“El Clasico” is known to every football fan in the world. Here on Sodor, there are big rivalries as well, and they tend to be intracity. Welcome to Knapford, where things will get nasty on Sunday (2/15). (Well, as nasty as things get on Isle. Might see a slide tackle or two attempted! Remember: hard defense is considered here to be more than uncouth.)
For this year, they’ve settled on calling this the Yards-Sheds Classic. Junction & Sheds have never been known as anything but. Knapford Town changed from Knapford Yards FC when the FA came into being a year ago, wanting to differentiate themselves from the more purely blue-collar branding of J&S.
Knapford Town have had the better of things in league this season, just moved into 2nd place, five behind surprising league leaders Dryaw FC. Junction & Sheds are in a tie for 8th. Getting more than a couple positions higher will be hard for them, as the top few have some space in the table between them and the pack now.
How do the teams play? Their League campaigns have pretty much reflected their FA Cup runs from this summer.
During the inaugural FA Cup of summer 2018, Knapford Town tended to win but lose close. They made the Round of 16 before falling in the penalty shootout to E.C.D. (East Coast Diesel) of Vicarstown.
Junction & Sheds (#1 supporter Alexi Lalas) advanced just as far. They suffered the same fate in losing to eventual championBrendam Harbor, going down at the shootout. They scored tied for second in Group Stage scoring at 17 goals over the three matches, with just tiny shocker Cabalnoo getting more (18).
Win lose or draw, J&S work hard to score and that’s about it. (They conceded 14 in that Group Stage. No team plays the classic Sudric 5-5-good luck back there! formation quite as religiously as Sheds.
Their first meeting this year ended in a 5-5 draw. Rumor has it that J&S will pull the goalie at select times and play a 6-5-void formation. When it comes to offensive-mindedness, good luck outdoing the Sudrics generally. KTFC can keep up with a lot of teams in a game like that, but probably not against J&Sand they know it. They’ll look to play things comparatively closer to the vest most of the match, then try running wild if it’s tied or close late.
English Premier League Mike Dean is quite likely the most flamboyant referee in the history of soccer. In Manchester City’s 6-0 defeat of Chelsea this weekend, Dean’s usual flair was again on display. In addition to his strange positions and dramatic gestures, he even stuffed the game ball under his shirt to hide it from Sergio Aguero (who’d had a hat trick).
Between fixtures, Dean often heads to Barrow and then across the Walney Channel to Vicarstown, Sodor! Noob’s picking up on all manner of fun things now that I’m living on the Isle more or less full-time. I caught up with Mr. Dean at local drinking house “The Furnace” for a rare interview…that didn’t go where Noob thought it would.
Noob: Mike, thanks for the sit-down!Mike Dean: You challenged me to try the sparkling rhubarb vermouth. What was I supposed to say, no? I'm Mike flippin' Dean. Noob: I am Noob!Mike Dean: Splendid.Noob: Interview?Mike Dean: Balls. What the heck. Noob: Let's talk sportsball.Mike Dean: Bloody hell. It's a weird vermouth, not that nice South African malbec on yonder shelf. Let's talk dancing.Noob: Well, I'm not as light on my feet as I once was, but --Mike Dean: Shut the cuss up. Did you know I was a ballroom dancing champion?Noob: You shut the cuss up!Mike Dean: They've talked to me about being on Strictly Come Dancing. I'm big enough in England, certainly. But they only do Latin and ballroom on that show. I want to show my range.
Noob: What, you want to replace Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor?Mike Dean: You're an odd chap. No. I want to be on Dancing With the Stars. So many more styles get featured! Jitterbug. Disco. And if you think I can't Lindy Hop , I'll punch you in the face.
Noob: I didn't say you couldn't.
Mike Dean: Smart lad. Smarter than those clowns at your ABC. They won't even return my calls.
Noob: I call shenanigans.
Mike Dean: Alexis Ren. Bobby Bones. Pshaw. Know who the biggest "star" they got was? John. Effing. Schneider. If you don't think I can't outdance Bo Duke, I'll...I'll... *sputters*
Noob: Punch Noob in the face?Mike Dean: This vermouth isn't bad. Who's Noob?Noob: I am Noob!Mike Dean: Splendid. Say, you're media here, of a sort. Don't suppose you know if Sodor has a dancing competition show.Noob: Don't think so. But they're having a Grease-themed sock hop dance-off at the high school reunion nearby tonight.
