PUN-ting ahead 09 (22-25/FEB/13) – “OSCAR” Edition

The nominees for the Best Player In a Simulated Fall are….. Ashley Young, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Santi Carzola & Neymar!  And the winner is………………….. who really cares!?!  They probably wouldn’t have been available to pick up their award anyway owing to their protestations over being unfairly nominated by the referees’ panel, who don’t give them enough protection.  I doubt that any one of those players would gladly accept that award if it was being offered for real.  Can you really see any one of them sitting in a room full of their peers, as straight-faced as they can be (in an attempt to mask the obvious anxiety they would be feeling) as the camera zooms into sharp focus on each nominee as their names are announced?  What chance is there that as the “winner” is announced, the runners-up would offer their obligatory mild applause, coupled with the simulated smile (only because those cameras would still be on them, and possibly now capturing every jealous twitch in SUP-Ah!?! Slowmo detail)?  Is it not more plausible to imagine that they would all charge the stage and surround the event’s coordinating official (aka Show Host(ess))and vehemently plead their case that the officials had once again gotten it wrong?  Probably not.  As much as I appreciate the great desire to win at all costs that most athletes have, I am more convinced that had my little imagined scenario been for real, this would have been one accolade to be shied away from.  Proving that, much to the contrary of public sentiment, winning isn’t always everything.  BUT you’ve got to admit though that it would have been rather cool to see the “winner” gushing in their acceptance speech…..“…..you love me, you really, really love me…??!??”  Okay enough of this make-believe nonsense.  While the movie industry will, this weekend, indeed be rewarding those who make a living form simulation, we will try not to be caught up in the red carpet frenzy and focus our attentions on entertainers who keep it real…… well most of the time anyway.

FOOTY

LEAGUE CUP:-

  Bradford City -v- Swansea City  

By the time The Oscar for Best Picture is announced, copious amounts of champagne will already have been uncorked and gulped down by the fans of the recently crowned Capital One Cup Champions!  I will issue my cliché disclaimer here BUT hey, Hollywood itself could not have scripted this final, particularly the respective journeys that either team has travelled to get to Wembley.  If they had scripted it, then there would still have been much debate about how to classify them because as it all unfolded there was a bit of everything.

  • Thriller (Chelsea’s last gasp equaliser to make it 4-ALL led to an eventual 5-4 WIN over Manchester United),
  • Epic (Coming back from 4-NIL down The Arsenal produced a masterclass to eventually overcome Reading 7-5!), I guess that fully covers Drama,
  • Horror & Comedy (Witnessing The Arsenal’s 3-2 penalty demise to Bradford City provided a few laughs for some, while maintaining the trophy drought panic for others),
  • Fantasy (After taking out 2 Premiership teams in Wigan & The Arsenal, Bradford City’s improbable march to Wembley passed through another Premiership team, and while the last minutes of their 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa may have felt like a dream,  the real fantasy element had been set in motion in their 3-1 semi final 1st leg win)
  • & FINALly ROMANCE! (2 of the most improbable FINAL contenders.  It’s like The Cinderella Man -v- Forrest Gump. The Karate Kid meets an aging Rocky!  It’s usually more gratifying to root for the underdog BUT when 2 are pitted against each other the fact that there can only be one winner means that your emotions are likely to be shredded by the time the closing credits roll up.  The triumph will be tinged with pain as the victors yell Show-me-the-moooneeey!!! while the vanquished try to console themselves like a Million Dollar Baby!

The Bantams of Bradford are seeking a second major trophy in their 110 year existence.  101 years ago they were crowned as FA Cup champions.  A year later Swansea City AFC was founded and it has taken a century of years for them to get this close to breaking their trophy duck.  History would appear to point to a better cup pedigree for Bradford City BUT in the here and now it’s The Swans that hold the upper hand mainly due to their Premier League status which compares favourably with their opponents’ League Two positioning, three divisions lower.  So by league positions alone this should be a done deal for the Welsh Swans.  BUT their fellow EPL counterparts will quickly remind them that The Bantams are more than capable of unleashing a Hurt Locker full of pain!  So which team will ride off into the sunset with a gleaming trophy?  Maybe the following details will shed some light.

PUN-dit Pointers

  • The Bantams are the second side from the fourth tier of English football to reach the League Cup final.
  • Victory would see Bradford become the sixth club from outside the top flight to win the competition, following in the footsteps of Norwich (second tier, 1962), QPR (third tier, 1967), Swindon (third tier, 1969), Aston Villa (second tier, 1975) and Sheffield Wednesday (second tier, 1991).
  •  Bradford City have won nine consecutive penalty shootouts – an English record!!!
  • The Swans have reached the final of the League Cup for the first time in their history. Prior to this season they had never gone beyond the fourth round of the competition.
  • Swansea’s most recent defeat against League Two opposition was a 3-1 loss to Shrewsbury in the second round of the League Cup last season.

