The Interview was going to be the best movie of 2014. Now that it’s not going to come out, we feel comfortable with that prediction. The previews looked terrible, and none of us have really bought into the Rogan-Franco bromance, but now we can confidently, if retrospectively, predict: It was going to defy expectations. But thanks to Sony crumbling, we’ll never know.
If you’re anything like us, you spent this weekend soaking in the finer points of life, knowing North Korea can defile the rest of our Western Capitalist Utopia at any time. We cracked open that 2009 Revana we bought in Napa. We went to the park and lived out the fantasy of stealing every person’s dog. We kissed life on the lips, let her smack us across our faces, and recoiled to proclaim “Worth it, and we’d do it again!”
In the meantime, North Korea was probably changing Mike Seaver’s Wikipedia, setting up a PAC for Lyndon LaRouche, and hacking our browser histories. You know, inspiring revolution where there’s none to be had.
While that revolt foments, we’ll get caught up on the soccer weekend. If Kim has his way, it may be our last.
World champions, also unbeatable
What’s more impressive: A world title, or winning 22 games in a row? In the soccer world, club world titles are given out every year, but it’s been almost 40 years since a club put together a longer winning steak. After Saturday’s 2-0 win over South American champions San Lorenzo, the Merengues go into the new year chasing the 26-game mark set by Rinus Michels’ Ajax team in 1971-72 and German champions Dresden in 1942-43.
If exclusivity isn’t your benchmark of greatness, consider probability. Break out your high school math, assign Real Madrid a generously respectful one in 20 chance of losing a game, and the team has a little less than one-in-three chance of getting to 22 in a row (32.3 percent probability). Perhaps that doesn’t seem extraordinary, but consider: In some of El Real’s matches (like, say, against Barcelona), it’s been much more likely to lose. There’s a reason so few teams have been here before.
World titles are nice, but this streak is insane. Unfortunately for Real Madrid, a trip to Valencia and two Copa ties with Atlético need to be navigated if los Blancos are going to get to 26.
Signs of life from Oceania
When Australia bolted from the confederation in 2006, Oceania seemed destined to be forgotten. For the most part, that’s happened. New Zealand qualified for the World Cup in 2010, but the region wasn’t represented this summer in Brazil. Even on the club scene, Wellington Phoenix plays across the new divide in Australia’s A-League. This confederation was supposed to go away.
At the Club World Cup, Auckland City offered a counter argument, defeating Morocco’s Moghreb Tétouan and Algeria’s ES Sétif before reaching Saturday’s third place game by way of an extra time, semifinal loss to San Lorenzo. But instead of being waylaid by that setback, the New Zealanders rekindled its underdog’s run against Cruz Azul, earning plaudits back home after navigating penalty kicks to claim third at the Club World Cup.
Are the Navy Blues really that good? Probably not. A semi-pro team, Auckland City didn’t even win its group in OFC Champions League. Still, after losing only once in Morocco, Oceania’s best showed there’s still something the world’s forgotten region can offer.
Maybe that offering only happens once every four years, but it happens. OFC need not be forgotten.
Ronaldo’s statue is uncomfortable
What do you do after your club wins a world title? If you’re Cristiano Ronaldo, you fly home and unveil a statue of yourself.
But there’s something else about this statue that’s worth a mention. There’s just … one aspect of it that jumps out. Something that’s pointing right at us, saying “talk about me. Talk to me.”
Can’t put our fingers on it. Don’t want to put our fingers on it.
So Arsenal made history. The team also barely touched the ball in the first half, but instead of Liverpool blowing the match open early, the Reds went into halftime tied at one. In the second, Olivier Giroud went five-hole on Brad Jones before only for Martin Skrtel — he whose head injury cause nine minutes of stoppage time — to head home the equalizer, with Arsenal’s defense failing to pick up the Liverpool defender as he ran onto Philippe’s Coutinho’s out-swinging corner.
Should Skrtel have even been playing? Why was Arsenal even in front? Why didn’t Arsène Wenger get punished for his game plan, and Brendan Rodgers rewarded for his? Did Mathieu Debuchy really score off a header? And are either of these two teams any good?
Arsenal’s in sixth, Liverpool’s 10th, so … kinda. Regardless, it was still a damn crazy day to go into Boxing Day.