Aaaaand that’s when Mike Dean punched me in the face, signaling the end of the interview. And you know what? Good on him. That sock hop was beneath him.
Join Noob next time as I try to get MLS Referee of the Year Alan Kelley mad enough to puncture my spleen by showing him my Dundalk jersey and telling him his former team Cork City of stinks.
(If you enjoyed this interview, may I humbly recommend the offerings on my D2 Interviews Page. And Noob is available to write all manner of craziness for your soccer site, or for other sports or any topic at all!)
Noob is preparing to morph this project into largely exclusive coverage of the inaugural Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage. There will be joy.
In the meantime, please indulge in the D-Twos-Day Interviews. This was the final post in that category (Page on right for all of them).
Welcome, Noobites, to the final 2017 edition of D-Twos-Day Interview. Noob’s had the unparalleled pleasure of interviewing coaches and myriad figures from the part of the soccer world we most celebrate: North American second division leagues!
But one of them, the North American Soccer League, is on its last legs. They need our help! Inspired by the 80’s classic song that raised nearly $150M in 2017-adjusted dollars to aid famine relief in Africa, Noob has gotten together an all-star cast to record a new version of”We Are the World”.
Thank you to all the surviving artists involved with the original for joining us. Special thanks to Dominic Kinnear for not breaking out mid-song into any Rush classic.
And no, Noob has no idea how this will help. But it WILL. And if you don’t get this, go back and check out all the great Interviews! The segment returns in 2018.
Lionel Richie:There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When D-2 must come together as one. Paul Simon: A tier-two league is dying
And it’s time to lend a hand to NASL Paul, Kenny Rogers: A soccer gift for all.
Noob: Noob can’t go on pretending day by day
That somehow, some way it’s gonna get saved Tina Turner:We’re all a part of D-2’s big family Billy Joel:And the truth, you know, Noob, Tina, Billy: Is this is all we neeeeeeeed
Choir:We are D-2. We are the coaches
We are the fans, the concerned parties
So let’s keep singing Diana Ross:It’s a choice we’re making
It’s not just USL Diana Ross and NASL federal case judge Margo K. Brodie: It takes both leagues to make a better day
Just wait and seeeeeee!
Puerto Rico FC head coach Marco Velez: Thought Noob was my tio, but now I call him Noober
And our lives together are stronger and free Willie Nelson: As we have shown you, by calling him “asshat” Willie and Marco Velez: We’re strong. And nothing can defeat us now! (background: Cyndi Lauper – “but Miami FCeeeeeeee!)
Edmonton FC head coach Colin Miller: Called him the C-word – in Scottish Gaelic
But he mailed me booze, 30 years old
Turns out Noob’s no dick!
(background: Noob – “Could we find a way to rephrase that please?)
New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso: D-2 status be damned
Noob agrees with me
It’s true we should just care
L.A. Galaxy asst. coach Dominic Kinnear: When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all Huey Lewis: But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall Cyndi Lauper: Well, well, well! Let’s realize that a change can only come Huey, Cyndi, Kim Carnes, and OKC Energy ‘Grid’ fan club prez Joseph Pugh: When we stand together as one!
(Joseph Pugh cont.: “WOOO!! Do it, Nooner!)
Choir: They went dark-arts, went Santeria
Burned rabbit bones and burned Pele’s jock
To save our leaaaaague! Incoming USL club owner Bobby Jones:Noob hates my teams’ name – boring Austin FC. Jacksonville Armada owner Robert Palmer: At least he didn’t think you were a reincarnated pop-rock arteeeeest.
Choir: We are the fans, the concerned parties
So let’s keep singing
It’s a choice we’re making
It’s not just USL.
It takes both leagues to make a better day
Just wait and seeeeeee!
TottenhamHotspurworld.com founder and writer Will Rivard was kind enough to “join” Noob, in a manner of speaking, for an interview.
Tenured Noobites know I spurn the Spurs, named as they are for historical traitor Henry Percy. But Noob respects fellow writers and Will’s excellent. More, this is the sort of site to which fans should graduate as they learn more. I wanted to share something like this before I take a scale back, take a hiatus of sorts from project SoccerNoob.
(Why some text of Will’s is red and why some is not will be made clear at post’s end.)
Hello? Who’s calling pleeease?
This is Will Rivard, Spurs supporter and creator of Tottenham Hotspur World website/blog.
