelsea (F)
Bayern Munich (E)
Real Madrid (G)
Shakhtar Donetsk (H)
Tottenham (A)
Schalke 04 (B)

Pot 2 (Runners-up)

Arsenal (H)
Inter Milan (A)
AC Milan (G)
O. Lyon (B)
Roma (E)
Valencia (C)
Marseille (F)
Copenhagen (D)

Pot 1 teams are paired with Pot 2 teams, and teams from the same country can not play each other. And now, the hopefuls:

Group A

1 Tottenham
The Spurs emphatically ended their first Champions League Group Stage in decades by taking first place in Group A. Coupled with holders Inter and a strong Bremen squad, Tottenham excitingly barreled, Gareth Bale style, to a place in the final 16. My only negative for Tottenham is how many goals they conceded (11 - other group winners gave up 6 at most). This could prove dangerous in two-legged play. Based on the seedings, I am hopeful of the North Londeners at very least getting to the Quarterfinals. Come on you Spurs!
Bale leaving Maicon for dead (1 of 3,000)
2 Inter Milan
Inter lackadaisically waltzed through to the Round of 16 in a group which they should have easily taken first in. Their horror-show in Germany on the last day of group play and thumping at the hands of Tottenham proves the champions will not repeat. I would put $1m on them crashing out in the first round of the knockouts. All I can do is laugh a hearty, Romanista laugh. Sorry, Rafa.

Group B

1 Schalke 04
I love German teams that have numbers in their names, which is why I'm thrilled that Schalke 04 has progressed to the Round of 16. The club is inexplicably underachieving in the Bundesliga (10th), but had a positive string of results in the UCL to boost morale. The combination of summer signings Raúl and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar have accounted for half the side's goals in UCL play. Even with their accomplishment, I don't think the Bundesliga side a big chance of making a run for the final this year. Group B was one of the weaker groups in the competition and the squad does not hold the pedigree of bigger clubs to see them through the coming pressure-filled matches.

2 Olympique Lyonnais
The once French powerhouse, Lyon, have qualified for the knockouts for an eighth consecutive year (impressive)! Though I felt they should have come out clear winners in this group, the Ligue 1 squad coasted through this simple group to second place. C'est la vie in the Round of 16.

Group C

Manchester United
United are making waves in the fabled European competition again, folks. With a stalwart defense (1 goal conceded) and the right results, the Red Devils went tops in tricky Group C. Sir Alex's men are a squad to fear in the Round of 16, with such tight defending and a workman-like ethic. Not to mention they are bound to get better as the year progresses. There is a good chance United will be vying for the title at Wembley in May.
Nemanja Vidic: defense is desire
2 Valencia
David-less (Villa & Silva) Valencia coasted through Group C to a realistic runners-up spot. They won games they needed to versus Bursapor and Rangers, and held United to a draw in their last match. A nice campaign thus far for a team that lost it's favorite Davids this past summer. 

Group D

The Catalan super-club made it into the knockout stage as group winners - what a surprise. Can you sense my sarcasm? There is no doubt that this tight-knit Spanish squad is destined, at the very least, for the quarterfinals. I don't think they require further analysis. Can you tell I hate Barcelona?

2 FC Copenhagen
What a delightful shocker! The minnows have progressed to become the first Danish team to reach the knockout round! No easy feat, considering their group mates were the aforementioned Spaniards and two lower-tier teams, Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos, that I still consider better than Copenhagen. The lively Danes won the games they had to and recorded a sensational draw against Barca. These guys truly deserve the knockouts. 
Group E

Bayern Munich
One of the best competing teams so far, FC Hollywood qualified for the knockouts weeks before any other squad. They performed as expected in one of the easier groups of the competition. My question is: can they beat one or two of the big boys and get back to the final this year? 

