Papa’s Newsy Shorts for June 2023
European League play
Our Newsy Shorts roundup another European Soccer Season. And, ho-hum, Barcelona won La Liga, PSG won Ligue 1, Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga, Napoli won Serie A, and Manchester City won the Premiership. Ok, Real and Atletico Madrid imploded in La Liga, PSG won by one point over Lens, Dortmund ceded the Bundesliga to Bayern on goal differential after faltering down the stretch, Napoli had one of the most improbable and exciting seasons in recent memory winning Serie A with weeks to spare, and City won after Arsenal had their best season in ages up until the last six weeks of the competition, and then faltered continuously.
Manchester City soundly defeated Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals to dethrone them and set up a gimme final against Inter Milan, only the Italians nearly won the final match. The English side barely won with a 68th-minute Rodri score. City also won the FA Cup and Premiership to claim a rare treble. Pep Guardiola managed to become, well, a bigger, uber coach, and with their funding City will shuffle a few positions but keep the cream of their crop to fight on.
UEFA Nations League
In the semifinals, Croatia defeated a game Netherlands in Rotterdam 4-2 (a.e.t.) with a scintillating display from Luka Modric and surprising scores from a trio of Croatian strikers. Spain barely beat Italy 2-1 with the winner coming in at the 88th minute from Joselu. In the final, Croatian strikers of all stripes missed golden opportunity after golden opportunity, most of them hard-fought and well-crafted midfield plays that reached their team’s merely mortal players to simply tap in, and they missed. Thus, after a 0-0 score (a.e.t.) came the penalty shootout wherein attacking midfielder Lovro Majer and forward Bruno Petkovic missed their penalties and gifted the undeserving Spaniards the trophy. Thus, Modric is still trophyless in international competitions.
CONCACAF Nations League
In two of the most thrilling and well-played matches of their developing careers, the young USMNT, under interim head coach B.J. Callahan, defeated Mexico 3-0 in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals with two Christian Pulisic tallies and a Ricardo Pepi score. The finals, pitting Canada against the USA, saw Gio Reyna (yeah, he plays for the USMNT) provide two assists, one each to Christopher Richards and Florian Balagun for the win.
CONCACAF Gold Cup
For the Gold Cup, USMNT interim coach, B.J. Callahan will lead a team composed of mostly US-based players as nearly all of the team’s stars will be taking a break after completing their European seasons and winning the CONCACAF Nations League. Wouldn’t it be precious if the USA had a good showing with their second string against the first strings of the tournament’s guest teams and the rest of the confederation? How will USSF square the interim’s replacement by the coach with the lapsed, then renewed, contract?
Articles of Interest
Tim Spires had an interesting review of time wasting in soccer in The Athletic. Tim Murphy’s “Power Ball,” article in Mother Jones (December 2022) covered the influence of oligarchs, private equity, and petrostates over our sport. National Geographic chipped in a piece on the origins of our sport in a piece by Erin Blakemore in their November 2022 issue. The New York Times’ Rory Smith joined BBC’s Guillem Balague in a dual pean of sorts to their beloved Premier League via Manchester City and Pep Guardiola respectively.
Photo: Gio Reyna, Shutterstock ID: 2147480941, by Vitali Vitleo