I can’t believe you showed! I would’ve assumed you did your research, saw how my “D2 Coaches Interviews” from last year went, how these sorts of things get handled here.
Yeah, about those. Are those real, did you actually talk to anyone?
Ummm…er….Hey now, who’s conducting this interview, you or me, Mr. Rivard?
I just thought, well –
Moving on! You’ve offered to take part in this interview. In the context of knowing Noob is anti-Spurs, why?
Personally, I really like your sense of humor and site, so it was a no-brainer… besides what better way to change your mind than answering your questions (The More You Know…)
What a coincidence. Most describe this site as a “no-brainer”. So you hope to convert Noob to being a Spurs fan?
Slowly but surely… I’ll settle for Noob not being anti-Spurs for now, but before you know it… You too will be a One Hotspur Member (but who knows?
How long have you been running your site-blog?
I have been running my site since January of 2018.
Is this the first incarnation of your Tottenham site?
I have changed the appearance of my site a few times since its inception but have kept the format relatively similar throughout
Is this the first incarnation of your Tottenham site?
I have changed the appearance of my site a few times since its inception but have kept the format relatively similar throughout
What blogging platform or content management tool do you use?
I use BlueHost as far as the web hosting aspect of the site. The blogging platform I currently use is WordPress. I have been very satisfied with both.
Your site looks better than mine. I shake my fist at you.
I’ll see your shaking fist and take a bow for that humble praise… Seriously though it took much trial and error to get it to look the way it is, and honestly there are some days that I want to change the appearance completely. (That’s probably the perfectionist in me.)
Do you do a podcast or use other media platforms for THW?
I don’t personally have a podcast that I produce, but I have been fortunate enough to appear on several podcasts including: Bros Talking Soccer, LADS (Loud Americans Discussing Soccer), Two Foot Talk, and Top Class Finish.
I heard your interview on Bros Talking Soccer. I, too, appeared on BTS. Perhaps I should’ve come to you for coaching on how to be a proper guest.
Yeah, I caught that episode. I’m….not sure you could afford my rates.
Diplomatically-played, Will. What podcasts or other soccer media things do you enjoy?
I can honestly say that all the podcasts I’ve appeared on I really enjoy to listen to and try to catch them every week. Though you are still hung up on the whole Henry Percy thing, I do find your blog both entertaining and refreshing, a nice break from all the transfer gossip etc. in the English papers. Two additional pods I really enjoy (both are Tottenham podcasts based in London) are (1)The Fighting Cock and (2) The Extra Inch.
Whoa there, cowboy! Those last two don’t sound like soccer. Noob doesn’t run blue. Ever think of doing your own podcast?
At some point I would love to start my own podcast, but I don’t have any plans in place at this time.
How often do you post, in and out of season?
I post on average 2-3 times per week in and out of season. During the summer it might be more focused on transfers, spotlighting young players, and covering Spurs players participating in competitions with their national teams.
Do you have a theme song on the site, something groovy for folk to listen to while perusing THW?
I do not, but that’s a good idea, maybe if things really take off we go “Mo Money Mo Problems” by Notorious B.I.G.
Had I been a baseball player, my walk-up music would’ve been Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind”. Let’s give the readers a choice in background music.
I think that would’ve been vetoed in stadiums, unless someone understood you were making a joke about striking out.
Jokes are so much funnier when they get explained. Thanks for that.
Oh ho, you did check out some the D2 Coaches Interviews! Again, well-played. So, what is your background in soccer in general?
I’ve been playing the beautiful game since I was six years old. At my highest point I was the backup goalkeeper and Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Unfortunately I only made one appearance for the first team in my lone season there. Funny story about that game: I actually dislocated my pinky finger in warmups but since I hadn’t played all year, I decided I wouldn’t tell the coach and play anyways. (It didn’t matter as we won rather easily — 3-0. I don’t think I had to make but a couple of stops)
After graduating from Auburn University, I actually coached one year of High School Soccer at Opelika High School (Opelika, AL). We only won five games, but apparently that was four more than they won the season before. I enjoy watching Tottenham, Celtic, and the U.S. Men’s National Team play. I’ve actually seen the USMNT play three times in person and got to watch Spurs play Manchester City in Nashville, TN a few years ago. (Actually got to meet the entire Spurs team the day before at training, pretty cool stuff.)
How did you come to be a Tottenham Hotspur fan?
I grew up playing soccer (among other sports) but only became a Spurs fan about 4 years ago. I love the attacking style of play Tottenham employ. In this video, every Spurs player touches the ball in the lead up to the goal.
