Euro 2012: The Iberian Civil War

Oh hey there, you sexy thangs.

There is something special about the semifinals of major sporting tournaments. Whether it’s the Final Four™ in ‘Merican college basketball, or the unique FA Cup semifinals that once were contested at a neutral venue roughly equidistant from the clubs in question, or the Frozen Four or any conference championship game or series at the professional levels of American sports, the semifinals are where shit starts to get real for the players and fans alike.

Maybe it’s because in many respects, the semifinals are as difficult or more so than the final. At the end of the day, the tournament brackets are arbitrary. You’re just as likely to face the strongest opponent in the semifinal as in the final, because math. Once the penultimate battle is joined, if your side takes the lead you can’t help but begin to think that the fairy tale deity of your choice, in His wisdom, has bestowed grace on you; this year is your year. All of the hard work, emotional rollercoasters, and sacrifice, not only in this season but really since you were just a little nipper will be worth it when your heroes step into the arena to vie for the right to occupy the pinnacle of your sport.

When your snotty classmates made fun of you for plastering your bedroom walls with posters and collecting trading cards and wearing the same replica jersey 300 days in a row, that hurt. But now you can take pleasure knowing that your boy/girlhood team is going to ascend the heights of glory, and it will mean that much more to you than it will to them, wherever they are now (well above you in the social and economic hierarchy, probably).
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Some Things We Learned from Real Madrid (3) 2-1 (3) Bayern Munich

LOL #RonaldoFAIL

When your correspondent awoke this morning to regale you with tales of teh soccerz, he at first could not remember much of the details of the UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg showdown between The Master Race Bayern Munich and General Franco Real Madrid. Due to meetings and the fact that I don’t currently have cable, I couldn’t watch the match live and therefore avoided the twitterbox, facebooks, and soccernets all afternoon to stay blissfully unaware of the scoreline, the better to enjoy the digital video recording at Magic Sam’s house later, with hors d’oeuvres and freedom on the side.

But not that generic ‘Merican freedom, the one that has strong notes of tacky nationalism and an aftertaste of gunpowder. No, this was the fancy imported Euro variety, with pronounced hints of universal healthcare coverage, generous vacation time, and sensible attitudes towards vice. [Read more…]

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