So. There's a lot to talk about today. Next season's fixture list came out and the Spain v Iraq match didn't go quite the way I - and many people - thought it would.
Before I get to that I have to rant for a moment. I hate when ESPN allows American commentators to ruin matches. I have to champion ESPN for taking football seriously. They show the World Cups, Euros, and Condfederations Cup, but they also show weekly Champions League matches and even MLS games. They make a big deal about the champions league. They're already advertising for the 2010 World Cup. They partner with ABC to allow more coverage of large tournaments. I pray to intern at ESPN; it would be my dream come true. What they're doing for the sport in the US is wonderful, just by giving it a shot - but sometimes I can't listen to some of these commentators. I'd rather pay or watch matches online - suffering poor quality and delays - just to get the British commentators. ESPN sometimes gets it right - I love Andy Gray. I can listen to Adrian Healey quite well. Even Tommy Smyth.
What I heard today just annoyed me. It wasn't quite as irritating as EPSN repeatedly calling Manchester United "Man U" the day of the final in Roma- but it was still there. They repeatedly said how Giuseppe Rossi was a midfielder. He's a second striker. A deep lying forward. He's not a midfielder. At one point they said Fernando Torres played for United. He plays for Liverpool. They mispronounced and Americanized David Villa's name every chance they got. At one point I could have swore that they confused Cristiano Ronaldo ( the famous Portuguese winger ) with Ronaldo ( the famous Brazilian ). Iraq did not play Paraguay in the 2004 Olympics, they played Italy and lost. They did not know the Casillas is the Spanish captain. The whole American style with football matches sometimes confuses me. I know they're trying to make it more a football game or baseball - accessible to Americans who don't know the sport and are learning. By comparing to other sports they are helping new fans understand the importance of certain aspects of play. While I want a half hour to one post game analysis - I understand that in America that wouldn't get ratings. It does continue to get better ( the Euro commentary was better than in the 2006 World Cup ). I understand that they cannot just cater to the die hard fans and they're trying to get new fans but in many ways it can detract from a good match. But since I wish that America would take the sport seriously and be interested - I'll keep listening and be grateful that I'm able to turn on my TV and see a match.
Anyway. Iraq was stunning today. Spain underperformed. I called a 1-0 Spain victory ( come on, they haven't lost since 2006 ), but Iraq really surprised me and I'm sad that they've already been eliminated for the World Cup. Their defense really did well and everyone knew exactly what their job was. Spain had 21 shots but only managed to get one in. If Iraq had started their star player or had more of an attack upfront there might have been more of a chance for a 1-1 ( they had a couple of shots but couldn't capitalize at all ) but the fact that they didn't allow Spain multiple goals really helps them in the group, especially since New Zealand was destroyed by La Roja. If their next match goes well, they could advance on goal differential with South Africa.
For most of the match I thought David Villa looked out of place. I thought he seemed as useful as Ronnie during the Champions League final - not very. He had five chances that he should have capitalized on, but he got his header which matters most in the end. Torres didn't have much to do, but after his last match no one is accusing him of being disappointing ( as they did during Euro ). I always enjoy watching the Spanish nationals ( especially Torres on a good day and Sergio Ramos - I'd love seeing him and Rooney battle it out again soon ) but we all expected them to win the group so I'm waiting for their bigger matches to come. They should cruise through their next match, resting their bigger players and letting the younger ones get some experience and a cap for the national squad.
Moving on from this summer - THE 2009/2010 PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURE LIST IS OUT!
It has some intense copyright rules, so here is the link to the site: Barclays 2009-2010 Fixtures
I'm pretty excited about our big matches. We have a good opener and closing match. We play Arsenal pretty early, but they have to play United, Chelsea, and Liverpool within a ten day frame - I'm not envious of them.
There's a lot to look forward to now!
Also, it is officially one month and one week until I travel to Baltimore to see Chelsea v AC Milan!
Remember to catch this afternoon's match ( I might update this post later to include it ), US v Brazil tomorrow on ESPN at 9:30AM, and Italy v Egypt tomorrow at 2:25PM.