I have a theory as to one reason (of many) the England National Team tends to underperform in major tournaments: the players all play in the same league. Every England international plays in the Premier League. One might argue this breeds familiarity and is therefore good for the national team, but I think it leads to a lack of stylistic variety in the team and makes the payer pool stagnant. It's basically like inbreeding, is what I'm saying.
There’s still another round of matches to play in Serie A. Sure, Juventus have won the title. Sure, they printed some pretty cringe-worthy ‘LE6END’ merchandise and plastered it everywhere. Sure, Napoli and Roma seem set in their Champions League spots. Sure, every position in the league is seemingly sorted, bar Crotone and Empoli bickering about who gets to be the third worst team. Sure, the league is pretty much done and dusted. But we still have one round of fixtures left.
It hasn’t exactly been rosy times for Valencia CF and their fans of late. Since qualifying for the Champions League in 2015, the club has completely gone downhill. In the last two seasons, they’ve finished mid-table in La Liga, flirted dangerously with relegation, sold their best players and have had a total of five managers: Nuno, Gary Neville, Pako Ayestaran, Cesare Prandelli and Voro. However, things may finally be changing at Valencia after three important announcements were recently made by the club.
You could say it’s been an abnormal season for Cristiano Ronaldo. We’ve all gotten used to the Portuguese star playing almost every single competitive match and reaching outrageous totals of 50 or 60 goals a campaign.
This season, however, Ronaldo has scored 37 goals across all competitions, and he’s appeared in 43 of Real Madrid’s 57 official games — a total of only 75%. This is a significant change from last season when he scored a total of 51 goals and played 48 of Real’s 52 matches — a total of 92%.
Each narrative in the English Premier League has a nauseatingly long lifespan until it utterly annihilates itself — it’s annually cyclical, like the depiction of a serpent eating its own tail. We belabor the same statistics, the same trends and the same memes until we’ve had our fill, proceeding to damn them out of existence like a child pop star whose career of cultural martyrdom has run its course.
As I followed the fortunes of both Arsenal and the New York Knicks this season, I realized I had seen this movie before. The two organizations struggled through campaigns that mirrored each other. Fans of each team have experienced similar trauma over the past decade and the similarities became uncanny this year.
What a major weekend from the major soccer league — we were treated to it all. Andrea Pirlo, whose salary of $5.9 million is 35% of NYCFC’s total payroll, was benched because Patrick Vieira cited the need to have a midfielder with an animated body, New England threw away a three-goal lead against Seattle in 15 minutes and the Philadelphia Union are already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
For the last five years, every battle between Lazio and Roma has had the same repeated sub-plot: could this be the last Derby della Capitale for Francesco Totti? Eventually, this will be true. Eventually, there will be a time when Rome’s favourite son will no longer be able to enter the fray. Already, he has been relegated to a bit part player in the derby. But, as ever with Totti, he has managed to make starting from the subs’ bench a vital part of the action.
For those who religiously follow and catalogue all of the endless nonsense I churn out (you’re terrifying), you’ll remember that back in February (Jesus, what have I done these last two months) I got really into the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship. It was really cold and I was really sad so I turned to the carnival of sand, merriment and bangers that is beach soccer for respite. Plus it was all streamed on Facebook for free.