April 27, 2011

Football (soccer) Fans. Help?

I've been trying to follow football for a few years now. I've thoroughly enjoyed the last few World Cups. I really enjoy watching the sport and I've even got the rules mostly down now. The problem I have is following league play. It is so confusing for someone new to the sport. The NBA, MLB and NFL here in the states are all fairly easy to understand once you know the rules of the game. There are playoffs, they all play each other, the winner is declared the champion and you wait for next season. I get that, I've followed it all of my life, it is very intuitive to me.

The trouble I'm having with football is that there are a ton of leagues. The English have the Premier League, Spain has La Liga, and so forth. If it was just that each country had its own league I wouldn't be confused. Where I get lost is that there is also the Champions League which, from my understanding, the best teams from all of the major leagues participate in and declares a sort of champion of champions in Europe. It seems like this must be the big prize but I really have no idea.

What is considered a bigger achievement? Winning the Champions League? Or say, winning the Premier League? Having not grown up around it, any help understanding what is most important to football fans would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and I'm going with Barcelona to win the whole thing. Manchester United and Real Madrid just seem too much like the Yankees of their respective leagues to me so I can't root for them.


  1. I would say winning the Champions League is more prestigious. If you win the Premier League you can say you`re the best team in England, or if you win La Liga you are the best team in Spain, etc, but if you win the Champions League you have basically tested yourself against the best clubs in Europe and come out on top. The best of the best!

    I think each competition has different types and levels of prestige. As well as the domestic leagues (like the Premier League) and the `Champions League` there are also domestic cups (such as the FA Cup in England and the King`s Cup in Spain) that are knock-out tournaments played throughout the year, culminating in the final around April-May. These have their own romance attached to them, as any team in the country (be they professional, amateur, pub-league, whatever) can enter and theoretically has a chance of winning.

    It`s a lot to take in at once, but a while you just start to instinctively know these things. Like all sports, it`s deceptively simple (I feel overwhelmed following two long months of hockey finals for the first time here in Canada). You get used to it all in time.

    I agree Barcelona should win, they are the best `team`in the world. While the others have many great individual players, no one plays as beautifully as Barca. Plus Madrid knocked my own team out in the last round, so I want to see them crushed. (There are also 100+ years of rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid based on social and political grudges and differences going back to the time of Franco and the civil war, but I won`t go into them here ;).

    All in all, it will be a great game. Of course, i don`t get the sports channels at my house, so i`ll miss it!

  2. Yeah the CL is kind of a bigger deal. that being said though, it's a tournament and not necessarily indicative of what team is best in their own league. my team is Liverpool and in 2005 they won the CL in an AMAZING game. that year however, they placed 6th in the prem and were not guaanteed a spot in the next year's tournament. UEFA changed their rules to automatically include the tournament champion the next year if they made it past a few qualifiers. Liverpool hasn't won the prem since its inception. We're still waiting.

    I effing HATE man u also!

    Go Barca!

  3. I was in Barcelona in '05 when they won the national championship. One of the most amazing cultural celebration experiences I've ever had. Barca!

  4. yawn. i went to my first MLS game, my team won 4-2, and find it to be a total drag. best part of football is watching the hotties play it on the field at my work on lunchtime, and when the aforementioned team used to practice onsite as well. sigh. give me baseball any day.


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