I also like how they seem to be one big band of brothers, Dele Alli and Eric Dier in particular are hilarious when they get together.
And if the way Heung-Min Son plays the game doesn’t give you joy then you might not be human.
The way that Tottenham have built the current team (promoting from the youth ranks, wise financial decisions, not spending ridiculous amounts of money like the Manchester clubs and Chelsea) is really refreshing, I feel like they don’t just buy players, but develop them as well. For instance, Harry Kane was actually let go by arch rivals Arsenal before he was 10 years old, and then came over to Spurs, and I bet they regret that every-time he bangs in a goal against them.
Why is the club named for an historical traitor?
So, from the research I’ve done (which isn’t much, mind you) what I can concur is that it has more to do with the speed of attack that Henry Percy’s forces attacked with as well as his willingness to bravely rush into the thickest part of battle, with spurs on. It didn’t hurt that he had his family owned a significant amount of land in Tottenham as well. Fun fact though, Sol Campbell is often referred to as a traitor by Spurs supporters. Prior to Campbell’s contract expiring Campbell promised Spurs supporters he would stay. Instead of staying Sol instead
joined Spurs arch-enemy Arsenal (he could’ve avoided the situation entirely by either signing a new deal or going to Barcelona or Inter Milan)
That’s a sad story. Am I supposed to be moved to pity for Sir Topham Hatt Hotpur, traitor to multiple kings, nefarious ne’er-do-well and all around cretinous yahoo?
What’s with Sir Topham Hatt instead of “Tottenham”?
Noob will not type He Who’s Name Shall Not Be Typed!
But it appears in type earlier in this interview…
Quiet, heathen! I mean, um, moving on – What all teams and other facets of the Tottenham organization/culture/life do you cover on your site?
So just like the name of the site Tottenham Hotspur World, I aim to cover the entire World of Spurs. The Tottenham teams I cover on my site include the Mens: U18, U23. UEFA Youth League, and of course the First Team, I also cover the Spurs Ladies (who are currently at the top of the table in the FA Women’s Championship). In addition to all the teams I have started interviewing Spurs supporters from all over the World for my Spurs Supporters Spotlight series. Finally, for the new Spurs (or soccer/football) fans I’ve been working on a Premier League Terminology Series. The series is in alphabetical order, beginning with terms starting with the letter “A” and it will conclude with “Z.” I’ve been able to incorporate several of the excellent videos courtesy of The Soccer Tavern in those articles.
What is your favorite thing about Spurs culture, supporters?
Tough question, so difficult to only pick one. I will say, one thing I really love is that when I am watching Spurs play an away match on TV and hear the supporters chanting..it just gives me chills. The supporters really are some of the best in the world, I’ve had so many conversations with fellow Spurs fans on Twitter from all over the world, and we may all come from different places/walks of
life/beliefs, etc. but if we ever have any differences we can put them all aside for Tottenham. A good example is Moussa Sissoko, for the first season or so he has been with Tottenham he was underwhelming to say the least, and the supporters were all over him (sad to say but I was guilty of giving the Frenchman a tough time too). However, over the past few games he looks like a new man and has been one of our more reliable players, so much so that the fans were chanting his name after we defeated London rivals Crystal Palace recently…what a difference a few good performances makes.
Where does Tottenham fall in overall level of Premier League, general success, compared to other teams?
Spurs are definitely a successful club, one of the “Top 6” (along with Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United). While much of the talk around Spurs at the moment centers around needing to win something, Spurs have historically been a rather successful club, and you can find a list of their accomplishments here .
Remaining based in their current home, would Spurs win both the MLS Supporters Shield and MLS Cup running away? Would they lose a match?
Very creative question…the MLS is growing as a league and becoming more competitive every year. However, I think if Spurs were playing solely in the MLS (and didn’t have to worry about the Champions League, FA Cup, etc.) they would likely win both the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup (though I could probably say the same for the other “Top 6” Premier League Clubs. It’s hard to go undefeated in any league so I’ll defer to Noobstradamus on that one.
Who should I know from Spurs?
