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UEFA Cup observations March 12, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer, European soccer, French soccer, German soccer, Italian soccer, Portuguese soccer, Spanish soccer.
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I don’t care about the UEFA Cup. I care so little about it that I refuse to acknowledge its nonsensical name-change, which I assume UEFA made because this tournament is such a shameful farce that European soccer’s governing body no longer wanted to be associated with it. The most damning evidence is the recent triumphs from the former Soviet Union, largely a consequence of the fact that nobody good actually cares about this competition, meaning the fittest side (i.e. Ukrainian and Russian teams whose season has historically started about this time of year) often wins.

Because I don’t care about it, I didn’t watch it today, aside from about 10 snooze-inducing minutes of Liverpool vs. Lille I squeezed in before my class. That was definitely the biggest mistake of the day. So here’s 10 half-assed observations:

  • Liverpool is really, really bad. Seriously. Stevie Gerrard is closing on 30 and I think Liverpool may have intentionally signed a clutch of woeful players to disguise the fact that he is now past it. It’s not really anyone’s fault except whoever it is that keeps stopping the club from building a new stadium that can generate the kind of revenue the other big English teams’ arenas do. Oh, also the owners. These factors have colluded to inflict a truly wretched team to watch upon the rest of us.
  • French advertising laws: kind of a good thing. Liverpool has always had to wear special shirts stripped of Carlsberg’s logo for trips to France, because alcoholic beverages can’t be advertised there. As a free-speech fan, I am against this. As someone who thinks uniforms look better with fewer logos, I am for this. Nonetheless, someone in Liverpool’s organization is an idiot for not arranging a separate, incremental sponsorship deal for away games in France.
  • Wait, where did David Navarro come from? I thought the Valencia defender had been exiled to the second division for his behavior against Inter a couple of years ago. Shouldn’t he still be serving a lengthy European ban? I guess not, cause guess who started for los Che against Werder Bremen today. You’d have to think either a.) there’s some happy redemption story in there somewhere; or b.) Valencia’s standards have fallen since the days of Roberto Ayala.
  • Standard Liege: dark horse? I didn’t watch the Belgians play Panathinaikos, but I did see them several times in the Champions League this season, and I like them. Certainly, them winning it would be a lot cooler than anyone else doing so. With all the amazing young players coming out of Flanders, that victory might even be the herald of a new dawning in Belgian soccer, if the country can get its act together.
  • My pre-season UEFA Cup prediction’s not looking so hot. Taking a 1-1 draw into an away leg’s not really good news for any side. I predicted Benfica would win it this year, simply because of a front five too good for the Portuguese league. But the gentleman over at Zonal Marking.net said Benfica’s quality in Portugal stems in part from the namby-pamby style of play in Portugal and I guess coming up against a muscular Marseille wasn’t their cup of tea.
  • Atletico Madrid can’t break down 10 men. I guess they’re just a laughingstock, no?
  • Do the Dutch hate Belgians? Two of Hamburg’s scorers against Anderlecht were Dutch.
  • Fulham’s result is a bad thing. Does Juventus really care about the UEFA Cup? Because Fulham does. Just saying.
  • Where did Grafite go? I’m not bothering to check, but he played against Ireland recently. That meant 89-year-old Obefemi Martins in Wolfsburg’s starting lineup.
  • Unirea Urziceni should be here.
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