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Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 02:29 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

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While Part Two of "Logic" is in the making, here's a recount of the past few days. Ate some bazhang, Owed myself a few dozen chinups (I didn't know I would walk into my room that much), and watched the simultaneous La Liga title deciders at 3 a.m. on Monday.

Real Madrid only had to win against Mallorca to wrap up the championship, while Barca travelled to cellar team Gimnastic de Tarragona needing Madrid not to win to have a chance. FC Sevilla had a dim hope, but were dependant on both frontrunners failing to win.

Gimnastic vs Barca on Channel 21, Madrid vs Mallorca on Channel 22, a cousin to watch it with, McDonalds home delivery (a first!), what more could I ask for? An answer to how home delivery is profitable for the establishment, maybe. Supposedly pizza guys in the USA use their own vehicles, and get a small margin for fuel; Assume the whole delivery charge (~$2) goes towards the delivery guy's wages, and a typical delivery guy makes an average of 20 deliveries a day, 20 days a month - $800, which sounds about right, perhaps on the low end. Wonder how efficient their bikes are...

I'm mostly neutral on the merits of Real Madrid vs Barca, if slightly biased towards the latter due to their reputation for attractive football. Madrid however would have to stump up a couple of million Euros to Man Utd if they won the title, due to some nifty clauses in their ex-United duo's (Beckham & Ruud) contracts. My cousin, also a United fan, supported Madrid for the night for this reason, and just to be contrary I rooted for Barca.

At this point I may digress on how I choose a sportsman or team to get behind when encountering them on TV, for it just isn't fun to plonk oneself in front of a titanic struggle as an uninvolved spectator. For duels, generally the underdog gets my vote, with Jordan and Schumacher being notable exceptions; For teams, I'm partial to those wearing some green (hence the soft spot for the Celtics, both the Boston and Scots soccer incarnations), or first impressions, thus egging Juve on in the absence of other considerations. If there's nothing between them, I'll just support the currently attacking team. But if you're after an EPL team to support permanently, just pick United here's an impartial guide.

Back to the matches - Mallorca and Barca went 1-0 up, and it looked as if United would be out of some moolah. There was some pre-game debate on ethics when Messi (of Barca) mentioned that his club should really offer cash incentives for the Mallorca players to win, given that they didn't have much other than pride to play for. Of course, they're supposed to try to win anyway, so is a third party encouraging them to do that morally right? A rejoinder was that if teams were to get used to being paid extra to win, what would stop them from accepting commissions to lose in future? Sometimes football's a dirty game...

Barca continued slaughtering hapless Gimnastic, quickly piling up three goals, though in fairness Gimnastic had their moments. They aren't bad per se, just not quite in Barca's class. The Spanish Primera does appear to lack a certain... shall we say full-bloodedness in their tackling, resulting in a more freely flowing game, though this may just be attributed to the top clubs being on display.

But a hundred goals against Gimnastic meant nothing if Madrid were to win as well, for Madrid had the edge in their head-to-head meetings - so as the Barca game dwindled into insignificance after their fourth goal, it was Madrid on the telly almost all of the time. Beckham, who had earlier hit the angle between bar and post with a looping free-kick from wide of the penalty area, was taken off, and in came Reyes with only about half an hour to go. And who would have bet on the on-loan Arsenal man to sidefoot an equaliser in at the near post so quickly?

A draw wouldn't be enough, though, and Madrid attacked with additional fury. Being at home does have its advantages, among them the speed of the ballboys at supplying a replacement ball after the current ball goes out of play - In one instance, a Mallorca player's shot had barely gone out of play when a second ball was thrown to Casillas to take the goal kick, all in the blink of an eye. Can't say the commentator did much to add to the atmosphere, what with eighty percent of his spiel being enunciating the name of the player who happens to be in possession, with precious little of the banter heard during EPL matches. Different strokes for different cultures.

Well, it ended with a save off a corner kick being blocked into his own net by a blur Mallorca defender standing at the post, and Reyes adding a third to no doubt boost his standing with his prospective new employers; This turn of events transformed the Barca supporters and bench into some of the saddest folks ever to watch their team win by four goals, as seen on the other channel, gave Beckham and Ruud their first silverware with Real, and fattened the United coffers to the tune of a million-odd pounds, which should pay the wages of the newcomers (Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson) for a couple of months. All in all, a good morning on balance, I suppose.

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