Bayern Munich will enjoy home advantage when they play Chelsea in the European Champions League final after defeating Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu following Wednesday's dramatic penalty shootout.
They say the Ballon d'Or is democratic but it's not. Not really. A proper democratic vote surely relies on a universal, secret ballot. By contrast, one of the things that makes the Ballon d'Or vote so interesting to pick over is the fact that you can pick over it. The real fun comes after Messi and Xavi have stepped down from the podium and the list of voters and votes is handed out.
It sounds like a simple assignment: acting as general manager, assemble a soccer team featuring the best player in the world at each of the 11 positions. But as anyone who follows the sport knows, choosing that team is a complicated exercise. You want to reward the most talented individuals, of course, but you also want a coherent team. What's more, the result represents a sort of personal mission statement. How do I want to see soccer played? Is it possible in the 21st century to combine great aesthetics with winning fútbol?
Pep Guardiola said it; everyone else just thought it. On the eve of the final chapter in the four-game, 18-day clásico saga, one comment hit home more than any other. "It is," Guardiola said, "nearly over." A kind of tired, collective sigh of relief escaped. Had it not been for the fact that no one had the energy or enthusiasm, you might have expected the place to turn into an evangelical church, shouts of Amen! and Hallelujah! ringing round. One more night and we're free. They were wrong -- the fallout is nuclear, its devastating effects set to linger -- but the promise of liberation hung in the air.
MADRID -- In the immediate aftermath of a tense and often fractious clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga on April 16, something terrible happened. It was just before midnight and the final whistle, barely audible over a deafening din, had been blown. Down in the tunnel, away from watchful eyes, beyond the public gaze, a Barcelona player and a Real Madrid player turned and began to head straight for each other. Face to face they came. And then ...
The Príncipe de Asturias awards are Spain's equivalent of the Nobel Prizes, the most prestigious of decorations. Held every year in the Campoamor theater in Oviedo, designated by a 'jury' and handed out by the Prince of Asturias, heir to the Spanish crown, they reward excellence in a number of fields -- from international cooperation (in other words, peace), to science and arts. At every event not only does Prince Felipe attend, so too does Queen Sofia.
Todos los jugadores profesionales, salvo los porteros, marcan un gran gol a lo largo de sus carreras. Los grandes delanteros, si tienen suerte, marcarán un gol que pase a la historia. La diferencia entre Leo Messi y los demás es que tiene toda su carrera por delante, pero ya ha marcado tres en 2007 que perdurarán como obras de arte y serán admirados en los museos del fútbol, como hoy admiramos a Leonardo da Vinci, de aquí a quinientos años.