Heading into the long Memorial Day Weekend, here’s some things to hold you over until Tuesday (*we are only 14 days away from the World Cup!!)
– EURO 2016 – Congratulations to France for being awarded the 2016 Euro Cup. This will also mark the inaugural year of expansion from 16 to 24 teams in the tournament. Some would argue this dilutes arguably the most talented of tournaments when looking at the strength of participating teams top to bottom. Well, of the 8 other teams who would have qualified in Euro 2008 under the future system, 3 are in this year’s World Cup (which for a single continent is very impressive). The remaining 5 teams have an average FIFA ranking of 36 – a very admirable average indeed.
Look, every tournament is going to have it’s bottom feeders. This World Cup features North Korea, New Zealand, and hosts South Africa (average FIFA ranking of 91). You also have Algeria, Honduras, Slovenia, and Japan — by no means pushovers but these guys are expected to simply take points from the best teams, not get out of the groups. So if you’re going to complain about the “sanctity” of the European Championships being tarnished, give it a break. If Greece could pull that crap in Euro 2004, then adding more teams down the road can only serve to make the tournament more exciting.
– USE YOUR BALLS ON AND OFF THE PITCH– Argentina manager Diego Maradona will allow his players to have sex at the World Cup, but cigar smoking and champagne are strictly off limits. I’ve got no complaints with this whatsoever. To Martin Palermo, Messi, Demichelis, Tevez, and the rest of the lot, try and stay focused. You still have games to play.
– BEST WORLD CUP GOALS OF 2006
– THIS IS PERHAPS WORSE THAN MISSING A DUNK
– TALLEST MEN IN FOOTBALL: With Birmingham City’s recent purchase of Nikola Zigic from Valencia for £6m, the Serbian center forward becomes the tallest player in the English Premiere League at 6’8. Here’s a look at some other goons whose childhood dreams of being the next Andre the Giant took a different course:
Kristof Van Hout – 6’10: His attempts to be Ivan Drago were shot down
Peter Crouch – 6’7: He may give Gumby a run for his money, but this lankster with 95 career goals on the club level (not to mention 21 in 38 appearances for England) rank him as the best of the best of the giants. Um, his fiance ain’t too bad either…
Jan Koller – 6’7: This monster’s size often works against him. Jump to the video.
Zeljko Kalac – 6’7: Greetings from down under.