2 AS Roma
After shooting themselves in the foot, then playing good, then shooting themselves in the foot again, then playing good again, the Giallorossi finally emerged as knockout stage contestants. It has been a topsy-turvy campaign for Ranieri's men, but with some gusto and a vital smash and grab job against Munich at Olimpico, the Italians are in it to win it. If they bring the same fighting spirit they displayed against Bayern, there's no telling where this ever-so-progressing squad can go. I have a terrible feeling about the Roman's luck, though: we will draw Barcelona

Group F

The Blues soared to the top spot in a very predictable group. Though their form has taken a dip of late, the Ancelotti led Londoners have a lot to look forward to. With Lampard coming back from injury and the squad preparing to kick it into champion-winning gear, I would not discount Chelsea from booking a trip to the final in May.
Friggin' baby
2 Olympique Marseille
It's all happening so fast for the French champions! They went on to stun the country and win Ligue 1 last year and have now cruised into the Round of 16. In a crucial last game in which OM had to grab a point off of Chelsea, they went on to beat them! They are playing well and gaining major momentum. Marseille could make some waves in the knockouts.

Group G

1 Real Madrid
The most impressive team of the tournament so far, Madrid made being a group winner look easy. It did not matter for Mourinho's squad that they were in the hardest group of the competition, as they dispatched every team effortlessly, with the exception of a draw with Milan at San Siro. The galácticos are back. Led by Cristiano Ronaldo, who can't seem to stop scoring at the moment, this Madrid is poised to vie for the trophy. I believe Mourinho will be kissing hardware for a second straight year in May.
Ronaldo and Ozil celebrate
2 AC Milan
Given the difficulty of this group, it is an accomplishment for Milan to have progressed. But, the way they just scathed by, is worrisome. Earning just 8 points in 6 games, the Rossoneri were lucky to get into the Round of 16. Nonetheless, they are in and building momentum with each passing day. Could this be the year Ibra brings his team the trophy?

Group H

1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Arguably the biggest surprise of the UCL, the Ukrainian powerhouse spectacularly overcame Arsenal to win Group H. Hats off to Shakhtar for getting the job done. Luckily, they will avoid some tremendous squads in the first knockout stage and reach for the stars! Very exciting news for Ukrainian Football.

2 Arsenal
Dismal, incorrigible, embarrassing, unacceptable...those are some words Arsenal fans were using after their team's shocking losses to Braga and Shakhtar in the latter stages of group play. Arsene Wenger's squad dreadfully came second best in one of the weaker groups in the tournament. The fact that Arsenal is in the second drawing pot could be deadly for the Gunner's, as the potential for facing powerful teams is higher.
Arsenal face-plant
Stay tuned this Friday for UEFA's drawing. Let's hope FIFA doesn't show up and find some way to screw this thing up. 

More to come re: UCL Round of 16 match-ups. I'm getting giddy just thinking about it. Adios, friends.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ballon d'Or (Part 1): Disappointment is Brewing

Wesley Sneijder: Club & Country Hero

The decision for this year's Ballon d'Or winner has not been made yet and, as I foresaw in my previous Ball of Gold post, I am severely disappointed. As expected, Wesley Sneijder, the man who should be lifting hardware again, has been snubbed. 

Either Xavi, Iniesta, or Messi will win the coveted award this year, as FIFA selected the Barcelona trio as finalists from the 23-man shortlist. I can't wrap my head around why Sneijder has not been included in the final 3. If he was and either Xavi or Iniesta won the award, I would accept it (begrudgingly) given their club and World Cup winning efforts. But no, FIFA does something dumb for the millionth time in the last month and neglects to acknowledge a player who should in fact win this award, let alone be a finalist for it. Even Xavi agrees

I found a blog post on Football Italia highlighting this situation. The blogger asserted that there was "no disgrace" in this snub. He obviously has mental problems. His arguments were not opinion, but fact. He reviewed past World Cup year's Ballon d'Or winners and most of the time, the players who won the award were World Cup winners that year (Cannavaro, 2006; Ronaldo, 2002; Zidane, 1998; etc...). He then failed completely in his argument when he described Sneijder's rocky start to this year's campaign. Why would that matter, moron? His overarching argument is that it's normal for FIFA to snub players during World Cup years, so there is "no disgrace" involved. I disagree completely. This award should be given to the player who made the greatest impact on their respective teams. I believe that player is Sneijder, therefore I find disgrace in this snub. Read this retarded blog post and resulting comments tearing this asshole to shreds, here.

