Sam’s Champions League Final Preview
Today’s the day, Soccer Stoolies, when we learn once and for all which is the best club in all the land.
As is tradition, European soccer has saved the best for last as Barcelona and Juventus – the (arguably) two best clubs in the world – face off today in the Champions League final.
A word of caution about today: the risk that you will witness some blowhard on twatter and/or at your neighborhood watering hole espousing colorful opinions about how great one league (eg, La Liga) or shitty another league (eg, EPL) is inevitably gets turnt up to DEFCON6 as people start getting liquored up while watching this afternoon’s game. Do not listen to these idjits. They are trolls. Why? Well, for one thing, the list of participants in Champions League finals over the last decade, however, shows that the title of best two clubs in any given season has been shared quite frequently.
Indeed, if any conclusions can be drawn it is that the margin for error in this day and age are historically small, with one unfortunate bounce here or a dumb red card there making all the difference between the “best soccer” being played in one country or another. Don’t believe me? Look at some previous stretches of dominance:
Fact is, while these sorts of debates are inevitable, they are ultimately specious. The title of “best” has gotten back and forth among the top four nations (England, Spain, Italy and Germany) for decades. Right now at this very moment as it stands while we are talking presently the EPL and La Liga – depending on the definition you use – are out in front by a small but noticeable margin. Anybody who attempts to make more black and white judgements are ass-hats (or “bellends” in British parlance).
Anyway, point being, don’t get too caught up in the silly “EPL vs La Liga” and “Is Serie A dying?” debates, and instead enjoy the hell out of what today for what it really is: a fucking fantastically phenomenal 90 minutes of soccer.
Now on to the game…
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Some of you may have noticed I included an “arguably” when I mentioned the top two clubs in the world in the intro. The reason for that is – gun to head – I think a healthy Bayern would likely be #1(b) in the world to Barça’s #1(a) right now. But we don’t live in a perfect world. I know this because Marouane “Wet Beaver” Chamakh dates Playboy Bunnies and I date really, really hot chicks (I swear) who live in Canada.
But never mind a perfect world, and never mind complaining or even arguing about whether these are the top two clubs in the world because Barça vs Juve is such a brilliant contrast of styles and personalities that it could make for a beautiful, beautiful game, or a horrifically boring one, but eff that noise, it’s either going to be beautiful or I’m going to drink until it is.
Juventus is what old school boxing commentators would call a “live opponent” in the sense they may not be as talented as Barça, may not be as well rounded as Barça, may not have the star power of Barça – but you’d be a damn fool to suggest they don’t have a legitimate chance to win this game.
The key for the Italians will be to win the midfield, and by that I really mean bogging things down. Paul Pogba can hold his own against anyone (assuming he’s healthy), and Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio should be okay on the left and up front, respectively. I am concerned about Andrea Pirlo though, who has beautiful hair and strikes beautifuler free kicks, but old boy is… well… he’s old, and Barça’s ability to ping the ball around is going to be a real problem.
IF – a big if – Juve can somehow snag the first goal they have a shot. Alvaro Morata was the hero against Real Madrid, but if the club somehow manages to nab something this time around my best guess is it will come via my all-time favorite large-mouth bass.
If Juve fail to do so, however, look out.
Especially now that they are without the services of Georgio Chiellini (he of “He Bit Me” fame) in the back, I have to admit that – and apologies in advance to my boy Matteo Bonetti – I just can’t imagine a scenario where this turns out well for the Old Lady.
Barça is a machine right now. They have too many weapons, are too healthy, and have too much Messi, Suarez, Neymar and Messi to be stopped.
Prediction: Juve holds the fort for a while but eventually Barça nicks one via The Little Maestro, forcing the Italians to come out a bit more leading to bad things, man. Barça to win 3-0, putting a fitting exclamation point on what has been a pretty incredible season.
Note: people have been asking about some prop bets on the twitter, so here are a couple I don’t hate: goal scored in first 30 minutes (-105); Messi to score first goal (+300); over 11 corners (-110)… and maybe as a little insurance dabble in Carlos Tevez as first goalscorer.
So there it is, the last Barstool soccer preview of the 2014-15 European soccer season. Alas, bad news for all my truly beloved haters as there’s going to be plenty going on with the Women’s World Cup (preview HERE), Gold Cup, etc. to keep me busy for the two months – and counting! – til the EPL & Co. strap their boots back on and recommence pooping on TottenSam’s hopes and dreams. Can’t wait.
‘Til next time…
Samuel T. Army