Archive for the ‘Rivalries’ Category

It Pays To Get Up Early

Giggs: The Man of the Derby

Giggs: THE Man at the Derby

With the rich storylines, coaches banter and drama coming into the United – City match, it would have been easy for the actual Derby to be a disappointment. Thankfully, that was not the case as this morning’s Derby was one for the ages.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch at least the second half, figure out a way. And when you do watch, grab a few folks that aren’t really interested in soccer and you may just make fans out of them. I’m not just saying that because the second half featured five goals, each arguably more dramatic than the last. Rather, it was nearly the total package in terms of a great soccer watching experience.

In the second half alone…

You had one team controlling the run of play, but an opponent that wouldn’t give up and found a way to answer ALMOST every blow.

man derby

You had the crowd at Old Trafford in it every step of the way.

You had stellar scoring chances stymied by equally stellar goalkeeping. (Hey Matthew, the announcers had the perfect summation of Berbatov after being denied by Shay Givens on two point-blank headers…”he did everything except score a goal.”)

You had Scotsman Darren Fletcher bang home two with his dome for United and Welshman Craig Bellamy score two for City in breathtaking fashion.

You had a 35-year old Ryan Giggs triggering the attack and, to use an NBA term, dropping dimes on his way to accumulating 4 assists.

You had two managers underscoring the drama by coaching from the technical area and leaving them ten feet apart as they visibly reacted to every high and low

And, finally, you had (free transfer) Michael Owen slotting home an improbable winner in the 96th minute.

I am sure there are all other sorts off things I missed, but I simply watched and enjoyed (almost as much as I enjoyed the Jets victory over the Patriots later in the afternoon).

As the game entered stoppage time, a controversial one at that, the announcer summed up the classic best (and I am paraphrasing here):

The eternal shortcoming of football is that it lasts but ninety minutes.

Braveheart has zero, nothing on Celtic FC

Celtic FC fans: Just warming up

Celtic FC fans: Just warming up

This ones for the newbies.

Shaun commented earlier this week on Arsenal, their style of play, and the Invincibles–the magical 2003-2004 season where the Gunners went a staggering (and record) 49 matches without a loss.

Arsenal will take on Celtic Tuesday in the inaugural match of the UEFA Champions League opening rounds. Celtic, for their part, have as glorified, or more, a history.

Celtic, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, coupled with their home city rivals the Rangers, perhaps present one of, if not, the most storied (and bloody) rivalries in all of soccer and probably all of global sport. Kind of makes the Red Sox-Yankees look like a backyard wiffleball game.

If Bill Simmons (ESPN.com’s “Sports Guy”) commentary on the US – Mexico powder keg got your blood percolating, I implore you to purchase (yes purchase it, you will not be disappointed) the book, “How Soccer Explains the World” and take a read of Chapter 2. It will, without question, knock your socks off.

For a quick excerpt, courtesy of Google, see here.

*Live commentary from Shaun on the Arsenal-Celtic clash after the page break

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