FIFA is despicable. Please stay tuned for 'Part 2' of this post, which I imagine will be called "Disappointment Brewed Bitterly," or something of that nature. Finally, I leave you with this image, which explains a lot:

FIFA President Sepp Blatter

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Marco Borriello: Lessons on Scoring Goals

Borriello ices Cluj twice in Champions League play, teaching us the art of finishing:

Yesterday's Match

September 28th

Thanks, Marco.
"That's how I roll, ragazzi"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top 5 Transfer Thoughts

Mes amis,

We are at a point in the season where we can analyze the value of summer signings. Below, I will identify my top 5 signings, flops, and players to watch during the January transfer window.

Top 5 signings of the summer

(5) Marouane Chamakh Arsenal
Arsenal fans should be celebrating the roll of the dice it took for Arsene Wenger to acquire Chamakh for free over the summer. After offering Bordeaux a mere £7m in the summer of 2009 for the towering striker, the French tactician held strong and gambled on getting Chamakh for free after his contract expired. It all came to pass and the rest is history. Arsenal sits atop the Premier League and the Moroccan striker has 11 goals in all competitions to his name. A wonderful start in English football, I'd say.

(4) Mesut Özil Real Madrid

One of Mourinho's first big signings of the summer, Özil has become a driving force behind Real Madrid's attack. If you've watched any La Liga games featuring the German maestro and his star studded comrades, you undoubtedly have noticed his superb impact on the squad. In particular, he links very well with Ronaldo and Higuain, which is important for any attacking midfielder hoping to remain in the starting 11 at the Bernabéu. Özil has gained the admiration of the fans, his peers, and the manager. It will be interesting to see what happens when Kaka gets healthy.

(3) David Villa Barcelona
Villa is one of the most accomplished strikers in world soccer, so it's no surprise that he is on this list. Not only does he always have cool hair, but he always puts the ball in the back of the net! Picking up from a great season at Valencia and a lively World Cup, Villa has scored 10 goals in all competitions for Barcelona. The Spanish international has been eased into Catalan life by many of his national peers, who feature heavily in the squad. Villa could have been number one on my list, but I factored in the ridiculously good supporting cast he has to work with.

(2) Zlatan Ibrahimovic AC Milan
Do you know this Zlatan? Well, I do. The imposing Swedish hardman, who can pretty much be considered a gun for hire, is back in the Serie A, frustrating opposing defenses. Anywhere Ibra goes, he scores. With 11 goals in all competitions, Zlatan has steered AC Milan to the top of the Serie A table, and can be considered a top summer signing. I give kudos to the VP of Milan, Adriano Galliani, for orchestrating some major deals on the last day of the window.

(1) Rafael Van der Vaart Tottenham
The number one signing of the summer transfer window has to be Rafael Van der Vaart. A stirring last minute acquisition on deadline day, VdV has captivated the crowd at White Hart Lane and become an integral part of Tottenham's success. Aside from controlling play in the midfield, the crafty Dutchman currently has 8 goals in all competitions. I give major credit to Van der Vaart for pulling his team up the Premier League table and getting them out of their Champions League group stage with relative ease. He is my number one based on the comparative impact he has on his squad. I am excited to see how much more Van der Vaart can give to the Tottenham cause.

Honorable Mention
Sami Khedira, Real Madrid, David Silva, Manchester City; Mario Balotelli, Manchester City, Marco Borriello, Roma; Alberto Aquilani, Juventus; Milan Krasic, Juventus; Diego, Wolfsburg.

Top 5 flops 

(5) Jermaine Beckford Everton
With Leeds United, Beckford had a strike rate of approximately 86 goals in 190 games. Unfortunately, this was throughout English Division One and the Championship. Everton gambled in buying the polished striker and it has not really paid off. Beckford has just 2 goals in league play and Everton are currently hovering above the drop zone. I believe there is still hope for Beckford, given his great equalizer against Chelsea over the weekend. Perhaps he just needs time to get used to the big league.

