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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sport Sunday: El Clásico, Aussie Rules, and Ice Skating in 日本国

The sporting world is entranced by a semi annual meeting this evening of two great teams in a truly great rivalry.  The games is called "El Clásico" and it is the grudge match between the Real Madrid and the Barcelona Football Clubs.   
These two teams are judged the two wealthiest in the world, are perennial winners, and have the top talent to prove it.  In Spain there is also the rivalry between the Catalonians and everyone else, but among  everyone else, a large percentage are Barҫa fans.  What European doesn't hate his capital city?  Both clubs were founded within a few years of each other, Barcelona at the end of the 1800s, Real Madrid in 1902. The Madrid Football Club, referred to with affection as "Los Vikingos," was changed forever in 1920, when King Alphonse XIII bestowed their royal status, giving them rights also to use of the crown in their coat of arms. Even their earliest meetings were the stuff of legend, but  in early decades only the meetings of the two teams in the Copa del Rey (King's Cup) or the Copa del Caudillo was known as "El Clásico."  In recent decades, given the fantastic competition always served up for these events, every meeting between the two is known as "El Clásico."  Over the years, the overall record is 81 victories for Real Madrid, 76 victories for Barcelona, and 39 draws. 

Barcelona has one of the greatest players in the world, Argentinian Lionel Messi, but another great Barҫa player, Neymar, has been suspended for actions reported in this space last week, and Barcelona suffered a crushing defeat a few days ago in Champions League competition.  On the side of the Vikings, Cristiano Ronaldo is...  well....   Cristiano Ronaldo...  He is the Portuguese player who more than any other player in the world perhaps, is the player all metrosexual men want to be, kind of like David Beckham without all those annoying tattoos and personal drama.  Madrid fans had their hopes strengthened the other day by the news that Welshman Gareth Bale, a Gronkowski to Ronaldo's Brady (without the personal drama, of course), has come off of injured reserved and practiced with the team the last few days.  Predictions?  Only that there will be some great football this evening in the Iberian Peninsula. 

Another type of Football is being contested this weekend in the land down under.  This is the fifth round of competition in the Australian Football League season, and perpetual giants St. Kilda and Geelong will do battle today.  St. Kilda has their season back on track, having evened their record at  2-2 without having played their best football. They come into this game on the back of two relatively scrappy wins against the Brisbane Lions and Collingwood and will likely need to be cleaner with the ball against the Geelong Cats to cause an upset. The speed the Saints are
known for plays well under the roof at Etihad Stadium and will cause concerns for the Cats, who are undefeated after the first four games of the season.  It should be a classic battle.  At the storied Melbourne Cricket Grounds, the Hawthorn Hawks host the West Coast Eagles.  The winless Hawks are so bereft of form and confidence it is impossible to see them turning things around in a week, even though the Eagles are always a shaky proposition at the MCG where they have lost four of their last five matches.

2017 ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating action wraps up today in Tokyo, Japan. Participating countries were able to send two men's singles, one pair, and one ice dancing entry.  After initial rounds Japan and Russia are tied for top spot with 44 points apiece, the U.S. is third at 43, China is fourth at 32 and Canada follows at 31.  The U.S. team of singles skaters, pairs teams and ice dance couples includes current and past national champions Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner, Jason Brown, Karen Chen and Madison Chock and Evan Bates.  The international headliners are world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva (Russia), every 2017 World men’s medalist (Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno of Japan and Jin Boyang of China) and three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada. In World Team Trophy competition, the six nations accumulate points for both short program and free skate scores in each discipline, similar to the Olympic team event that debuted in Sochi.  Each nation enters two singles skaters, one pairs team and one dance couple with a maximum of 12 points available for first place per discipline in each program.  World Team Trophy is the last event of the figure skating season.

In England:  in Association Football, a Manchester City team which is on fire meets a lackluster Arsenal, who is the farthest down in the standings they have been for many years.  The teams drew 2-2 earlier this month, but City
should have won then, and they might just get the job done this time.  Manchester United and Burnley will meet this afternoon, and Man U has a real chance to do well.  Last week’s impressive win over Chelsea has opened the door for United to have a real tilt at getting in the top four, and it is hard to see them slipping up at Burnley.  Evenly matched teams Liverpool and Crystal Palace will finish the day in a contest which may be evenly matched.  Liverpool may have won their past two games, but they did not convince against either Stoke City and West.  Crystal Palace has won five of their past seven games, and may very well win tonight. 


Xersex said...

love Cristiano Ronaldo!

Rex said...

Yes. He is awesome!