NB* most stats as per www.bbc.co.uk/sport

Ok, so this encounter does not have the star-studded cast that is associated with most Cup Finals… BUT the mere fact that it is Europe’s 1st “major” domestic Cup Final of the season qualifies it to walk down the red carpet.  Whoever wins this will not only add to a trophy cabinet that, for a century, has been as bare as Old-Mother-Hubbard’s Cupboard.  It will guarantee participation in European football next season….  BUT probably the most important reason to fuss about this tie is that for the victors this could be an event that marks an entire generation!

So my Spoiler Alert PUNt is that the winner of the Capital One Cup Lifetime Achievement Award is ……………………………….. SWANSEA TOWN A.F.C!!

SHORT-FILM (aka QUICK-PUNts)

  1.  Manchester City -v- Chelsea (EPL):- It is a long accepted notion that you do not win anything (except for the League Cup) in March, BUT you can indeed lose the League in March!  Thanks to Manchester United’s 2-NIL WIN away to QPR their Noisy/Oily Neighbours now find themselves with a Super-15 point deficit to make up.  A loss to Gaffer Rafa’s Chelsea will not only cement that deficit, it will also strengthen Chelsea’s claim for 2nd which they would now be within a mere point of.  There is no prize for guessing that both teams would rather be playing a leading role by challenging Manchester United in the front row of the EPL title battle, BUT for now securing 2nd spot appears to be a more realistic target.                                Spoiler Alert PUNt = The winner of the Best Performance In a SUPPORTING Role, (by those who wish they were leading) is …………………………………… MANCHESTER CITEH!!!
  2. F.C. Internazionale -v- A.C. Milan (Serie A):- Look past the fact that again neither team is in contention for the scudetto.  Whatever the result from this match, table-topping Juventus will not lose any sleep.  BUT if The Oscars can go gaga over the mere mention of Italian designer names then surely we too can go gaga over one of European football’s historically glamour ties.  It’s Milan after all, and aren’t we the least bit curious to see how A.C. Milan will fare after that shock victory over Barcelona, especially seeing as Inter have won their last 3 matches against AC Milan in all competitions!?  Will the fans of the Nerazzuri roll out the red carpet for a SuperMario Balotelli who returns as the enemy, or will they replace team chants with more unacceptable racist chants!?!  And if the latter transpires will Mario and Kevin Prince Boateng lead an anti-racism walk-off revolution?!?                                                                                                                                      Spoiler Alert PUNt =  And the award for Best Foreign Language Drama  goes to the victors of the Derby della Madonnina who are……………………………….. A.C. MILAN!!
  3. Paris Saint Germain -v- Olympique de Marseille (Ligue 1):-  Wannabe fashionistas will be strutting their stuff on the Hollywood Red carpet this Sunday…BUT those in the know will tell you that all that glitz and glam pales in comparison to what Paris doles out on its catwalks regularly.  Enter Le Classique  pitting 1st placed Paris Saint-Germain and 3rd ranked Olympique de Marseille in a tie that will have an impact on the Ligue 1 table top.  That alone makes this match a mega attraction, and Sunday’s match is sold out.  While the PSG cash revolution is still stuttering, French media reports that 350 journalists across the globe have been accredited for the clash confirm this as a glamour event.  Okay, so maybe half of those accredited journos will be more interested in David Beckham’s presence than the actual footy.  BUT just like The Oscars, sometimes it’s the stars that make the event, rather than the event making the stars.  Problem with that approach though, is that if the stars don’t come out to play it will leave fans feeling like Les Miserables!  Beckham’s footy impact in Paris is yet to be felt BUT, according to Zlatan, at least his arrival makes PSG “more good-looking”                                                                                                 Spoiler Alert PUNt = The award for Best Hair & Make-up  goes to ………………. PARIS SAINT-GERMAN!!

  NB** stats as per www.goal.com and www.whoscored.com

There you have it, 4 whole counter attractions to the Golden Statuette handing out ceremony.  They say Lights, Camera, Action, and the sporting world re-interprets that as Flood-Lights, High-Speed Cameras & Action Replays!  Let’s get these shows on the road!  And to those who thought that this “OSCAR Edition” blog-post was in reference to The Blade Runner let’s wait for the autobiographical movie on Mr Pistorius, BUT until then …….PardonthePUN-dit!

Be blessed …. and ….Be Great!

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