Viva la futbol!

Chris McCormack won 2010’s version of the Hawaiian Ironman, my #1 stop on my ‘Sporting Bucket List’ (Photo courtesy of:

(photo courtesy of Man. U's Wayne Rooney looks to take his team to the top of the Barclays Premier League Standings by the end of the season.

Last week, the January Transfer window closed to much fanfare and surprise.  In the wake of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Rules, an agreement between all the clubs that vie for the Champions League every year, the exorbitant spending and ridiculous contracts will be curbed.  The balance of power will shift from teams that are so far in debt that they’ve bought championships to the teams that are on the brink and just can’t pass the Manchester Uniteds of the leagues. 

Regardless, the Barclays Premier League promises to have a great finale.  Manchester United, the New York Yankees of English soccer, has just one loss with fourteen match days left.  Even now, Wayne Rooney is finally breaking out of his slump, but this did not help them against Wolverhampton.  Drawing comparisons to the most famous undefeated team, 2003-2004’s “Invincibles” from Arsenal, they have the starpower and ability to close a game out.

Meanwhile, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Chelsea all have viable chances to catch the world’s most famous team.  The Gunners have gotten hot as of late, and Manchester City has been floating near the top all season.  With the acquisition of Edin Dzeko in the middle of the transfer period, City now has Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, and Dzeko up top for goals, but this fell short in their game against Birmingham.  The recent performance against West Brom might signal a change of pace.

Chelsea declared themselves financially in line with the new policy, only to purchase Fernando Torres from Liverpool and David Luiz from Portugal’s Benfica for 75 Million Pounds.  The acquisition will give them the chance to move from barely qualifying for the Europa League to winning the Premier League, but those hopes were dashed (potentially) with the loss against Liverpool.  I think United will probably hold on, but they will have some trouble, as was evident this past weekend against Wolverhampton.  At least my Liverpool’s recently acquired Luis Suarez scored in his debut.

Meanwhile, the Spanish Primera Division, or La Liga, is a two horse race.  Actually, it’s a runaway win for Barcelona.  The best team in the world (in my humble opinion) is not going to be stopped.  The toughest game left is against Real Madrid, but since El Classico’s last outing was a 5-0 blowout for Lionel Messi and company, an out-of-form and lower class Real Madrid will need a lot more than just Adebayor being signed to fight back.  This is on the heels of a 1-1 draw with last-place Almeria and a 1-0 loss to Osasuna, but then, a 4-1 win over Sociedad.  Even now, Villareal gets closer and closer, as Striker Giuseppe Rossi stays in-form and continues to perform well.  Barcelona will win the league with games in hand this season. 

In other news, there are a few Americans who are making big moves.  Michael Bradley, the midfielder most famous for his stunning goal against Slovenia in the big American “draw” due to that crappy Mali referee, has left the German Bundesliga and has headed to Aston Villa in a chance to showcase his talents in the Barclays Premier League.  He is one of the futures of American soccer, just like Jozy Altidore.  Villareal has loaned Jozy over the past few seasons, some with success.  Now, he heads to Bursaspor in the Turkish Premier League with a chance to shine in a market that Americans have not traditionally done so.  This young striker needs to develop if he wants to maintain a spot on the American national team, especially with rising stars like Teal Bunbury (who recently changed from Canada to the United States).  Finally, Charlie Davies has finally recovered and is now headed to MLS’ DC United.  That’s great news.