From the current team I would say Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen are three of the most recognizable Tottenham players. Kane is obviously one of the best strikers on the planet, and Christian Eriksen is the Spurs player who can unlock even the most difficult of opposition. Dele Alli is full of flicks and tricks (he never passes up a chance to nutmeg someone, whether it’s during a match or even in practice against his own teammates) and the runs he makes off the ball are not only underrated, but help free up his teammates. There are several Spurs players throughout history that definitely should be mentioned. Jimmy Greaves leads not only Tottenham in goals scored (266), but is also the highest goal scorer in the top flight in England (357), he played at Spurs from 1961-1970. Before Jurgen Klinsmann was the coach of Germany and later the USMNT, he was a cult hero at Tottenham. Though he only spent one season at Spurs (1994-1995) he was loved by supporters selling over 150,000 shirts and scoring 30 goals that year.
What is COY?
I think you mean COYS?COYS means Come On You Spurs and basically is our rallying cry.
Mine is “I am Noob!” IMN! Hmm, not the same. Is there other jargon Noob or actual potential Spurs fans should know?
There are several things, but most importantly WE DON’T WEAR RED (the color of arch rivals Arsenal) and you can’t root for the other London clubs, they are our sworn enemies. As far as other things to know about Spurs, this article from Cartilage Free Captain gives a good rundown over everything.
OK, let’s talk about our relationship.
I’ll rephrase. Don’t want to make my first-ever interviewee uncomfortable. Would you argue with me about Spurs on a podcast, yours or mine?
I would gladly argue, discuss, “banter” Spurs or anything else on either your pod or mine. In fact,
I have a question for you, Noob. Can we be best friends?
Why, Will! What an unexpected questions. I’m beyond flattered and –
The Management here. For newer readers, I frequently have to cut Noob off on his posts, clarify things, keep general order. Will Rivard did not ask Noob about being best friends. The Management will not return you to the interview, with the expectation that the next question is included as happened in the actual interview. Thank you for your time and attention. – The Management.
You know, The Management. Words can hurt.
Can we be best friends, Will Rivard?
Hmmm…You are going to have start to come around on Tottenham and get over the whole traitor thing first.
Once again, diplomatically and well-played, sir.
Will, thank you for agreeing to do the interview (especially knowing it would get all Noob’ed up). Good fortune to you with Tottenham Hotspur World. And you’re welcome for differentiating between answers you actually gave from those I conjured up with red, your favorite color.
TGIGF! “The ten most important matches for us – the newish American fans of the global game – to follow.” Noob hopes the advent if the World Cup has brought many new patrons so that you can learn some fun stuff about the game, its leagues and such.
There are three World Cup matches today, and it goes without saying that all are “more important” than anything else going on in the football-world. Noob plans on just previewing one each day early on, with priority given to CONCACAF, top-ranked Euro, South American, and other world teams, in that order.
Noob will continue to spend much of this space on top matches from other domestic leagues and cup tournaments, if for no other reason than to be different from the myriad of other soccer coverage out there.
Portugal vs Spain – FIFA World Cup
#4 versus #10 FIFA-ranked teams in the world face off here. These two are expected to advance as the top finishers in this Group, and easily. The question will be who actually wins the Group, which will matter for Knockout Round seeding.
Ronaldo for Portugal and Silva for Spain are the two biggest stars playing today in a match bursting with them. Also, and strangely – Spain fired their undefeated head coach two days ago. What the fruit?
There. Just enough to get you through water cooler-level chat. Noob knows more in-depth coverage is out there. I’ll be checking it out and learning myself!
RESULT: 3-3 A match for the ages! Ronaldo with all three goals for Spain and Diego Costa with a pair for Portugal.
B. Castle Rolf vs. Suddery – Isle of Sodor Premier Cup
Three matches today in the IOS Cup. This is the best one, as two Group E teams from the Premier League clash. Castle Rolf finished 5th in the last PL table. Suddery has an uncharacteristically poor year, sliding to 9th.
Castle Rolf have the closest thing to a good defense on Sodor. They gave up just 1.1 goals per match last season. Suddery seemed to be victims of bad luck, leading the league in shots that hit woodwork by a wide margin (39!)
At least Noob assumes so. Sodor is an odd place…
3. Cobresal vs. CD Everton – Copa Chile
It’s the Second Round in Chile’s FA Cup and 32 teams remain. This match should be a doozie. Cobresal are the top performer this year in the country’s second division. C.D. Everton are in dead last in the Primera Division.
The first match of this two-legged tie at C.D.E. ended in a scoreless draw. Noob still thinks Cobresal will be over-performing if they keep this one a draw again and force penalty kicks. They’re in different leagues for a reason, plain and simple.
