By Connor Buestad
If ever there was a time to take a minute and pay attention to professional soccer, Wednesday’s Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United would surely qualify. I realize everyone has their priorities, i.e. school, work, watching the ’09 Spelling Bee; but at least for one day, please try to fit in some soccer watching for a change.
Chances are you were a stud on your youth soccer team at some point, and it is a good bet you have some sort of foreign soccer jersey in your closet somewhere (or maybe that’s just me). Maybe you’ve heard of some guy named Pele and you enjoyed watching Brandi Chastain whirl her shirt over her head at the Rose Bowl that one summer. Whatever the case may be, everyone can relate to having an inner soccer fan.
The Champions League is an annual soccer tournament first held in 1955. Basically, it decides who is the best soccer club in all of Europe. This tournament turns out to be a very big deal. This year’s Champions League final will be an even greater spectacle than anticipated as it pits two of the most storied soccer clubs of all time against each other. Manchester United is arguably the most famous sports franchise in the world, surpassing even the fame and fortune of the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys. Man U has won the Champions League three times including last year’s victory. Meanwhile, Barcelona has won the tournament twice and is arguably the most famous soccer club in Spain.
Soccer is known throughout the world as “the beautiful game”. No two players in the game today exhibit this beauty like Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Man U’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Last year, Ronaldo was voted the World Player of the Year by FIFA, while Messi was second in the voting. The two players own contrasting styles. Ronaldo is relatively tall, with tremendous athletic ability and a devastating right foot. Messi, on the other hand, is small in stature but large in ball handling skills. He comes as close to playing with the ball on a string as humanly possible. At just 21 years of age he is already being described as the second coming of Diego Maradona, Argentina’s most famous soccer player and fellow countryman.
Tomorrow’s game will be played in a 75,000 seat stadium in Rome. Tickets on the street are reportedly going for no less than 3 grand. If by chance you are working in San Francisco tomorrow, get lost on your lunch break and wander into pub. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.