(4) Thierry Henry/Rafa Marquez New York Red Bull
I mashed these two flops together because they play in the MLS, and boy, do they deserve it. I was certain my beloved Red Bulls would win the MLS cup this year after signing Henry and Marquez, but no, we didn't even come close. I imagined Henry tearing through defenses and Marquez shutting down whole midfields. Instead, these two were outplayed by the likes of Dane Richards on a weekly basis. Shameful for men of their caliber and sad to say that they are both in the twilight of their careers. 

(2) Yossi Benayoun Chelsea
Is Yossi Benayoun actually on Chelsea? I can't be too sure, since I don't think I've ever seen him on the pitch donning a blue uni. Benayoun hasn't flopped completely, but he certainly was a top flop signing, in that he hardly sees the field. The poor Israeli worked his way up to become an integral starter at Liverpool, only to sign with Chelsea and be back at the bottom of the pecking order. Yossi, what were you thinking by making this move? Come back to Anfield, sweet boy. 

(2) Christian Poulsen Liverpool
I hate this man and nothing makes me happier then to profile him as a flop. After leaving Juventus, a team I'm not sure why he was on, Christian Poulsen was lucky enough to sign with another high-caliber team he should not be privy to, Liverpool. Why was this waste of space signed? He hardly features and when he does, is constantly outplayed by the odd looking Brazilian, Lucas, which is certainly not a compliment (though Lucas is playing better). Liverpool needs to stop patching up the holes that Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano left and sign a few really good holding midfielders.

(1) Adriano Roma
Adriano is the number one flop of the summer transfer window. He also happens to be the fattest flop. The out of shape striker was brought to Roma in hopes that he would rejuvenate his career while pushing the capital club passed their runners-up status to the top of the Serie A. It hasn't exactly worked out. Adriano's weight training over the summer was a huge failure, as he devoured gelato from every gelateria in the commune of Rome after each hard days work. Though his appearance over the weekend showed a glimmer of hope, it might have just been hunger misdirected. You Adriano, are a huge flop.

Top 5 players to watch in January

(5) Dirk Kuyt Liverpool
The Dutch dangerman could be on the move this January. There were rumors all summer about his potential move to Inter and there has been talk involving other teams, including Roma, as of late. I personally do not see Dirk leaving Liverpool just yet, but we'll soon see. 

(4) Emmanuel Adebayor Manchester City
It's no surprise the media's attention is turned toward Manchester City as the transfer window approaches. After all, they could buy the whole country of England if they wanted to. This winter could be the perfect time for giant, enthusiastic one-minute, mopey the next, striker Emmanuel Adebayor to get his Man City exit. He is hardly first choice with the gaffer, Roberto Mancini, and seemingly written of City. Frankly, Ade deserves better. Let's hope to see some cash splash in this deal so we can see Adebayor storming full pitches in celebration again.

(3) Federico Marchetti Cagliari

The highly rated Italian shot-stopper will definitely end up moving during the winter transfer period. Shockingly, Marchetti has been permanently benched in Sardinia after a falling out with club directors and staff. He has not even managed one game. I find this extraordinarily unbelievable, since he is considered a capable number two to Gigi Buffon for la Nazionale (he even started 2 games in South Africa). I think it is ridiculous when players are frozen out like this. It hurts the players form and resulting pricetag. Best of luck in January, Signore Marchetti.

(2) Edin Dzeko Wolfsburg
Will this man be a permanent rumor-mill or finally get the hell out of Germany? Edin Dzeko is a talented, strong striker who can score any sort of goal. He is the adoration of many top clubs around Europe and ready to spread his wings and win major hardware. I think if Manchester City sells Adebayor early in January, they will take a shot at Dzeko this winter. For christsakes Edin, end all the speculation. 

