Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Italy: Champions Of Europe, Champions Of The World, Champions Of Cheating, and Pretty Damn Good At Violence, Too

On August 24, 2006, the day of the Champions League draw, I wrote this:

In another interesting twist, AC Milan drew a joke of a group that they will walk through with ease: Lille, AEK Athens, Anderlecht. Definitely the easiest draw of all of the top seeds. As I have said before, listen for grumbling to grow louder and louder as they progress in a competition that they have no business being a part of in the first place, and don't be at all surprised if in some twisted sort of ironic-bizarro-karma they go on to win the whole thing after being {rightfully} banned and then {wrongfully and shamefully} allowed back in on appeal.

And today it came true.

AC Milan 2-1 Liverpool

What a year for Italian football. Last year at this time was the mondo corruption scandal, followed by a World Cup triumph, then to everyone's surprise harsh penalties were handed out for the offending clubs, then to no one's surprise they were reduced several times after 98 appeals by the clubs and some serious shenanigans by Italian football officials, the entire Italian league was shut down by the prime minister after mounting fan violence culminated with the killing of a policeman, Roman police beat the everloving shit out of traveling ManUtd fans that didn't seem to be doing a whole hell of a lot, and now the team that was initially ruled ineligible for the Champions League, but then let back in on their umpteenth appeal, are the champions of Europe.

So we can pretty much throw out the old cliche "Winners never cheat, and cheaters never win", although truth be told that maxim has been made null and void many, many moons ago.

Oh, the match? It was mildly entertaining I suppose. Milan went up 1-0 just before halftime when an Andrea Pirlo free kick took a lucky and unintentional deflection off of Pippo Inzaghi's shoulder and went into the net. Memo to the moron in the pub incessantly bitching about it being a handball: go back to 2nd grade and learn that the shoulder/collarbone area and the hand/arm are mutually exclusive body parts.

Zenden and Kuyt were total rubbish- I am surprised that Kewell and then Crouch did not come on sooner. Milan doubled their lead in the 83rd minute when Kaka played Inzaghi through with a beautiful pass, and Inzaghi rounded the keeper and slotted home at a tricky angle. Classic Inzaghi- a striker who can go an entire match without doing shit, but give him one good chance and it is likely that he will punish your ass. Outside of that one move for the 2nd goal, he did absolutely nothing except get lucky with the deflection that created the first goal. Unless you count his completely shameful and Rivaldo-esque fall down, roll around, and act shot to waste time routine after a Harry Kewell cross hit him in the stomach in the last few minutes.

So for a few minutes I looked like a genius with my 2-0 prediction, but then in the 89th minute Kuyt headed in a corner that was headed first by Agger, then deflected off of Maldini's dome to Dirk, who headed past Dida. A bing-bang-boom pinball of a goal setting up an exciting final few minutes. But nothing came of it and that was that.

Did anyone else notice that the referee called for 3 minutes of added time, but then blew the whistle at 2.44 even though there was a time-wasting substitution {time is usually added on for this} by Milan in extra time? Yes, it's only 15-45 seconds, but still that was pretty strange for any match, let alone a European Cup final, or a European Cup Final involving a team known throughout history to have influenced many a referee. I am not saying that this is proof of any shenanigans, only that it struck me as a bit odd.

So Milan have won the European title for the 7th time, placing them 2nd all time behind only Real Madrid's 9. Congratulations, I guess.

The one good bit of news is that UEFA have voted to amend their rules and now have the power to refuse a team from the Champions League sent up to them by a national association, so we shouldn't see something this silly again.


moin said...

Not only was the ball off his shoulder, the key thing was that his arms weren't extended away from his body when the ball struck him, meaning if Pippo had been born with some unfortunate defect and missing one arm, the goal would have still gone in.

I was happier seeing Milan and especially Maldini lifting the Cup though. Shame he wasn't there for the WC. He's about the only Italian player I can stand. I don't know what I'd do with Serie A if he retires.

Kanu said...

Absolutely, which made it even more annoying that this fool wouldn't shut up about it being a handball.

I am also a big fan of Maldini, always has seemed classy to me, which in Italy is so rare. And if I was a female or gay male I would fancy him as a hottie as well.

Anonymous said...

it's classy wins a world cup and champions league....italians do it best

beast in 'bama said...

Kanu, your assessment of Inzaghi pretty much sums up my opinion of the match: Liverpool dominated play throughout, but Inzaghi (and his teammates) took full advantage of the only chances he (they) had.

In my mind, the first Milan goal and the lone Liverpool effort cancel each other out - pinball luck, both of them. But the second Milan goal was opportunistic and cunning, so I have no real qualms about Milan winning.

I'm disappointed, but really looking forward to seeing what Rafa does with a real war chest this summer. Combined with Wenger's loot (per your other post) and the usual activities of Chel$ea and ManUtd, things will get interesting.

DC Trojan said...

I bet you didn't put money on AC Milan winning at the beginning of the tournament... next time you should harness your instincts for financial gain.

The worst part of all of this is that it only ecourages that swine Berlusconi. Urgh.

Kanu said...

If only my instincts weren't wrong more often than not...