Athletic Bilbao: Pure talent, Pure Basque

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To play for athletic club Bilbao, you have to be more than just a sensational footballer. Located in the Basque Country in northern Spain, the rule has been the same since the club’s inception; if you are not Basque, you do not play here. The fascinating thing, though, is the that “Basque” is not necessarily a purely racial distinction, as the club welcomes locally born players who speak the unique Basque language fluently, regardless of their ethnic heritage. Fellow Basque La Liga neighbors Real Sociedad historically shared the same rule, until it was dropped in 1989 to allow for the competitive advantage of sought-after foreign signings.

‘Cyan Player Cards,’ the Best FIFA FUT Card You Will Never Have (Ever)

If you ever go head to head with a squad in Ultimate Team which features a teal player card (or cyan, as EA Sports would rather you call them) you should savor the moment, as you are truly in the presence of greatness. For each iteration of FIFA that is released, EA Spots creates a small handful of unique FUT cards for those professional footballers who also fancy themselves as top notch gamers. They all have overall ratings of 95, and unless sold on the black market at some point, these cards are the actual property of the players they represent. So, if you play against a gamer who’s fielding a cyan Obafemi Martins, you’re most likely literally playing against Obafemi himself. Oh, the beautiful game.

In addition to Obafemi, FIFA 16 is confirmed to have Cyan cards for Antoine Griezmann and Luke Shaw, as well as seven other footballers from various leagues around the world.

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UCL Second Leg: Summary and Conclusion

Friends, family, foes; we have reached the conclusion of the second leg of the UEFA Champions’ League Semifinals, and the verdict is in. The two sides to dig their studs into the grass of the Olimpiastadion in Berlin on June 5th are La Liga’s FC Barcelona, and Serie A’s Juventus.

While Cristiano Ronaldo will be inevitably gazing listlessly from the window of Real’s bus on the way home from the Bernabeu, former Real second stringer and professional nobody Álvaro Morata will be cleaning the blood off of the dagger that he plunged into the heart of his former club on Wednesday. Originally a product of Real Madrid’s slowly evaporating youth system, in his time with the club’s first team he felt largely unwanted and underappreciated, stating upon his departure that he had “essentially no relationship whatsoever” with Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti. Well, there could be no sweeter revenge than giving his former club the gift of an early departure from the UCL, which he did with a slicing half volley from eleven yards after receiving a flick from the head of French teammate Paul Pogba, resulting from a poorly defended corner kick in the first half. Although tied in the match, the 1 – 1 draw was enough to put Juve through on aggregate.

It was a fiercely fought battle the whole way, and apart from Gareth Bale not being able to hit the broad side of a barn with a 2 x 4 (or do anything in any productive manner whatsoever) Real Madrid looked over and over so close to snatching the goal they needed in the concluding stages of the second half. Juventus brought on extra defender Andrea Barzaghli and parked the proverbial bus in the backfield, and it proved to be enough to stymie the Spanish side’s attackers.

Juventus Meet FC Barcelona on June 6th for the UCL Final. According to ESPN’s “Soccer Power Index,” FCB maintain a 75% chance of victory. This will, of course, be of no concern to Max Alleghri’s boys, as they aim to bring Juventus’ first Champions’ League title back to Turin since 1996. What a match it is sure to be.

Players Behaving Badly: Daniel Carvajal Edition

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In a match where tensions ran high from the outset, and Real Madrid saw goalkeeper Jan Oblak doing his best impression of this cat:

one could rightly expect some considerable frustration and apprehension from the Madridistas. Especially from a Real Madrid team that hadn’t lost to Atléti since 1999 (when they lost 3-1 to the relegation bound Atlético Madrid). A team that hadn’t lost to Los Colchaneros in fifteen years suddenly experienced shock and horror on August 22nd 2014 in the Spanish super cup. Fifteen, yes, fifteen years of suffering on the other side of Madrid until that famous win in 2014, the ball falling to the feet of Mario “The Towering Menace” Mandžukić at the Santiago Bernabéu.

(Surprising to see him not score with his head, as some have called him “the greatest header of the ball ever to play the game”)

That was then and this is now. We see a shift, at least in the city of Madrid, where Los Blancos are now decidedly wary of their bitter crosstown foes.

This season sees the Colchaneros undefeated in seven matches, beating the Madridistas four out of those seven. The feverish feeling in the ground, and the frantic and brilliant way that Real came out of the gate was sure to see them through, but luck was not a lady this night, as it were. The second half started more brightly for Atléti and Mandžukić received much more service than in the first, but not always in the most pleasant manner. Enter Daniel Carvajal.

In the inaugural PBBT I want to highlight this play from Daniel “The Tiger-Rat of Leganès” Carvajal:

First I would like to highlight the shall we say “pussy-ass” manner in which Carvajal turned and assailed the God King Mario, secondly I would like to appreciate the way that the God King rightly fell in a heap, and thirdly I would like to give Dani the due respect he deserves for showing his palms to the sky in appeasement to the god king, the incredulous look on his face furthering the age-old traditional Spanish spiritual practice of penance to the ethereal and ultimately awesome Mario Mandžukić.
 