(1) Antonio Cassano Sampdoria
FantAntonio is 99% likely to be sold the minute the transfer window opens on Jan. 1. He apparently said something so horrible to Sampdoria's President, Riccardo Garrone, that he is not even allowed in the stands during games. This is insane, given his contribution to the team and growing presence in la Nazionale. I had a dream that he would sensationally re-sign with Roma, but I'm not sure it's possible for a city to have two egos the size of his and Totti's in it. In any event, the Italian playmaker is hot property and has a better temperament than in years passed. He would be an exciting addition to any team. What the hell did you say, Cassanata?

So, who'd I miss?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Qatar 2022............

Words like 'favorite, front runner, odds-on, and shoe-in,'  were used to describe the USA's likelihood of hosting the World Cup in 2022. We had Landon Donovan sending every human in the United States emails from his BBM. We had former President Bill Clinton rubbing elbows with FIFA reps and their lovely wives. We even had Morgan Freeman singing like a songbird on behalf of the bid. How did this happen?

Qatar 2022
I pray that vuvuzelas are a thing of the past in 12 years.

There are definitely powerful political components involved with this result. Amid various reports indicating the corruption of FIFA officials by countries vying for the honor of hosting a World Cup, Sepp Blatter, FIFA's dictator, pushed the vote ahead regardless. WIKILEAKS - get to work on FIFA, will you?

It was disturbing to think I would be nearing 40 during the potential 2022 World Cup in the United States, but I came to terms with it. Now I'll be lucky if I don't have to piss 4 times a half while dealing with an ungrateful bastard of an adult son or something.

This sucks. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ballon d'Or 2010: Diego Alberto who?

The Ballon d'Or is absolutely ridiculous this year. FIFA has yet to decide on a winner and I can tell I am going to be furious with the result.

In case you didn't already know, the Ballon d'Or, or Golden Ball, is the top individual accolade a footballer can win. The FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d'Or were kept separate until this year, but now have joined forces to create a super mega-award. Unfortunately it is already clear by FIFA's omission of Diego Alberto Milito from their 23-man shortlist that they have no idea what they are doing. Lets prepare for disappointment.

The list
Ball of Gold
Andrés Iniesta Luján
Xabi Alonso
Mesut Özil
Diego Forlán Corazo
Lionel Messi
David Villa
Philipp Lahm
Cristiano Ronaldo

Bastian Schweinsteiger
Julio César
Daniel Alves
Carles Puyol
Asamoah Gyan
Thomas Müller
Cesc Fàbregas
Didier Drogba
Wesley Sneijder
Miroslav Klose
Iker Casillas
Arjen Robben

Who's missing

Diego Alberto Milito, clowning around 
Diego Alberto Milito. It pains me to build a case for Milito, since I absolutely detest Inter, but the above list without Il Principe is a disgrace. Let's quickly highlight Milito's stellar season last year:
32 goals in all competitions 
Most Importanly:
22 Serie A
Champions League
title winning goals ( 1 goal vs. Siena to win the Serie Agoal against Roma to win the Coppa Italiagoals against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League)

So, Milito knocks in 32 goals including all the goals that allow Inter to call themselves treble winners and is not on the list. Preposterous. 

Who should be missing
Asamoah Gyan. I find it comical that the 24 year old Ghanian hitman from Sunderland is on this list. I'm not even sure why he is being considered, especially over Milito. He did score a few big goals for Ghana in South Africa, but does this really merit him being on the list? 

Eto'o...oh Eto'o. First of all, you are a crybaby. Stop crying. Secondly, I'll give you credit - anywhere you are, you win. That said, in no way, shape, or form was Eto'o better than Milito last year. He did play a huge role in the treble winning season, but not as big as Milito. So again...FIFA..WHY? 

Could this be a case of politics in the footballing world? The world soccer community needs to have every federation represented, it seems. 

Who should win
Truthfully, the winner of this award should be Wesley Sneijder. Milito or not, Sneijder should be lifting this trophy in the coming months. He orchestrated Inter's treble and got Holland to the World Cup Final. Milito may have scored crucial goals, but Sneijder pulled the strings to grant him chances. 
Wesley Sneijder, kissing triumph
If not Sneijder, it better be Diego Forlán. This man single-handedly won Athletico Madrid the Europa Cup with a few late-great winners and amazingly got Uruguay a lick of paint away from a 3rd place finish at the World Cup (possibly). The brandishing of his wash board abs being his only detriment, it's hard to imagine anyone else on this list other than Sneijder who had a greater impact on their respective teams comparatively.
Diego Forlan, Wondering where he can score from next
If neither of these two win I will lose all faith in FIFA and consider them another ridiculous, burecratic governing body. Predictions anyone?

