Friday, March 9, 2007

Weekend Preview, Three Derbies But No Horses Edition

Thankfully Arsenal do not play this weekend, as it is the FA Cup Quarterfinals. Matchups here if you are interested. A break is definitely needed after the frustration of the last 2 weeks, not to mention this wonderful bit of news.

Don't count me among the impossible-to-please haters,
Titi. I appreciate all that you did this year, and I for one
think that 12 goals in 24 matches is damn impressive.
Get well mon ami.

But not a break from footy, as there are no less than three classic derbies this weekend, all of which would make anyone's list of the top 10 footy rivalries in the world. Any one of them easily crushes Red Sox-Yankees, UNC-Dook, OhioState-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn, or any other US sports rivalry as far as intensity. If you are the type who doesn't necessarily love soccer per se but are fascinated by it's affect on societies where it is played as well as the cultural, political, religious, and socio-economic signifigance it holds, then these club rivalries are right up your alley. Oh, and the footy should be great as well.

***Update: Shit, I am a moron - Barca-Real is Sat at 1 p.m. PST not Sunday. Very sorry***

*Note that we change our clocks this weekend but Europe does not, so I am not sure if has already made the adjustment for the Sunday matches or not.

El Clasico
Barcelona-Real Madrid
Saturday 1 p.m. PST
Both giants of European football were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League at midweek, so this latest iteration of El Classico begins the hotly contested run-in for the La Liga title, with Barca in 2nd place and Real not far behind in 4th. With only 6 points separating the top 4 clubs {the others being top of the table Sevilla and 3rd place Valencia}, this is far and away the most interesting title chase in Europe this spring. Must see TV.

Old Firm
Sunday 7 a.m. PST
Setanta closed circuit TV
Not much to play for here but pride, as Celtic are 973 points clear at the top of the SPL table. But pride is everything in the rivalry, perhaps the most intense in all of the world.

Milan Derby
Inter Milan - AC Milan
Sunday 7 a.m. PST
Can Milan stop Inter's possibly historic undefeated season? Inter have already sewed up the Italian league while Milan battle for a Champions League spot, but Milan just advanced in this year's CL while Inter were dumped out. They also share the same stadium which always makes things interesting, as the lines between home and road match are blurred and both sets of fans view the San Siro as their 80,000 seat cathedral. Oh, and this is the fist Milan derby in red & black for former Inter legend Ronaldo, which in and of itself is worth watching. During his 5 years at Inter he was the best player in the world, the gave him his nickname Il Phenomenino, and their fans would taunt the opposition simply by singing "We have The Phenomenon, and you do not." They also stood by him through not 1 but 2 horrible knee injuries, only for him to bolt to Real Madrid after the World Cup in 2002. And now he is back in Milan playing in the San Siro, but for the wrong team -the enemy. As a result the atmosphere will be even more intense than usual, and it is plenty intense to begin with: remember, this is the rivalry that gave us this infamous scene 2 years back. More great background info on Ronaldo's return and this weekends match here.

Also, not sure if this is historically a big rivalry or not, but it is a massive match nontheless between two of the top 4 teams battling for the German league title.

Bayern Munich - Werder Bremen
Sunday 9 a.m. PST

Oh, and...

Red Stripes - SF Scousers
Sunday 11 a.m. PST
TV blackout
Kanu's out of shape ass returns after nearly a month off, so keeping the embarrassment to a minimum will be the main objective here.

Y'all have a wonderful weekend.

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