If you're like Seriously, you don't know enough about soccer. Some of you are not in the know because you don't have the time and some of you simply hate the game. If you hate the game of soccer then, as a sportsman, you should be ashamed of yourself and go stand in the corner like at the end of "The Blair Witch Project." Currently, the most important soccer event in the world is Wednesday's upcoming final of the 2009 UEFA Champions League in Rome. Sports Seriously is pleased to have veteran Los Angeles/Sao Paulo based correspondent, Demitri Mantalos, with his report live from the ground in Roma.
Demitri files this:
Rome: 2009….a long way from Cleveland Ohio and some guy named King James
So here I sit, covering this sport and I wonder why most Americans, and yes I am one by birth, most Americans have no idea the coolness of the UEFA Champions League. Let’s first start off by saying that this competition, unlike the one we are experiencing at this moment in the states, does not feature guys with such interesting names like the Mamba, King James, Super Man and ‘Melo (however if you ever saw Carmelo’s Punk'd episode on MTV you’d say this guy definitely is anything but mellow but rather downright angry. I thought he was gonna choke a bitch or one of his boys was going to pistol whip someone. Note to Ashton Kutcher-not a good idea to tangle with such cats which is probably why you were smart enough to send a flunky the way you did to jump out of the closet to disclose the gag.) I don’t know what has happened to basketball, one of my favorite sports in the world, but it has become classless with a capital C or that same c might stand for crap.
For the sake of this article the c stands for the Champions League of European football or votebal or calcio or futebol but definitely not soccer. Born into existence in England, this is the world’s game. Everyone in the world plays it and everyone adores it (they can’t all be wrong can they?) Hold on…I’m not done bashing b-ball…Now as much as I love the game of basketball I’ve given up on guys with tattoos, their Cristal, dope cribs, phat whips, gangsta rap and the one on one action. Long gone are the days of 80’s basketball where even as I grew up being a Laker fan, I loved the Celtics and the Pistons because of the quality of what I saw and the personalities that melded into team (note to editor, Mark Price was cool, too.) This same concept of team and pride still exists with ferocity in Europe. The uniforms actually mean something to these guys. Yes they’ve got the sponsors and egos, that’s just sports in general, but we won’t be beginning the game with Mesi or Ronaldo or Giggs throwing chalk into the air at midfield (what a stupid spectacle that has become) and there won’t be a spinning circle of dudes barking like dogs, no faux picture taking and no one has ridiculous names from comic book magazines or off the cover of high times, or in Kobe’s case, the cover of some third rate porn dvd. These are men plain and simple unlike the mental midgets in the NBA (and how again can someone be called a world champion if no one else from around the world is allowed to participate?? Isn’t that what the Olympics are for?)…oh yeah…back to ‘soccer’…sorry.
This Wednesday I’ll be witnessing Manchester United (think Cristiano Ronaldo) and Barcelona (Lionel Messi) go at each other (not in the way some men and all women want to go at David Beckham) and not in the way guys in the MLS do in the states. You know…MLS...that horrible, unwatchable play with zero excitement and even less offence or defence (yes…I even spell like a euro now because I’m cool like dat.) I could have played in major league soccer when I was 12 and as good as I thought I might have been, the honest truth is that I couldn’t even carry out the ball to these players who are playing on Wednesday. Come to think of it, you almost don’t even want to tell your friends you play soccer in the states unless it’s a beer league at a university.
The Champions League format is, in simple terms, a playoff system between 32 European teams played during their off days outside of their fixed leagues. It would be like the Lakers playing in a California league most of the time while occasionally matching up against other states’ teams. The play is fast and furious and the two winners of their collective groups go head to head in a final game. Pretty simple. I’m not going to bore you with point systems but suffice it to say there are no 7 games series' to be played. Come out to play hard in the championship game and win by a goal or go home bummed. Just like in our beloved American Football league sans one guy named Chad Ochocinco (what a douche.)
The style of play will be aggressive, as is the nature of the English and Spanish styles. You will see epic matchups. You will see fantastic goals. You’ll see soccer the way you’ve never imagined seeing it (think actually exciting.) If you get a chance, check ESPN on Wednesday, 2:30pm EST, and you might actually learn something while having a good time. And if it exists in your town, try and find a good bar next to a hostel if you can….those Euro girls will dig that you’re into it kind of like U.S. girls when they go abroad with that whole Vegas mantra. These soccer chicks are ho's, too. I should know, I married one.
c. 2009 Demitri Mantalos