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2018 World Cup Soccer Under Way!

2018 World Cup Soccer Under Way!

With the 2018 World Cup of soccer just under way in Germany, tensions appear to be high among most Countires as it seems that the teams are doing thier usual struggling to get their games together.

Who knows if Italy’s play will effected by the recent scandel over match fixing. Perhaps it will help Italy to focus on thier play on the field during this World Cup, and maybe we can see Luca Toni bang in a whack of goals.

It will be even more interesting to see what kind of team shows up for England with the current ‘disaster of the week’ going on. Will Rooney make a contribution, and what kind of offence will they field on the shoulders of Owen and Crouch?

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The US team is even more of a wonder. As in why are they ranked 5th? Assuming there is a push to build more interest in the National team in the US, (where there has never been more than a modest following), a ranking of 5th could end up hurting the US National team more than anything else. Even though the US is fielding a decent team this year, the high ranking is a joke and when the US is sent packing early it could reduce interest in the game in the US.

The tension hasn’t been avoided for the powerhouse Brazilian team either with Edmilson out with a knee injury. Although it is unlikely that a team this strong will not make it through to the final four even with injuries.

Spain seems as strong as ever being able to draw from one of the best leagues on the planet, but will they be able to field a team that can put it together in the World Cup. We’ve seen many strong teams from Spain in past World Cups that drop out early, so we’ll wait and see.

Even with all of the usual drama aroung the 2018 World Cup of soccer, it is more than exciting to be around this great sporting event. The next month will prove to be as great of a World Cup as ever.

Is Joey Barton a Changed Man?

When I started following English football in earnest a few years ago, it opened up a whole new world of teams, history, events and the cast of characters that made up them. Coming from the U.S., I found it fascinating to not only experience a wholly unique sport, but to learn about a brand new set of athletes and how they were viewed and were covered by the media and the general public.

When I got to Joey Barton, the story itself was long, controversial, violent and of course, fascinating. Barton’s story is like many an athlete’s (no matter what sport or country), but with enough disturbing differences to make it intriguing.

Everyone who’s followed English football longer than I have knows the story of Joey Barton so I’ll just give you the crib notes because we have more ground to cover. He grew up in a working class home, not the best of familial influences, convicted twice for charges of violence, attacked teammates, fans and the like, served 77 days in prison… you’ve all heard it before.

But the question i’m asking everyone is; has Joey Barton grown up?

This piece isn’t meant to defend the man, nor is it to condemn him. I can’t sit here and claim to know as much as others about both Barton and the game itself. It’s a simple query about a guy who created and experienced a lot of negative things and the possibility of him moving on past that. More importantly if he has grown up, will the public and media agree?

The last bits of news concerning Barton has been the opposite of negative. He met Morrissey, got himself quite the hipster haircut (that mirrors Morrissey), has a fairly interesting Twitter feed and is rumored to attract interest from Manchester United (though he has since declared he’s sticking with Newcastle, at least until his contract ends at the end of this season). He’s done a few interviews in which he speaks of his changed outlook,(“All the other problems I have had in my career, I was responsible for them. If I went to jail, that was my own fault.”) and his time in Newcastle has been mostly a positive one, leading the club from relegation to promotion and appearing as somewhat of a leader within the group. He’s never going to be the shiny example of a morally sound football player, but it seems that not too many guys are anymore. He’s also not necessarily apologetic about some aspects of his past (the interview I got the previous quotes from had him also calling Ousmane Dabo a “pu**y”).

Again, this is more of a general interest than a defense. I’m just going on what i’ve seen in my many years of following sports and moreso watching how the public and media interacts with their players, especially players that have a less than stellar past. I’ve been a big fan of the NBA over the years and have seen a lot of interesting aspects as to how a player can come from a rough upbringing, get involved in a few very damaging situations, get vilified and painted by the media and then turn it all around when their actions speak instead of their words. Sometimes that takes years, sometimes it never ever happens and sometimes the players self destruct while waiting for it all to shake out. Who knows what the future holds for Barton, but if he ends up being a “changed man” will anyone accept it?