5 Irrefutable Facts We Now Know After However Many Days Of Preseason It’s Been
We all know that preseason results mean less than a fortune cookie, but we also know that in the slumbering offseason, clicks must still be generated. So “REAL MADRID HUMILIATED BY ATLETICO IN LOSS THAT MEANS MORE THAN ZIDANE’S BACK-TO-BACK-TO-BACK UCL TITLES” and “5-TIME EMIRATES CUP CHAMPIONS ARSENAL F’D BY LYON AT THE EMIRATES” and “THE GRASS IN AMERICA IS KILLING PEOPLE.”
This, in essence, is why we know more about the summer activity of a 30-year-old Welshman who scored eight league goals last season than we do our own siblings. We’ve read Zidane’s “we hope he leaves soon” quote more than we’ve read Shakespeare; we’ve mused over the faults of Antoine Griezmann’s transfer to Barcelona more than the negligences of our own souls.
The hackneyed cliché is the “silly season,” but it’s more like a “season in hell.”
Once, if my memory serves me well, my life was a banquet
Where every Christian Pulisic touch disrupted the central pairing,
Where every Frenkie de Jong-influenced move flowed.
There’s beauty in the offseason, there’s a clean slate that grants human hope . . . before Manchester City downs and strangles every joy.
But just like a USWNT beatdown of Thailand, you’ve got to make the most of what’s given to you during the preseason (come to think of it, there’s no more apt metaphor for this time than Megan Rapinoe putting the U.S. up 9-0 and sliding across the Stade Reims pitch whilst generating fart noises with her knee pit).
So here are five inarguable truths we hold to be self-evident based off these far-flung European club tours.
#1. João Félix Is Everything Kaká Always Prayed For
Atlético Madrid’s 7-3 victory over Real at MetLife Stadium will probably go down as the most memorable win in the history of the International Champions Cup. I say “probably” because I’m struggling to remember any other games in the competition’s history at this point in time.
Diego Costa scored four and got himself sent off in the most Diego Costa display ever, but the real focus was on 19-year-old João Félix. They call him the “next Cristiano Ronaldo” because he’s Portuguese and good at football, but he plays nothing like a 19-year-old Ronaldo, so it’s not the best comparison (but again, good for clicks). He’s more like Kaká.
Félix had a goal and two assists in the demolition and he also looked saintly in possession throughout. I love Antoine Griezmann more than the next man, but I’m pretty sure Atlético got this one right in the long run.
#2. Christian Pulisic Could Be The 2004-05 Arjen Robben
The question "Can Christian Pulisic replace Eden Hazard?" is, for now, entirely inappropriate. Let’s not tear into him immediately for not preemptively being named a four-time Premier League Team of the Year guy. Let’s instead compare him with Arjen Robben, who arrived at Chelsea as a speedy 20-year-old winger needing a bit of refinement, but with plenty of joy to be found in his direct style. Sounds a lot like Pulisic to me.
Robben was crucial in Chelsea’s 2004-05 Premier League triumph despite only appearing in 18 games. He scored seven goals, provided nine assists and dazzled every time he got on the pitch.
Pulisic will almost certainly miss a few games given his recent injury history, but can the Hershey native provide decisive moments in the final third when he's fit? Based on what we’ve seen so far, yes.
— Trenzy, M.D. (@therealtrenzy) July 23, 2019
#3. Neither Liverpool Nor Real Madrid Will Win The UCL
You’d have to go back to 19dippitydo to find the last time the Champions League wasn’t won by either Real Madrid or Liverpool, but based on the Reds recent performances against continental sides (defeat to Dortmund, Sevilla and Napoli; draw with Sporting) coupled with those of Los Blancos (defeats to Bayern and Atlético; shootout defeat to Emirates Cup runners-up Arsenal), you can only surmise that Big Ears is being won by Kylian Mbappé this season.
If you’re laughing because you're aware of some golden thread between Ligue 1 and farmers, let me remind you that Mbappé is only getting better.
Mbappe scored two goals in a friendly with Dynamo .. pic.twitter.com/eHALdP4PVq— ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴇᴛᴛɪᴘsᴛᴇʀ™ (@itytipster) July 17, 2019
If life were like a video game RPG and your every action stopped time and allowed you to select the perfect response or plan of action, then you’d just be Kylian Mbappé on the football pitch.
It's either PSG or Papu's Atalanta.
#4. Harry Kane’s Gonna Bring The Vince Lombardi Trophy To Minnesota
We live in an age of ridiculous headline writing (sorry), but my favorite example was that ESPN article back in March that got to discuss a wide range of topics with Harry Kane and then led with “Tottenham’s Harry Kane, the world’s best striker, has his sights set on a career in the NFL,” as though nothing were more important to him than kicking the ol’ pigskin and looking like Gary Anderson.
To me, it was just an off-hand, tongue-in-cheek comment from Kane that deserved little, if any, part of the final copy.
Or so I thought.
Then Kane laced one from the sort of distance that’ll defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Conference Championship, and I gotta hand it to ESPN: this boy wants to lift the Vikings’ kicker curse. Skol.
HARRY KANE SCORES THE WINNER FROM THE HALFWAY LINE! pic.twitter.com/zDLgGyoLGN— ESPN (@espn) July 21, 2019
#5. I Wish Ajax Would’ve Stayed Together
Between Matthijs de Ligt scoring an own goal and Frenkie de Jong completing 100 percent of his passes on his Barcelona debut, there was that twang in my heart that said Ajax’s run to the 2018-19 Champions League semifinals — after defeating perennial antagonists Real Madrid and Juventus — was the best thing we’ll get over the next decade (as the Champions League sucks down its final breath and the European Super League forms).
It makes you wonder why De Ligt didn’t start belting this song out a cappella in the locker room at Johan Cruyff Arena following that 40-minute collapse against Tottenham.