65 Days Until the World Cup

6 04 2010

The latest column is available today. Dude, next week we’ll be in the 50’s … wow.

So my brother will be taking me to a sports bar in the Haight to watch the Barcelona v. Read Madrid game. Very excited about it. Message me on Facebook (link in the blogroll) if you want to hang out and buy me an adult beverage. As always, the link to the column online is available here. Enjoy.

Rooney’s injury could be blessing in disguise

By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff
Remember not too long ago when I told you that it seemed like the British national team was cursed?

At the time I only partially kidding that they were, but considering what transpired with Wayne Rooney during Manchester United’s 2-1 loss in their Champions League game against Bayern Munich, I can’t help but think that I might have been right on.

Rooney suffered an ankle injury late in that game and the news out of England is that he’ll be out 2-4 weeks.

English fans this is a blessing in disguise. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson never hid the fact that he had no intention of resting Rooney in hopes of saving his legs for the World Cup in South Africa — his goal is to win European championships and could care less about England’s run in 2010.

Need proof? The Associated Press ran a recent story saying that Rooney is responding well to treatment and might be ready to play in the home leg of the Championship League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich.

If you read between the lines, it may well be that Rooney is being pressured to make an early return — in light of their defeat to B.M., Man U needs the win to move on in Champions League — to not do so would mean a disappointing exit for one of last year’s Champions League finalists.

But if you’re an English national team fan you are to ask yourself: why try to rush a return and risk further injuring yourself thus eliminating your chances of doing well in the World Cup? I mean, haven’t we seen that plenty of times before, a superstar trying to make a heroic return only to worsen the injury?

The European schedule is brutal and while an injury to a star is never a good thing, the fact is that a couple weeks of rest can only do Rooney some good. England is going to need every bit of their offensive leader if they are to make a run at the Cup and fresher legs are a good thing.

Another major team bitten by the injury bug last week was FIFA No.1 Spain. Midfielder and Arsenal captain Cesc Fàbregas suffered a broken fibula during his team’s 2-2 tie with Barcelona is the Champions League. Fàbregas wasn’t expected to start for Spain in South Africa with Xavier Hernandez and Andres Iniesta having the midfield on lockdown. He is expected to recover in time for Spain’s first game at the World Cup against Switzerland.

Trash-talk

The first stone has been cast in the upcoming clash between the United States and England 66 days from now at the World Cup … or has it?

In a story published by Goal.com U.S forward Jozy Altidore said that England “don’t scare us” and that “we’re really looking forward to that match. I think that we’re capable of beating anybody on our day and there’s no team in the world that can beat us easily. We’re up to the challenge and the English will realize that when we meet them.”

Obviously when the English fans caught wind of this Altidore and the rest of the United States team were blasted on message boards throughout the World Wide Web with comments like “Talk, talk … USA is going to get destroyed!” and “The USA is overrated, everyone exaggerating (Confederations) Cup 2009, an invitational tournament. You don’t even have any good players. I hope England crushes them.”

Ouch.

But shortly after, Altidore tweeted “love the article out that have me saying things I never said. Brilliant,” and “The beauty of England …you never have to speak to the press cause they’ll gladly do the interview without you … haha.”

So who can you believe in this? Well, the story has since been taken down by Goal.com (although excerpts of the [alleged] interview can found on FIFA.com) which adds validity to Altidore’s claim.

When I first read this, I must admit to being excited — bulletin board material is always fun to read about and the world’s best aren’t above talking a little smack against the U.S. Plus adding a little fuel to the fire isn’t a bad thing for the Stars and Stripes. I’ve always said they play better when they carry a bit of swagger or a chip on their shoulder.

But comments like the ones Altidore made (didn’t make) will be brushed off by those who follow soccer and by the British players — and they’ll be blown out of proportion by those who already have a dislike for those conceited Yanks.

El Clasico

If you have an ounce of soccer fever in your body chances are you’ll be glued to a television set this Saturday.

Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, arguably the two best club teams in the world, will face off in league play for the 160th time. It’s a rivalry game that dates back to 1929 with Real Madrid leading the way at 68-61-30. Barcelona has won the last three league meetings including a 6-2 drubbing in May 2009.

For those who can’t wait for the World Cup to come around (that’s me) this will be the perfect opportunity to see the best players in the world on the same pitch — consider it the All-Star game or the Pro Bowl.

There are a couple of storylines to watch in this one: Ronaldo, the international star and highest paid player in the world, has all but guaranteed a victory for Real Madrid. His prediction might not be too far fetched. Barcelona has a tough leg in the Championship League against Arsenal before the rivalry game — Real was knocked off early and does not have to worry about having to play back-to-back tough games. That said Lionel Messi and company might be too tough regardless.

Chances are a lot of next Tuesday’s column will be about this game so enjoy.

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