UEFA Champions League Final Preview…From A Man Who Knows Nothing About Soccer
Posted by Mike on May 22, 2007
As I have said before, this is the first year that I’ve kept track of international soccer. Which is to say, I know absolutely nothing coming into tomorrow’s UEFA Champions League Final (between Liverpool and AC Milan). Perhaps my lack of knowledge, however, can be an advantage when trying to predict the outcome. I have absolutely no preconceived notions about these teams, and I can thus decide a champion fairly and arbitrarily, using factors that have nothing to do with the players’ ability to play the game. If you want a soccer-based preview, check out the one at That’s On Point. Here is my UEFA Champions League Final Preview:
Best Diver: Xabi Alonso (Liverpool) vs. Alberto Gilardino (Milan).
Let’s look at tape #1 of Spaniard Xabi Alonso diving for Liverpool in a game against Arsenal.
Hmmm…He definitely put effort into it. He jumped over the defender to at least mock an attempt to avoid him. He even brushed his foot on the defender a little bit to make it look convincing. But the referee gave him a yellow card, which means either that this ref really hates flopping or Xabi is a terrible actor. Either way, Xabi did not satisfy his target audience.
Now let’s watch Gilardino in action.
Now that’s some acting! He knows that there’s no one even near him, but he falls like he’s been shot anyway. Even the Swedish commentators can see through their blizzards and porramatur to see that dive and laugh.
Advantage: AC Milan.
Easiest Player To Make Fun Of: Peter Crouch (Liverpool) vs. Ronaldo (Milan).
They might both look pretty normal if Ronaldo were to get liposuction and give his excess fat to Crouch. But that Brazilian blubber might transfer some rhythm into the 6’7″ bloke, and we would be robbed of gems like this:
Ronaldo is obviously the more high-profile player, and is thus subject to more scrutiny. But there is so much to poke at about Mr. Roboto: his dance moves, his lanky appearance (he’s the white Manute Bol), and his overall awkwardness on and off the pitch.
(Added note: Despite their ability to be mocked at unspeakable levels, both of these players have bagged some hot chicks. Just thought you should know. It is, however, beside the point.)
Best Goal Celebration: Peter Crouch vs. Robbie Fowler (Liverpool).
AC Milan can’t even contend in this category (by virtue of no Youtube evidence as far as I know. Crouch’s robot dance is funny, but nothing will ever top this celebration by Robbie. Nothing that could legally be viewed in public, anyway.
Unfortunate Accident to befall a player: Liverpool vs. AC Milan.
Despite how terrible this is, AC Milan wins this competition because Gilardino is still on their team, while Phil Babb is retired. You know what? I change my mind. I don’t care if he’s retired. The nutshot wins.
Best Stadium: Anfield vs. San Siro.
San Siro is one of the biggest and best stadiums in the world. Renovated for the 1990 World Cup, the Stadium has a capacity of 85,700, a roof, one of the world’s most insane fan bases, and is one of Italy’s only 2 UEFA 5-star rated stadium. Despite being only a UEFA 4-star stadium, Anfield has been the only home of Liverpool FC since the team was founded in 1892. In the Champions League semifinal against Chelsea, the environment in the stadium was absolutely electric. Anfield will be 125 years old when it’s replaced in 2009 by Stanley Park, a true shame. San Siro will live to fight another day. Anfield will not.
Advantage: Liverpool (sentimental value). It’s worth noting that, when full, I would not feel safe in either stadium.
Purveyors of Culture: City of Liverpool vs. City of Milan.
Okay, this one isn’t even close. Milan has become the financial and cultural center of Italy, and one of the most important cities in the world. The city determines 50% of a woman’s wardrobe, is home to extraordinary pre-Industrial Revolution architecture, was the birthplace of four popes, and has some of the best food in the world. Liverpool’s only two cultural exports are the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. This competition might actually be close if I didn’t think the Beatles were extremely overrated.
Advantage: AC Milan.
Owners: Tom Hicks and George Gillett (Liverpool) vs. Silvio Berlusconi (Italy).
The British may know him as the new Yankee owner of one of England’s most famous franchises. We Americans know him as a babbling idiot who gets tricked into signing frivolous contracts to bad players. So good luck at the top, Liverpool; it won’t last long.
Conversely, one could argue that the revitalization of AC Milan as a franchise is one of the big reasons Berlusconi was popular enough in Italy to become Prime Minister. Silvio has no equal: He is the most powerful political figure in Italy, the richest man in Italy, the owner of many Italian newspapers, in addition to owning one of the most important sports franchises in Europe. Imagine of George Steinbrenner owned the New York Times, Microsoft, and the Yankees, and became President of the United States. That’s Berlusconi in Italy.
Advantage: AC Milan in a blowout.
Mental State: Liverpool vs. AC Milan.
Liverpool has already beaten AC Milan, in 2005, to win the UEFA Champions League. After beating hated Chelsea to get to the Final, they have very little to lose. However, there is a lot of pressure on AC Milan. They’re looking to avenge their collapse in 2005, when they attained a 3-0 lead at halftime only to relinquish it in six minutes, and eventually lost to penalty kicks. The Italians had their foot on Liverpool’s throat, but gave then enough leeway to come back. They simply won;t make the same mistake.
Advantage: AC Milan.
At this point, the tally is tied at 4. So to determine who wins, I will need a category that is so subjective it would stray my opinion no matter what. I think the best choice is bloodlines, since there are no Americans on either club.
The Spanish Connection: Liverpool vs. AC Milan.
I have Spanish blood running through my veins, so I am completely in favor of any soccer team with Spaniards on their roster. Liverpool is coached by Rafa Benitez. Their starting lineup can include Luis Garcia, Pepe Reina, and Xabi Alonso. Between the players and coaches there are at least 10 Spaniards on Liverpool’s payroll. As for AC Milan, well…there isn’t a single notable Spaniard to have ever played for the Italian squad. And no, Ronaldo (who spent six years in La Liga) doesn’t count.
Final Tally: Liverpool 5, AC Milan 4.
So there you have it. A predicition for the outcome of the game that has absolutely nothing to do with soccer, deciding that Liverpool will emerge victorious as the Spanish will rule once again. I’ll be liveblogging the event on Wednesday, which should be a lot of fun. Enjoy the match!