A Loser’s Lament

Ah, football the beautiful cruel game.  Honestly thought Liverpool were the better team last night, but nonetheless, AC Milan won 2-1 (TTL agonizingly predicted a 2-0 Milan win).  Two goals from from the ghoulish Filippo Inzaghi were the difference as Milan avenged their historic loss in 2005.  Cannot stomach Inzaghi, an Italian’s Italian, but he does have a habit of scoring huge goals.  Really wanted Milan’s manager Carlo Ancelotti to start Gilardino instead of Inzaghi upfront, but alas Ancelotti proved wiser. 

As for LP’s Rafael Benitez, the Spanish tactician must have spent too long in the Athens sun/smog.  Rafa out-tinkered himself, playing not 1, but 2 ineffective wingers in Bolo Zenden and Jermaine Pennant.  Amazing that Zenden is important enough to warrant a starting place in the CL Final yet LP shows zero interest in re-signing him this summer.  Countless times in a 1st half that LP controlled, their attack petered out harmlessly when the ball was played out left to Zenden.  Yes, Zenden runs alot and works hard, but all that effort is rather futile when he can do nothing with the ball.  TTL will always be grateful to Zenden for his clutch penalty kick against Chelsea in the CL semis but his time in the LP shirt is over barring a major surprise.    

Pennant played o.k., but his threats down the right-side were more due to Milan leftback Marek Jankulovski’s startling ineptitude, than to Pennant’s own skills.  Also, never see the point of playing Pennant without Peter Crouch, as Pennant’s strength is crossing balls into the box.  It’s very difficult, even for a 6’7″ robotic freak like Crouch, to get his head on Pennant’s crosses from the substitutes’ bench.  Think Pennant will remain at Liverpool, as he’s an important player for the overall depth of the team.  Meaning he’s perfect to start against the lower-tier Premiership sides during the long grind of the season while (hopefully) better players are rested. 

Overall, it was not a good game just compelling drama because it was the Champions League Final.  Surprised that Milan started so poorly and struggled for ages to get going.  Their 1st goal, right at halftime, was just plain luck as Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick deflected off Inzaghi’s arm wrong-footing goalkeeper Pepe Reina.  Even from TTL’s completely biased point of view, not sure if was a deliberate handball, but the goal could have been disallowed.  That goal erased 45 minutes of LP control and gave the (correct) feeling that it was Milan’s night. 

Inzaghi’s 2nd goal in the 82nd minute effectively sealed the game.  Kaka played a smart through pass to Inzaghi who had perfectly timed his run to beat the offside trap.  Inzaghi coolly rounded Reina and snuck a shot into the far corner sending the Milan fans into ecstasy.  Ye Greek gods those 2 sentences hurt to write. 

The Dutch pornstar, Dirk Kuyt, pulled one back from LP in the 88th minute but no miraculous Istanbul comeback was on offer.  Kuyt’s goal was super-frustrating in that it came from a corner.  It was the only corner/free kick that LP whipped into the box all game as they continued their curious season-long habit of playing cute with set pieces.  Can’t quite fathom why they don’t put into the box and let Carragher, Gerrard, Agger, Crouch etc. try to get a head on it. 

Well, that is the 2006-2007 Champions League.  Won by a team that was lucky to be included after originally being booted out of the CL in the wake of last season’s Serie A corruption scandal.  Italy is truly the country of the moment in world football with Milan winning its 7th European crown and Italy the reigning World Cup Champs.  A begrudinging congrats to Milan but allow TTL to vent.  

This blog doesn’t enjoy Italian-style football.  Abhor the fake orgasms of pain from an allegely “injured” Italian player flailing about the pitch.  The slap on the wrist punishments for the corruption in the Serie A were a joke.  There is an alarming level of hooliganism/racism still present (let’s throw some flares and coins “fans”).  Italian fans are great front-runners but seem to enjoy trashing their teams more than supporting them.  The list can go on, but the point is made.  Would like to dedicate this rant to the super-annoying Milan supporter (and his teddy bear?!??) who was standing on the roof of his car singing along to “We are the Champions” outside Fatboy’s last night.  Taking in this display TTL’s wife succinctly commented, “I hope he falls off.” 

Tomorrow will scan some various topics and do The Best of Sports.  Enjoy the games you play and watch.    

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