Fun Fact: El Salvador, Actama, Chile is more mining camp than anything else, where Cobresal are from.
RESULT: Cobresal 1-1 / 4-5 pk
Ventsplis vs. Spartaks – Latvian Higher League
Welcome to the 41st-ranked league (of 54) in Europe. Impressive? Perhaps not. But as Noob is taking to saying this time of year – hey, they’re playing!
These two are #B and #3 in this eight-team league. They’re pretty even statistically. RFS is the class and goal-scoring machine of this league.
RESULT: Spartaks 1-2
Ventsplis’ crest is solid enough, yet would look even better as a key chain.
Plavinas DM vs. Auda – Latvia Cup
Let’s double dip in Lativia! Second Round action, 32 teams remain. Unlike in Chile, this tournament is Knockout – one match and done.
Noob doesn’t have a lot to add for this one; just know that it’s happening. Plavinas DM are a third-tier team, but I have no idea of what quality. Auda are a second-division side, 8th place.
Fun Fact: On Mythbusters, the idea that double-dipping a chip into dip spread as much bacteria as just sticking one’s whole mouth in the dip was debunked.
RESULT: Auda 1-9 not a typo
Brittons Hill vs. Weymouth Wales – Barbados Premier
This league is divided into what they label “zones”, as opposed to divisions. These two are 1st and 3rd in one of them.
Each zone this year has one team absolutely laying waste to the rest. Weymouth Wales is one of those. They’ve outscored teams this year by a ridiculous 36-5 margin. They’ll be playing Barbados Defence Force from the other zone for the league title eventually.
The best players in Barbados can shoot Spidey-webs..
APR vs. Rayon Sports – Rwanda National League
Rwandan top-flight teams have done just enough to move into the CAF rankings for next year, moving into a tie for 26th. Hey, they’re playing!
APR are #B and part of a two-team race for this league’s title and CAF Champions League berth. Rayon Sports are just a spot back, but seven points behind them and the season is over two dozen matches in. Apr are better on both sides of the ball, if not by leaps and bounds. This is a key home match to not blow if they want to keep pace with AS Kigali.
Fun Fact: APR stands for Armée Patriotique Rwandaise (FC)
RESULT: APR 2-1
Sporting de Cabinda vs. Kabuscorp – Angola Girabola
Angola’s top league climbed to #13 in this year’s continental rankings – just one spot shy of earning themselves a second CAF Champions League berth.
Kabuscorp are in a three-way tie for 1st place. Noob read somewhere that this club had been penalized table points for financial naughtinesses, but such is not reflected in the table out there Noob most trusts.
Kabuscorp is the offensive terror of the league. This is a bad matchup for mid-table SdC, as they have trouble scoring.
RESULT: now slated for tomorrow
That shaded area is the exclave province of Cabinda, separated from the country by DR Congo territory.
Cheng Fung vs. Alfandega – Macao Premier
This is the 33rd-ranked league in Asia, of 46 associations. The real battle in this one will be between #B and 3rd place. Cheng Fung is in 4th. Today is a day they can start to make a move on placing, Alfandega are last place with just one win and no draws in 15 matches.
Noob handicaps this match at +5 goals. Alfandega have only scored 5 all year while allowing a staggering 79.
Fun Fact: That’s a really, really bad goal differential.
RESULT: Cheng Fung 1-0 Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Cheng Fung.
Guarani vs. Sao Bento – Brazil Serie B
10th versus 6th doesn’t sound like much, but the top four get promoted to Serie A at season’s end. Sao Bento haven’t shown yet that they have offense to compete with the top contenders here. These need to pick up evenly-matched road games like these to hope to make the climb.
Fun Fact: Sao Bento’s club was founded by horse tack manufacture employees.
So long from Cateye-witness News newscat and me. Sorocaba, Sao Bento, Brazil. Signing off.
Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – UEFA Champions League – The Final! Kiev will rock for one of the great spectacles of sport. Let’s do in-depth preview stuff!
Real Madrid have won it a bunch in recent years. Had a tough start to their league season, but have rounded into form. Liverpool surprised perhaps ever so slightly by making the final, but they did finish top four in Premier League.
Real Madrid attack really well. Ronaldo and Messi are primo. Liverpool are likely the greatest counterattacking team in the world. Mohammed Salah set the Premier League record for goal-scoring,
This is Noob, as am I. If you want comprehensive coverage/guessing, it’s easy to find a million places. This is enough to get a raw Noobite through light pregame convo should you find yourself in such.
