Scenes From an Italian Sporting Event

May 26, 2009

Picasso Soccer
“If one is lucky enough to have a job these days — and that is a big ‘if’ in the newspaper business — one should never hesitate when the boss says drop everything and get to Rome for the Champions League final and make sure you go jogging around the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus and don’t forget to expense the pasta with seafood, especially if the shrimp are the size of handguns.” (NYT)

Barcelona have edge over Manchester United in that they will never be sold (The Sport Blog)
“Manchester United versus Barcelona is a dream final for the romantic, two great clubs sharing traditions of skill and panache – yet the broader values they embody seem now to spring from opposing visions of the sport. On one side of Stadio Olimpico tomorrow will be Barça, ‘mes que un club’ – more than a club – as the Catalan institution proclaims itself, bearing Unicef on the shirts, owned by 163,000 members.”

The Camp fire that will never go out at Barcelona (Times Online)
“If Barcelona win tomorrow evening, the Plaça Sant Jaume will be the magnet for the city’s delirium and that is unlikely to have changed by the time the team return for the official party the following day. On one side of the square is the neo-classical City Hall building, and celebrating within those walls will be one of politics’ more genuine football romantics.”

The Big Interview: Lionel Messi on imposing Barca’s style on Manchester United and stopping Crisitano Ronaldo (SoccerLens)
“Like a butterfly floating around the pitch, Lionel Messi has an uncanny ability for making things look easy. With the ball at his feet and a pair of defenders flanking him on both sides, what seemed like a lost cause only seconds before turns into an opportunity to make the opposition pay.”

What I Saw in the Vatican Museum (Run of Play)
“The man with the blanked-out eyes followed me all through the Vatican. I first noticed him in the sculpture garden—standing stone-still in front of the Laocoön—and he kept popping up in odd nooks and corners all the way to the Sistine Chapel. It was daylight this time; there was no mistaking him.”

Just Two Days To Go Now (FCB News)
“On Wednesday night in Rome Football Club Barcelona and Manchester United will go head-to-head to see who is the best team in Europe. For the first time that I can remember for a final practically every bookmaker you care to look at has the odds for the two teams exactly the same.”

10 Reasons to Be Excited About Barcelona vs Man Utd (The Offside)
“I’m very very very excited about tomorrow’s Barcelona vs Man Utd UEFA Champions League Final. And rightly so. There, I said it. I know bloggers are often meant to have one eyebrow raised in snarkiness when faced with a big (and very corporate) event. But that feels impossible in this case.”

Head over heart for Champs final (SI – Greg Lalas)
“It’s safe to say Wednesday’s Champions League final is the most anticipated title match since UEFA created the platinum edition of Europe’s top tournament. From Rome to Rochester to Rangoon, everyone with even a modicum of soccer in his blood is planning on watching the game live, regardless if that requires skipping an important sales call at work or losing a few hours of sleep.”

Vidic ready to win at all costs (BBC)
“Nemanja Vidic is sure Manchester United will beat Barcelona in the Champions League final – and does not care about the style in which they do it. Wednesday’s match in Rome pits holders United against the team regarded as the most attractive in Europe this season.”

Anderson provides midfield balance (BBC – Tim Vickery)
“At a conference in Rio in December 2007, a panel of big name local coaches were discussing the essence of Brazilian football. One point was made a few times, that Manchester United were playing their expensive new signing Anderson in central midfield, a role that no coach in his native land would have considered for a nanosecond.”

The men who make Barca beautiful (BBC)
“It is perhaps not surprising that Barcelona’s Yaya Toure believes he plays with the two best footballers on earth. After all, the likes of Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry have scored an incredible 97 goals between them this season.”

Barcelona v Man Utd (BBC)
“Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand says he is “fine” to play against Barcelona in Wednesday’s Champions League final. The 30-year-old has been out for three weeks with a calf injury and missed the 1-0 win at Hull on Sunday.”

The Dream Final? (ESPN)
“Barcelona versus Manchester United – for many it’s the dream Champions League final: Two of the best supported teams in the world contesting the most prestigious club competition, and all in the Eternal City.”

The finals reckoning (ESPN)
“Both were denied triumphs in the old European Cup’s formative years. United were victorious in 1968 yet had to wait 31 years to triumph again. Barcelona suffered two horrendous disappointments before finally being able to claim the crown in 1992.”

Barcelona v. Manchester United (SoccerLens)
“It’s the big one! Barcelona and Manchester United will clash for the most prestigious trophy in Europe, the UEFA Champions League Cup! Soccerlens will be bringing you the action live! Log on to the site 15 minutes before kickoff for the live-blog! In the meantime, feel free to make predictions or leave comments below!”