Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's 1996 {and 2005} All Over Again

Olympic Gold Medal Match
Friday August 22nd 9 pm PST

The Olympic gold medal match will be worth watching if you can find it among NBC's ever confusing and frustratingly vague television schedule. The game is Saturday at midnight Eastern/9 pm Friday PST. Recent practice has been to show the matches "live" on the east coast on Telemundo and then again 3 hours later for the West Coast, also on Telemundo; if that holds then it will be right at midnight in the East and then shown also at midnight out West 3 hours later {don't even get me started on the stupidity of NBC showing their "live" coverage on 3 hour tape delay on the West Coast- it's 37 flavors of stupid and irritating}.

Now then, the playoffs have been very good thusfar. Argentina squaked by Netherlands 2-1 in extra time in the quarterfinals, a great match. Cameroon took Brasil to extra time 0-0, despite being a man down, before succumbing 0-2 in extra time, Nigeria beat African rivals Ivory Coast 2-0, and amazingly massive underdog Belgium beat Italy, in in incredible fashion- they went a man down and a goal down in the 18th minute, then battled back to 1-1, fell behind 1-2 with only 16 minutes left, then scored 2 goals to beat favored Italy 3-2, all while playing with 10 men for 70+ minutes.

The semifinals the other morning weren't as close but were still entertaining nonetheless. Nigeria hammered Belgium 4-1, and played amazingly well- they could have easily scored 6 or 7 goals- it was something to watch. Then El Super Classico de Sudamerica: Brasil-Argentina, with significant star power for an Olympic game: Brasil had Ronaldinho, Anderson, Pato, Jo, and others while Argentina boasted a ridiculous midfield of Riquelme, Messi, Mascherano, and Gago. Just last summer Brasil shocked Argentina 3-0 in the final of Copa America after playing decidedly average the whole tournament while Argentina played incredible soccer. Not this time. Argentina won 3-0 and deservedly so. Riquelme. Messi & co weren't as flustered by Brasil's physical play as they were in last year's final, and Brasil were pretty poor offensively- the better team on the day certainly won.

So it's down to Argentina and Nigeria, a repeat of the 1996 Olympic final in Athens, GA's Sanford Stadium when an 18 year old named Kanu captained Nigeria to the gold medal and Nigeria came from behind twice to win 3-2 on a stoppage time goal to became the first African team to win an international competition at something above the youth level.

Kanu celebrates on the hallowed turf of Sanford Stadium, 1996

More recently, these two teams met in the final of the 2005 Under 20 World Cup, with Argentina winning 2-1 as Messi drew and then converted penalties for both Argentine goals. Since the 2008 Olympic tournament is an Under 23 tournament {each team gets 3 exemptions to this rule} many of the players on both teams will be the same from that U20 World Cup final 3 years ago. In fact, Argentina will start 5 players from this match and Nigeria a whopping 8. Side note- an interesting matchup to watch out for will be Messi v Nigerian centreback Dele Adeleye; Adeleye conceded both penalties against Messi in that final.

Argentina are also defending champions, having won the 2004 tournament in Athens, Greece with a perfect record of winning every match they played in. So we'll either see a back to back championship for Argentina or another Olympic championship for Nigeria, which would be their 2nd in the last 4 Olympics and 3 of the last 4 for Africa {Cameroon 2000}.

Surely Argentina are favorites with Riquelme, Messi, Mascherano, Gago, and company, not to mention the fact that they won the Under 20 World Cup in both 2007 and 2005, but Nigeria are certainly capable of beating them if they play well. Hopefully the match can live up to it's potential as a classic showdown.

Enjoy, if you can find it on your TV...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ils Sont Arriv├ęs

The only thing better than getting my eight 2008 ASU season tickets in the mail yesterday...

... was also getting a coupon for a free Chick Fil A sandwich at any CFA in the state of Arizona.

Although, really & truly, it should be 1 coupon per season ticket, not 1 coupon per order. No hay problema, ASU ticket office, you can send me my remaining 7 free Chick Fil A coupons to the house, or you can leave them for me at Will Call- either way.

35 days from tonight and we'll be in the desert.

Let the posting of superflous tickets to all other ASU games on Craigslist for 70% off begin!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Champions League: It's Like Lotto, You Gotta Be In It To Win It*

*annual obscure Beastie Boys sample reference when talking about CL play in games: check.

You know how the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament play in game is totally lame and no one really watches it or cares who wins?

Well imagine if March Madness {go ahead, Viacom, sue me} only had 32 teams, and there were several play in games to get to the official tourney of the final 32. That would be much more interesting and have several pretty good teams in it and some matchups worth watching.

Well, that is kind of like the Champions League, which has 32 teams each year, but several levels of qualifying to get to that final 32. The top teams in the top leagues qualify automatically, filling 16 of the 32 spots in the main event, and others have to qualify at some point. The final round of play in ties, aka the 3rd qualifying round, starts today, and pits 32 teams against each other to fill out the other 16 spots. This round features lots of big name clubs- Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, Arsenal, etc. The seeding usually favors the big clubs by pitting them against lesser competition, but anything can happen in these matchups that fall somewhere on the David-Goliath scale. For the Davids it is a chance for glory, knocking off a big name, and getting to the 'promised land' of the CL proper- not to mention a ton load of cash. For the Goliaths, it is viewed as more of a must win, both to be in the competition that they are expected to be in, and for the fact that the cash windfall is seen as more of a necessity than a bonus- hard to keep up with the Joneses without the cash and just being in the competition. The estimated cash windfall for a club who makes it is between 20-30 million pounds, so making it versus not making it is a pretty big deal on more than just the prestige front.