For Noob, there’s only one way to determine in advance which team to root for/who will win. You must examine the traditional stew of each club’s home city!
Liverpudlians love their scouse. As one might imagine for stews, there are many variants, and what is traditional in this one has changed a lot over time as well. Today, it is made with lamb (or beef), vegetables (usu. potatoes), carrots and onions. Side dishes traditionally include pickled beetroot (or red cabbage) and bread.
Review: Looks like a straightforward boiled stew. Noob’s going to look askance at much that is pickled beyond cucumbers, but as side dishes, these are not dealbreakers. If soda bread were the specific sort, would be big in scouse’s favor. Noob does love lamb. Potatoes are hearty. Scouse scores solidly.
In Madrid, most especially on Tuesdays, the dish to be had is cocido madrileño. The main in gradient is not the meat, but rather, chickpeas! Potatoes are the most common other vegetable, though cabbage, carrots and turnips are hardly uncommon additions.
There is meat involved, usually pork, and more often pork belly specifically. Onion morcillo, too. That’s blood sausage. More, you get jamonseranno, which is dried or cured ham of the black Iberian pig. When cooking, one tosses in a hambone and beef spine bone to enrich the broth.
Review: Noob enjoys falafel, but that’s where chickpeas belong. Noob’s an adventurous eater, and pork belly is fine. In knowing black Iberian pig is a thing already exhausts Noob’s knowledge of that. Blood sausage – sorry, but we’re getting into an aesthetics issue. The vegetables are a wash against scouse.
Wait, what’s this? The broth, vegetables, and meat are served separately? This may be a stew when it’s cooked, but it’s not a served-stew, not as far as Noob is concerned. And good LAWD! The truly traditional way to prepare the pork is to not only cure it, but to the point of nearly being rancid??
Is pig stomach whetting your apptetite, Noobites? Now let it spoil…
Folks, scouse wins by default, and yet by a landslide. Liverpool will win the day on the football pitch. And if we’re going for a score based on the stew review, they win 0-6 today.
Rest up, Noobites! Globetrotting Friday and the weekend are coming.
Today, an off-day. Schedule is light. There are a few Copa Libertadores group stage matches, and a solid enough matchup featuring the #B and #3 teams in Serbia. Argentina and Brazil FA Cups are in action, though neither is even to the Quarterfinals yet. Google away! Now, Noober shall rest.
Welcome to the weekend preview for what Noob is tentatively referring to as “UEFA’s Next Up-Leagues”. I’m open to name suggestions. These are leagues ranked #7-15, the ones that get precisely two Champions League invitations.
The ones above get three or four, those below get one. Some are leagues that have slipped, others are up-and comers. You can find previews on the very top leagues most anywhere.
(Note: The ranking is UEFA’s coefficient ranking used strictly for determining how many clubs get CL invites for two years out. This is not a valuation of the strength of the depth of the leagues. Points toward the ranking are onlyearned through CL and Europa League participation.)
Noob composed this for a third party site, though it doesn’t appear to have made their cut. This in many ways resembles the ’10 to Track’ format, and I ask that Noobites forgive any match-overlap.
Let’s visit the Contenders!
League: Primeira Liga, Portugal
Match: Sporting Lisbon vs. Benfica (Saturday, 5/5)
This league got passed by Russia’s Premier in 2017-18. The gap isn’t huge, but Portugal has no clubs left in the current Champions League or Europa, so we won’t see a change. Their hopes of climbing back up rest on the same three historically powerful clubs.
This match features two of them, and there are scant few matches left to be played. Benfica lost their last match at home to #10 Tondela. They can blame getting assigned to EL instead of CL squarely there if that comes to pass.
Sporting Lisbon, meanwhile, have won every league match in April! The competition hasn’t been the fiercest, but that’s still quite a streak, and they’ve managed it with both low- and high-scoring matches. They’re every bit as good on defense as their visitors today, and score in absolute droves. They’d be favored even on a neutral field.
Key Player: Bas Dost – Sporting Lisbon
The Dutch striker has averaged more than a goal per match in which he’s played this season. Sporting want this to be a shootout, and Dost’s will be prominently involved if that happens.
Prediction: Sporting 3-1
Ukraine Premier League – Shakhtar Donestsk vs. Zorya Luhansk (Saturday, 5/5)
Ukraine’s is a two-horse league – today’s hosts and Dynamo Kyiv. Both have already qualified for Champions League. Shakhtar lead Dynamo by just three in the table, and only the league winner will qualify directly to the Group Stage.