Adam Johnson owns Newcastle
For the fourth straight derby, Sunderland toppled Newcastle. And for the Black Cats’ third straight trip to St. James Park, Adam Johnson played a key part. Seconds before the clock reached full-time on Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby, Johnson sparked and finished the counter attack on the game-winning goal, giving Sunderland a 1-0 win and the winger his third goal in as many trips to the club he used to support.
It was a moment of brilliance from a match that featured more full-blooded tackles than chances; more allusions to derby intensity than ideas for how to win the game. Ultimately, though, Sunderland didn’t need a new idea. It just needed the same man who’s plagued Newcastle since his move from Manchester City to score his obligatory goal. This one, for the second time since Johnson moved back north, won a derby at Newcastle.
He also gave one man reason to get up:
Signs Falcao may be a thing in Stretford
After Saturday’s 1-1 at Villa Park, Manchester United’s six-game winning streak is more, yet there was a positive to take from the Red Devils’ performance against Aston Villa. Radamel Falcao, generally a non-factor since beginning his loan from Monaco, scored the equalizer – only his second goal in nine appearances for United.
Look at the exuberance! This is the look of a man who knows that some high-end loan shark in Manchester — possibly Mix Diskerud’s dad — is holding his family hostage until he justifies the money United is shipping to Monaco (unmarked bills, plastic wrapped, packed in coffee to hide the scent…allegedly).
If lightning strikes and van Persie and Falcao are ever alive at the same time, Manchester United could become this year’s Liverpool — a very-good-not-great team making the most of not having to deal with a loaded European schedule — and make an entertaining run for the top of the Premier League.
Luis Suárez finally scores, pretends to bite again
It took 577 minutes, but Luis Suárez finally scored a league goal for Barcelona, helping the Blaugrana to a 5-0 win over Cordoba. He also did this:
Hilarious. The act of a truly remorseful person, somebody who wants to move on from his past and start crafting a new image.
Pedro: This man took your job. Do not enable this person.
PSG, Roma, Dortmund tripped up
Elsewhere in Europe, …
France: Paris Saint-Germain suddenly finds two teams above it in Ligue 1. Marseille continues to set the pace, but after PSG’s 0-0 home draw with Montpellier and Lyon 5-0 rout at Bordeaux, it’s OL that now sits second in France. Perhaps as alarming: PSG’s goal difference (+19, 13 goals allowed) suggests it’s not worlds better than Marseille (+21, 19 GA) or Lyon (+23, 19 GA).
PSG could get better. It could also stay at this level. We may have an actual title race in France … which, let’s admit, none of us know what to do with.
Italy: In Italy, there’s little doubt there’s a race, but one week after closing the gap with Juventus to one point, Roma gave two points back this weekend. While Juve beat Calgiari mid-week, the Giallorossi fell at home to Milan, unable to take advantage of a final 20 minutes against 10 men. Perhaps it’s not a huge setback, but those were two points Roma should have got.
Germany: After losing Saturday at Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund’s now 30 points back of Bayern Munich. Thirty!
On one hand, it makes no sense to continue comparing BVB to Bayern, a team on the opposite end of the table. On the other hand, it’s the only way to put the team’s slide into perspective. With its latest loss, the 2012-13 Champions League finalists are in last place, and while most indicators say this is a temporary worst-case scenario, extreme situations have been known to snowball.
So 30. Thirty. THIRTY! Borussia Dortmund has been almost one-and-a-half points per round worse than the team it was supposed to challenge.
Atlético wins … in India
Congratulations to Atlético de Kolkata, but also to us. We saw this coming. We knew who the team you were supposed to throw your allegiance behind was, and leveraging every piece of Indian Super League knowledge we’ve mustered in our months of existence, we told you: Back Kolkata!
On Saturday, the Atleti-backed venture beat Kerala Blasters 1-0, claiming the ISL’s first title and handing player-coach David James little reward for his trans-world move. From England to Iceland to India, the former England international has traveled the globe to start his coaching career and start re-lining his bank account. Unfortunately, after conceding a stoppage time goal this weekend, that quest only found second place on the subcontinent.
And this …
From Kevin Brown, who really got at the heart of this story:
Lance Perry of Rowley College in the West Midlands Christian Football League, learned this after being sent off for alerting fellow players that there was some “dog shit” on the field – in that he was referring to animal waste, not commenting on the skill level of his opponents.
Seems shitty …
C’mon shitheads. Get your shit together. We need to call shit “shit.” “Poop” is for four year olds.