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Poacher's Goal

Some people like a well worked, team goal. Some people, an unstoppable drive from outside the 18. But a rare few of us appreciate a real poacher's goal.

The idea to blog on this matter came to me directly after my coed team's 3-0 win Thursday night. In the game, I scored a real poacher's goal. I read a bounce which I figured would soar over the last defender and put me through on the keeper. My calculations were right and the job was easy from there, as I coolly slotted the ball home. The taste of a goal like this, was delicious. I have scored all sorts of goals during various stages of my soccer life, but scoring a true poacher's goal last night brought me back to why I freakin' love these kind of goals.

Whether it be reading a potential error in play, testing the offsides line, or simply being in the right place at the right time in the area, goal poaching brings dividends. Consider Milan hitman Filippo Inzaghi (pictured above), who Sir Alex Ferguson claims was "born offside." Super Pippo has scored crucial goals for club and country, winning every footballing title know to man.  He has lived every players dream (and one which few achieve):  winning the domestic league, domestic cup, Champions League and World Cup. After that, what else is there?  He's made a living dancing along the offsides line and picking up any scraps in or around the 6-yd box. He is crafty, well-positioned, and ready to pounce at the whim of possibility. Here are a few reasons why we should appreciate players like this more:  

1) They are smart and opportunistic.
Transforming a small chance into a big reward exudes quality. Poachers mix instinct with insight, giving them the ability to read and foresee a goal from the smallest opportunity.  

2) They win games (big ones too).
Ronaldo in the World Cup Final of 2002.  Inzaghi in the Champions Leauge Final of 2007. Zlatan on the last day of the Serie A, MULTIPLE years.  Big players poaching in huge games to bring home titles for their teams and fans.

3) They are exciting!
Seeing a poacher snatch a goal out of nothing brings the crowd to it's feet! I felt good after scoring on Thursday and it was primarily because I scored in this manner. Flashing into a situation and coming out with a goal to your name is exciting for all but the opposition (sorry losers).

4) They keep teams honest.
Nothing haunts me more then seeing someone like Pippo or Ibra bag a goal out of nowhere against my beloved Lupi. It is frustrating to be pitted against that 'right place, right time, somehow he scored striker' and watch as he runs to the sideline in celebration. However, a poacher's existence, as irritating as it may be, keeps teams on their toes.

I feel extra credit must be given to instinctual, split second thinking. A poacher's goal, or what one we might call an opportunistic goal, lives on this thinking. So give props to those who score them, people (ME ME ME ME)!

Please stay tuned for the next edition of Sensible Soccer where I'll slide-tackle (two-footed) the Ballon d'Or sham, 2010.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Welcome to Sensible Soccer

Hello friends,

Welcome to my fruitful attempt at a meaningful soccer blog!  The purpose of Sensible Soccer is to inform you about anything and everything related to football (soccer, to the common Americanista) in a passionate, screaming manner, much like Daniele De Rossi, inset right.  I plan on weighing in on some issues which are a) topping headlines b) delighting me c) pissing me off or d) important to you.

For the purpose of healthy, open-minded conversation, I encourage people who actually read SS to give their unabashed opinions.  I would rather this be a "360 blog" than a one dimensional "me tell you" blog.  I look forward to some spirited banter and ultimately getting the better of you (or not)!  So make your voice heard like DDR, baby.  

Some context: I am a Romanista at heart, so do not mess with the Giallorossi on this blog.  Only kind strokes to Totti's ego and Lazio shit-talking are permitted.  Other than that, anything goes.  I hope to post a few topics per week, but can not assure anything.  Furthermore, I would appreciate kind suggestions on hot topics in the soccer world to cover.

Thanks and I hope you stop by again!