Zorya are in 4th, qualified to EL. If they can get to 3rd, they make the Group Stage specifically. They only trail 3rd-place Vorskla Potlava by a point. It’s hard to see them making up ground today though. They have trouble on defense for a top club here, and no one’s been stopping Shakhtar’s scorers all season.
Belgium First Division A – Club Brugge vs. Anderlecht (Saturday, 5/5)
Four matches to go, five points separate these two in the table. Anderlecht have two rivals for the second CL invite, so the pressure is squarely on them. Brugge is the offensive behemoth of this league, while Anderlecht have been getting by comparatively on gut and grit, taking close games all season.
The good news for Anderlecht? Brugge’s been playing just .500 ball since the league regular season ended and the clubs divided into championship and relegation playoff subdivisions. The bad news? They’ve only been .500 themselves.
Super Lig, Turkey – Istanbul Basaksehir vs. Sivasspor (Saturday, 5/5)
Welcome to the most dramatic league finish in Europe this season. They’ve even got it over on Italy. Four clubs are separated by just four points for the title. More, the 3rd and 4th place teams have played as many as three fewer matches than the clubs above them. Anarchy!
#1 Galatasaray just beat #4 Besiktas Sunday, 4/29 to retake that position, but they’ve played the most matches. None of the Big Four play one another this week. So the key match this one, because #7 Sivasspor represents the best chance of an upset.
Austria Bundesliga – LASK Linz vs. Rapid Wien (Saturday, 5/5)
We’ve now reached a point in the UEFA rankings where neither club going to CL qualifies directly to the Group Stage.
Neither of these clubs – #3 and #4 in the table, respectively – is likely to catch Sturm Graz and snag a CL berth. They have already both clinched EL invites though. Whichever can stay #3 has to play one less qualifying round there.
Rapid Wein have laid waste to the lesser teams of the league. LASK Linz should be able to take care of business at home today…if they can score at all. It’s been there weakness, and a big one.
Switzerland Super League – St. Gallen vs. Basel (Sunday, 5/6)
Basel have already clinched 2nd place (and cannot catch 1st) and their CL slot. Will they be less than motivated going forward? Basel sure hopes so. They’re in 4th and in line for EL, but haven’t clinched even that yet. They trail Luzern by just one, so could get 3rd and skip a qualifying round. But Zurich lurk only four more back.
Truth be told, St. Gallen’s overachieved to this point. They’re defense is [insert lame Swiss cheese joke HERE]. Zurich will catch them.
Czech First League – Sparta Praha vs. Viktoria Plzen
Praha = Prague. Plzen is pronounced “pl-zen-yuh”, as the n should have a mark above it that my touch keyboard doesn’t list amongst its special characters.
Language lessons aside, this is the best league in Europe you hear absolutely zilch about. Plzen are about to live up to their victorious-moniker and clinch, up nine on 2nd place Slavia Praha with just four matches to go. Sparta Praha are in 5th, clinging precariously to the league’s last EL spot in a tight bunch on both sides of them.
Eredivisie, Netherlands – Heerenveen vs. Feyenoord
Everyone seems so surprised the Dutch men’s national team didn’t qualify for World Cup this year. Don’t be. Their domestic teams have been abysmal in international play this season.
Just one match to go! Feyenoord won the KNVB (FA) Cup, and so qualified then for EL, there they’ll be. The next four teams in the table will vie postseason for the leagues last Europa invitation. Even a draw today all but guarantees Heerenveen a place in that playoff. A loss and they open the door to get jumped by ADO Den Haag.
Superleague Greece – Pas Giannina vs. Olympiakos
Congrats! You’ve made It to league #15 in UEFA. Croatia (who probably pass them next year) on down only get one representative each in Champions League.
All the European League spots have been claimed here, so the drama’s actually all gone out of this league. In the table, anyway. So far this season, #2 team’s owner angrily stormed the pitch twice in a single match with a holstered handgun plainly visible. And Olympiakos’ fans are so unruly, the league docked them three points in the table. Never know what you’re getting in Greece.
#3 Olympiakos would be really hot about that deduction if it had cost them a Champions League berth. This is the last match of the season and they’re behind #2 by four though. None of the top clubs here have tough matchups today. Pas Giannina are #11 and host, represent the best chance at an upset this weekend.