That being said, there are also some pretty good matchups of semi big time clubs: Schalke 04 v Atletico Madrid for example, or Sparta Prague-Panathinaikos.

In still other matchups two lesser known teams matchup with 1 guaranteed to get through to the main event. AaB v FBK Kaunas? I watch/follow alot of soccer, and I've never heard of either of these teams. Whomever wins that one will be the team that all the big clubs hope is drawn in their group in the group stage of the main event.

Anyhow, these teams are basically all in a home & home play in situation to make the Champions League Proper. The games are today and the return legs are in 2 weeks.

**Update- final scores***
Fiorentina 2-0 Slavia Prague {yesterday}
Spartak Moscow 1-4 Dinamo Kiev
Levski Sofia 0-1 BATE Borisov
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Anorthosis Famagusta 3-0 Olympiakos
AaB 2-0 FBK Kaunas
Galatasaray 2-2 Steaua Bucharest
Sparta Prague 1-2 Panathinaikos
SK Brann 0-1 Marseille
Schalke 04 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Twente Enschende 0-2 Arsenal
Juventus 4-0 Artmedia Petrzalka
Partizan Belgrade 2-2 Fenerbache
Standard Liege 0-0 Liverpool
Guimaraes 0-0 FC Basel
Barcelona 4-0 Wisla Krakow

So there it is. I know I'm pulling for BATE Borisov to make it to the Champions League proper on their name alone.

You can follow all the action at UEFA's official site. BBC's always entertaining live commentary of Twente-Arsenal and Liege-Liverpool here. Or there's always Soccernet if you like your live commentary of the "Throw in- attacking" variety.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

PV4. Just Because

{to Volare}:

VI-EIRA! Oh oh oh oh
VI-EIRA! Oh oh oh oh
He comes from Senegal
He plays for Arsenal

Wasn't feeling it today at work and came across this. After watching it, I am whole again.

PV4. Legend.

I hate that his leaving Arsenal barely preceded the proliferation of the YouTubes, cause his song was the greatest, and it always gave me chills to hear 38,000 people screaming it at the top of their lungs, and gave me mega chills when 5,000 travelling Gooners made it ring around Old Trafford loud and strong after he was wrongfully sent off by the cheating fakery of Ruud Van Nistelcunt {nice penalty, fuckface}. If PV4 had played 1 more year at Arsenal, there would be dozens of vids of his song on the internet. Oh well, you can catch a tiny glimpse of it here at the 3.20 mark and you can hear it start to ring around Highbury while they await PV4 to lead Arsenal out of the tunnel against ManUtd here.

That's it. Hopefully one day someone will post some proper versions. Until then we'll have to get by on the weird ass 1998 dancehall/euro techno version by The Away Boyz.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Feel Good Friday: I'm With Stoopid Edition

Good news: Slightly Stoopid's new album came out 2 weeks ago.

Great news: I'm going to the Slightly Stoopid concert tomorrow night at the famous Greek Theatre on the UC campus in Bezerkeley {Pepper and Sly & Robbie opening, and maybe even Expendables}.

Anyhow, here's my favorite of their latest batch of tunes, called "No Cocaine". Surely it's the stoner anthem of Summer 2008.

And as a little bonus, here is my favorite song of 2007, "2 am", which they performed live last August at the Summer Haze concert at the Greek with G Love & Ozomatli which I attended with The Hit and perhaps one day I'll write about and post some pics- it was pretty epic.

Both tunes are perfect laid back summer tunes, whether you're a total stoner or not {I'm not but I love their shit}.

Gotta rock the Kanu circa 2000 Arsenal kit tomorrow night; last spring in Petaluma the horn player wore a Zidane France jersey, which was oh so sweet, but then in midsummer up in Sacramento dude wore a freaking Spurs kit- sooooo weak. I had on Kanu that night but couldn't get close enough to talk shit or have him see it. Oh well, it's just nice to know that dude is a footy fan.

Have a great weekend, whether it involves laid back songs about ganja weed or not.


Duuuuuude... Sergio Ramos Identity Revealed

While watching Euro2008 this summer something bothered me, as it had for the past 2 or 3 seasons. Every time I saw Spain's Sergio Ramos, I knew that he looked very familiar, just like someone else, but I never could put my finger on it, and as a lookalikeophile, it really bothered me.

Fortunately, a few days after Euro2008 friend and commenter formerly known as A10 {dude , now that Adriano is no longer with InterMilan you'll need a new name ummm, nevermind} sent me an email and suddenly everything was clear. Crystal clear.

Sergio Ramos is Mitch Kramer{played by Wiley Wiggins} from the movie Dazed & Confused. Don't believe me? Regardez:

That's Mitch on the right in the Adidas tee

That's Sergio now, in his Real Madrid jersey.

QEDMF- I rest my case.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Not Dead.

One of the beautiful things about naming your blog "Dodgy At Best" is that people can't really say shit to you. You think my writing sucks? Well just look at the title- it's right there and as clear a disclaimer as one could ask for.

Haven't updated in over a month? Again, all you have to do is look up to the top of the page. Dodgy. At. Best. Duh.

Work has been mondo insano lately, but at long last it finally appears as if the powers that be are going to once again staff the office at the necessary level to make remotely possible keeping up with the work load. Plus I'm moving, and a bunch of other shit going on as well.

So once the cavalry comes to the rescue I should once again have a little free time to frolic about here on a more regular basis.

Really hoping that is sooner than later, I'd really like to knock out the "Tim Tebow: Myth vs. Reality" piece that I've been wanting to write since mid-last season. One can hope...

I resolve to be back in some form or fashion in the next week or two. Until then, I hope all is well with the 4 of you who still look over here from time to time.