Hard as it is to believe, it’s been 10 years since Zinedine Zidane last stepped foot on a competitive soccer field. The Headbutt was the last we saw of Zidane-the-player, and the last time that nameplate graced the back of a jersey in anything other than charity matches and friendlies against tragically overweight former players.
Christian Pulisic didn’t start Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League match against Real Madrid on Tuesday. But my goodness did he finish it.
Real Madrid looked unfazed as it descended into the bubbling cauldron of BVB’s Signal Iduna Park, taking a 2-1 lead late into the second half. Pulisic, the King of America, came on with about 20 minutes to go and didn’t waste much time in lassoing the game and pulling it back into Dortmund’s favor.
It’s happening. The Convergence of the Spheres is upon us.
Or, you know, whatever. No, Carlo Ancelotti is not packing up his eyebrow and getting out of town. Martin Odegaard, he of Ultimate Internet Fame, is on the bench for Real Madrid’s season finale against Getafe on Saturday. With everything decided and Barcelona already holding the league trophy, Odegaard could be on the field for the Real Madrid senior team for the first time. Gird thyself. The Takes Are Coming. Valar Morghulis.
For about 87 minutes, the Champions League quarterfinal second leg between old rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid went predictably. Plenty of kicking, not much in the way of coherent interchange. Real Madrid tried some things – Ronaldo stepovers, James runs, Pepe frogstomps – and Atleti tried a couple quick-hitters, but it was no use. Much like the first leg, the game was fun but hopelessly disjointed.
And then Chicharito scored with minutes left and Madrid exploded.
This Sunday serves up another edition of El Clasico, as Barcelona hosts Real Madrid in one of, if not the best rivalry in world soccer.
To commemorate the upcoming game where past editions have featured great goals, amazing skill and epic hissy fits and brouhahas, scope out some of the best goals from meetings over the years, from the likes of Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Roberto Carlos and Lionel Messi.
Predictably, Schalke was bullied out of the Champions League by Real Madrid on Tuesday. Unpredictably, Schalke made Real Madrid score five goals over two legs to do it. Trailing 2-0 on aggregate after a disappointing home loss two weeks ago, Schalke faced dire straits at the Bernabeu.
And yet the German knockout krill was resplendent anyway. Schalke led (deservedly) for a not insignificant portion of the match, and Real Madrid needed to plunge its hand deep into is moneybag just to lose 4-3. At home. Booed off by your own fans. Schalke was vibrant, exciting, alive. Real Madrid looked bored defensively and reactive in the attacking third but advanced anyway on aggregate.
About a year and a half ago, we brought you the news that Real Madrid had signed a nine-year old WONDERPHENOMCHILD named Takuhiro Nakai. Our initial crack reporting that Real had lured Nakai to the club with a contractual promise of Twizzlers and gum has never been refuted. Keep that in mind. Important.
Now, Nakai is 11, which is roughly how the progression of time works. And he’s still making other small children look stupid, which is roughly how development works. So forget everything you know about Martin Odegaard. Nakai is prepping to make his first team debut in a couple months. Eleven is the new 19.
It’s still amazing to me that these work, but the world is a maelstrom of strange, so here we are. This British gent dressed up like Cristiano Ronaldo in the tradition of men who do such things, and got a number, nearly got into a fight with a child and did some other things.
Take a dash of cringe, mix it with the funny, splash in British humo(u)r and here we are. What the world really needs is fake Emile Heskey picking up girls by kicking them in the face with errant free kicks.
Earlier this season, Bayern Munich looked unstoppable in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. So to see the Champions League holders pummeled 4-0 at home on Tuesday at the hands of Real Madrid was something of a shock.
Sergio Ramos! scored twice, as did Ronaldo (can’t wait to see him against the USMNT), as Real Madrid advanced to the final for the first time since 2002.
Can anyone beat this? We’re down to four Champions League sides now, with Chelsea-Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid-Bayern left to duke it out for CL supremacy. Fun stuff.
But Did You Know: The fastest Champions League goal of all time belongs to Roy Makaay, who scored for Bayern (!) against Real Madrid (!!) in 10 seconds (!!!) on March 7, 2007. Let’s hope (maybe?) for a repeat in the semis. Wait. Are we supposed to root for one of these teams? Sounds dangerous. On second thought, let’s not do that.