Rightwing Film Geek

Off to UEFA Cup final

Yeah, yeah … it’s the Huns, playing Zenit St. Petersburg for the UEFA Cup in Manchester shortly (I’m out the door as I finish this).

I can’t bring myself to wear a Rangers shirt to the broadcast of the game (reading this last night can really pound in the ambivalence I’ll always feel). But your country’s clubs are one team in Europe; I have a Protestant father and two Protestant grandparents; and this is one of the biggest games ever played by a Scottish club. I have played over and over this clip, of Rangers’ penalty shootout victory in the semi-finals over Fiorentina …

… and I get goose bumps every time, as the commentator yells “Manchester brace yourself; Rangers are coming. Scotland will have its big night as well. The Scots are heading for Manchester and you know what, Manchester may not be big enough.”

The thing is though, that the Huns have won their way through to the final playing anti-football. I well understand that when it’s your team and your country, only results matter, and I’ll be cheering my head off if they win (good for the coefficient and all). But Rangers are not an attractive team to watch, in Europe anyway. I think they’ll manage it though — Zenit are the kind of attack-first team Rangers are built to frustrate and defeat (though a team that can beat Bayern Munich 4-0 and Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 away needn’t fear anybody).

But history is on the Huns’ side. The other time Rangers won a European trophy (the 1972 Cup Winners Cup), the final victory was over a Russian team. And the victories in the three previous rounds were over teams from Portugal, Italy and Germany (Sporting Lisbon, Torino and Bayern then; Werder Bremen, Sporting and Fiorentina, in order, now).

As long as nobody at the bar sings “The Billy Boys” song, and the victorious Rangers fans don;t get their team banned from Europe as happened last time.

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May 14, 2008 Posted by | Soccer | 3 Comments

What will Ronaldinho haveth wrought

This strike by Barcelona’s Ronaldinho in the Champions League against Werder Bremen last week is the second-cheekiest goal I have ever seen. The Brazilian star hits the shot weakly along the ground, but he timed it perfectly with the Werder Bremen defensive wall jumping, like a Goofy Golf shot so as to roll under the wall right into the goal untouched:

But as I said, it’s only the second-cheekiest goal I’ve ever seen. The one that bests it, also a Brazilian free kick, is here, in this Japanese 1974 World Cup highlight reel. In a quarter-final game between Brazil (yellow) and East Germany (blue), Rivelino fires the ball right at the Commies’ defensive wall, only a couple of Brazilian players are in the middle of the wall and at the exact moment, they duck. Ball goes right into the net.

You’d think East Germany, of all countries, would be more proficient at building a wall than that. But that Rivelino goal resulted (to my memory at least) in a major change in world football. Henceforth attacking players would be kept away from defensive walls on free kicks. Like Dan Marino and his fake “spike the ball” call, it could only be done once. I wonder if either others will try the Ronaldinho trick or whether defenders will henceforth no longer jump in such situations.

December 17, 2006 Posted by | Soccer | Leave a comment

Great Japanese highlights

There’s the lengthy pan inside the hut near the end of UGETSU MONOGATARI.

There’s the long-haired beauty Asami turning toward the camera in the bedroom near the point where AUDITION “breaks.”

There’s the dead-soundtrack assault on the castle in RAN.

There’s the smiling face of Setsuko Hara in TOKYO STORY.

And then there’s this:

… which is not only the most important Celtic goal in years, but also so obviously awesome that it was #1 on the Top 10 plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter early this morning.

But my most important question is — is Nakamura a Catholic Buddhist or a Protestant Buddhist? Good thing Pat Buchanan doesn’t read this sight — he’d see that clip and complain that it proves the Japanese won’t rest until they take away EVERY job that used to belong to the Irish Catholics.

UPDATE: Forgot to explain what makes this goal important. It got a 1-0 victory over Manchester United, which ensured that Celtic advanced into the knockout stage of the Champions League. It’s the “next step” in the return of Celtic (and Scottish soccer generally; Rangers did the same last year) to Europe-wide respect after some pretty lean years in the 90s.

And in the interest of equal time for the Proddy-dogs, I will note that Rangers got a 2-2 draw in France against Auxerre, ensuring that they would advance into the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup.

November 22, 2006 Posted by | Soccer | Leave a comment