Why Not Start Your Sunday with some Futbol?
As a typical American I’m sure you’re undoubtedly counting the hours until golden boy Tom Brady takes on golden-ish man Peyton Manning. You’re debating hot dogs vs brats, you’re already second guessing your beverage quantity, and you think there’s another playoff game on as well but you can’t remember who’s playing.
It won’t be the first televised football game you’ve ever seen, more like the four thousandth, so you don’t really need three hours of egg heads, has beens, and never really weres to “break down the big game” and “tell you all you need to know”. You have an least a B+ knowledge of football, not to toot your own horn or anything. So what are you going to do from noon to three?
Don’t kid yourself you’ll have your living room or man cave ship shape and ready to sail by 10am. There might be some College hoops on around one or so but it’ll likely be Kentucky vs Montana Arts & Crafts Junior College and it won’t hold your attention for more than a few minutes at a time if at all. Perhaps it’s time to give futbol, or soccer, a try.
This Sunday at eleven am Chelsea is playing Manchester United. You’ve probably heard of Manchester United, they’re the New York Yankees of soccer. You might even have heard of Chelsea, they’re a team from London owned by a Russian gangster, excuse me, Russian billionaire, and are probably best described as the soccer equivalent of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s easily one of, if not the most, marquee matchup of the English Premiere League season.
As an American you’re probably going to be worried that the game will just be a lot of nonsense midfield passing with everyone doing a whole lot of nothing. You’ve seen the classic Simpsons episode, “full back back to center back to full back passes it wing, holds it, holds it, hooooolds iiiiittttt!!!!”
Don’t worry, there might be a few minutes of that at the beginning but it won’t last long. If you’ve got a decent sound system crank it up a bit and listen to the fans singing creative and often highly offensive songs. You’ll have plenty of time to listen to fifty thousand people chant “D, fence, D, fence” over and over and over later in the day.
Over the past ten years or so these have been the best two teams in English soccer. It’s always a chippy affair. There’s almost always a basket of yellow cards, and more often than not a red card or a few incidences where a red card should’ve been shown. There will be crunching tackles, both fair and foul. There will be artistry in the passing game. There will be speed down the flanks and occasionally through the middle. And there will almost certainly be goals. It’s almost always one of those games that has everything.
Chelsea are currently third in the league, Manchester United seventh. With no playoffs in soccer the team at the top of the table at the end is the champion. Three points for a win and one point for a draw start to mean a lot more as the season passes the halfway mark. Chelsea are in third but only by two points. And while Manchester United are seventh and eleven points back of the leaders, a win would shrink that to 8 and a loss could see it increase to an all but insurmountable 14. While these two teams played to a rather uneventful draw three weeks into the season a draw here does no one any favors so odds are there will be a lot more pressing and lot more scoring opportunities.
The game is on the NBC sports network, a channel that you probably don’t even realize you have. Its likely just after your ESPNs and then your CBS sports network and then your Big Ten network, you know the section of the guide I’m talking about. It starts at 11 and will take you right up to 1pm where you can get the rest of your football prep underway, maybe take a shower to help you relax after all the excitement, and then fire off a tweet or two about how a game of soccer really surprised you and how you might be on your way to becoming a fan.