Notes from a spaced-out soccer fan, January edition

By Jonathan Gold

SPAIN

It doesn’t speak particularly highly of Emanuel Adebayor’s progress as a player since joining City a couple seasons ago that they could only even hope to get 15 million pounds out of Real Madrid, a club not known for its fiduciary restraint. And they probably won’t even get that, of course, given that the extent of The Special One’s ambitions in his boardroom battle with Jorge Valdano are just to get an extra striker for the rest of the season.

Why on earth would Madrid want to exercise that option, anyway? Who wants a fifteen-million-pound overgrown baby and noted malcontent in a locker room that already includes Cristiano Ronaldo?

Elsewhere, Valencia won a truly wacky contest against Malaga 4-3, and Real Madrid and Barca are close to a completely unexpected meeting in the finals of the Copa del Rey after both teams won the first legs of their semi-final matches.

ITALY

It got sloppy and ill-tempered in Italy this weekend, and I’m not just talking about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hair. In fairness to AC Milan’s karate master, he was in sparkling form against Cesena, prompting an own goal thanks to a brilliant pass from Cassano and then scoring a well-placed shot from a tight angle to give the Rossoneri the win.

http://www.footytube.com/v/NzEyMDE=

Lazio continued to self-destruct, losing 3-1 to Bologna and getting involved in an undignified brawl with their opponents afterwards. I’m sure Lazio fans have never seen anything like that before.

GERMANY

All-conquering Borussia Dortmund didn’t, as it happened, getting held 1-1 by Stuttgart. I have to admit, I didn’t see this one in its entirety, so I can’t with any accuracy tell you whether this is a blip or the beginning of a slide of some kind, but my oh-so-bold prediction that Dortmund will win the Bundesliga in a walk still doesn’t look too dumb.

Bayern, for their part, Kaiserslautered, um, Kaiserslautern, as Arjen Robben’s return inspired the Bavarians to a 5-1 rout.

St. Pauli were once again unlucky to draw 2-2 with Hoffenheim, recovering from a goal down to get to 2-1 only to succumb to a goal on a freak deflection. Drag. However, the club does have a feature on its website where you can make a picture of yourself into a skull, so that’s got to be worth something.

INGERLAND

I’m so stoked for Man United after coming back from 2-0 down against Blackpool. Really. Can’t you tell. I’m thrilled.

http://www.footytube.com/v/NzEzNTE=

Plucky Liverpool pulled out their second in a row in a dazzling 1-0 at Fulham. Oh, and they didn’t score. LOLverpool.

http://www.footytube.com/v/NzE0MjA=

It’ll be Arsenal against Birmingham in the League Cup final, first opportunity for awhile, hungry for trophies, blah blah blah.

Frankly, Arsenal are bad for my nerves. While I think that, despite the team’s well-documented frailties in defense and mentality, they still probably have to be considered strong favorites against a terribly limited Birmingham side which is very capable of conceding goals. I still can’t see the Gunners winning any trophies of particular relevance this year. OK, winning the League Cup would be SOMETHING, and a lot of people say it’ll be incredibly important to simply get one on the board, but it’s the League Cup – for god’s sake, Spurs have won that in recent years. How much can it be worth, really?

The League Cup is one notch above winning the Community Shield, three or four below the FA Cup, and about 10 or 20 below winning the league. If it proves to be a stepping stone to bigger and better things, great, otherwise, I still need a Xanax or something for my nerves.

Jonathan Gold is a guest columnist for The Soccer Guys.

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