In all seriousness I appreciate and hate this move at the same time, it’s fucking with my mind. Did Daniel Carvajal bite him? Who’s to say? Did Carvajal purposefully use the nebulous nature of the human nervous system to draw attention away from the bite and toward where he was punched in the chest? Is that why Mandžukić levied no complaint about such an en vogue tactical footballing maneuver as a bite? Again only the Tiger-Rat can know.

All said, we can be sure of one thing, Mandžukić got fucked up in this game, the bloody face, getting punched and bitten and shit, which is kinda tight. But damn. Carvajal harried and harassed him all game, which was both admirable and piteous in its fervent and objectionable zeal. I guess that’s what a good defender does, but it seems to be in bad taste to bite and punch a fellow player. That said, cheers to a fascinating 0-0 draw. (and no disrespect to Carvajal, he’s fkn good af in fifa, which is all that really matters)

A Postmodern Ethnographic Deconstruction of Praenominal Customs

I am going to give you a short list of first names, and with it please try to draw in your mind some thread of cohesion between them. It can be abstract or concrete, the only thing necessary is try to connect these names: Gregory, Georginio, Robin. Anything? The list doesn’t offer much of a chance. Let’s continue, and expand it slightly. Tim, Nigel, Ibrahim. Still nothing? Jasper, Memphis, Luciano. You may at this point be questioning what exactly any of these names have to do with eachother, or more broadly what the fuck this has to do with football. I’ll conclude the list with what will surely act as the spoiler to these exploratory machinations; Arjen. Aha, we know that if we are discussing sport, there can be only one Arjen we are considering. The Dutch Bayern Munich virtuostic winger, Arjen Robben. And here we shall now disclose the clandestine unity of this list: these are all first names of players on the Dutch National Team. I know that I can personally say, and I would be shocked if you weren’t to agree, that I have never heard a more eclectic or diverse collaboration of names, in any country or circumstance. If you were to display a similar list of names from other national selections of the world (which I will not do for the sake of space and time) there would not be one that seems to lack any sense of integration altogether, as we see in this case. It is widely considered that Dutch is a “strange” language, difficult to discern and somewhat unmarked of obvious cues to a stranger’s ear. However, what we see in these names is for the most part not a sense of mystery or foreignness at all. Most of these names are easily recognizable to Americans, and generally speaking with assumed association of racial or national context. For instance, an American of some semblance of worldly knowledge might hear “Georginio” as distinctly Brazilian or Portuguese, and “Luciano” as clearly Italian. There are many names among them that could be from any English speaking country (Tim, Gregory, Robin, Nigel, Wesley). In fact, “Arjen” is pretty much the only name there that sounds markedly Dutch, if one has any sense of the Dutch language to begin with. What we see here, then, is an absolutely magnificent diversity of given names, or praenomen, which defies all outside understanding or belief. The most marked period of immigration to the Netherlands was immediately proceeding the Second World War, but was nothing in scale compared to the Turkish emigration to Germany of the same period. The influx of outsiders would obviously bring foreign naming customs, but if we review this above list again nearly all of the mentioned players have very Dutch surnames, which could not have arrived from the outside world in that period.  Even in contemporary Holland, foreigners account for less than 10% of the total population. Mr. Georginio himself has the surname Wijnaldum, and it doesn’t get much more Dutch than that. Born and bred in Rotterdam by Dutch parents, there is nothing foreign about the outstanding midfielder except maybe his incredible skill set, to this planet. So next time you encounter someone with an indiscernible name, you can say with confidence that they are probably Dutch.

Manuel Neuer Holds Ethereal R1 button, Passes to Teammate

For this week’s sexually arousing backheel, we have the perennial Übermensch candidate Manuel Neuer (or Man, to which his teammates cleverly shorten his devastatingly cumbersome first name) being an absolute fucking beast. Was his showstopping prowess necessary in the slightest? No. Was it an incredibly dangerous angle which would most likely result in a goal should the ball me mishandled? Yep. Does Manuel Neuer give a fuck about any of that shit? I think we all know the answer there. In the Post-Axis Europe that contemporary Germany inhabits, Manuel Neuer is the closest thing we have to a breathing personification of the imposition of Germanic hegemony. The motherfucker is just about as dominant as a goalkeeper is allowed to be in the game of football. And much in the same spirit that the German government imposes measures of austerity upon the central economy of Greece, Bayern München imposes the fucking infallable will of Manuel Neuer upon whomsoever dares kick inanimate objects toward his nylon enclosed sanctuary. Apologies for the extremely obnoxious music in the vid, but the content atones.

USMNT Don’t Kill My Vibe: Sexually Arousing Backheel of the Week

Well, it’s Tuesday which can only mean one thing… it’s time for the sexually arousing backheel of the week! Last week’s uncomfortable degree of intimacy was brought to you by the bottom of Benzema’s right boot; this week its Denmark’s feisty winger Lasse Vibe. Although I have no fucking idea how Vibe is pronounced in Danish, he undeniably sent vibes of arousal shooting throughout spectators’ happy places worldwide with this beauty. The tap in was finished by Bendtner (or, as he’s known to himself, “God”) lacking any style or flare, much like his style of play in general. But, alas, he netted a hat trick and offered a “no thank you” to the post-imperialist gemeinschaft of the good ol’ US of A. We may be able to defeat any opponent in armed warfare (even concepts like “drugs” and “terror”), but when it comes to world football we couldn’t even stick it to an entire nation of hyper-literate blonde people. Maybe next time, boys. Video below.