tomorrow it begins
wwc day two: why wait

barcelona, canada, and a horse

Today was a reminder that one can't always compare two brands of soccer as if they were identical. The day began with the UEFA Champions League final between Barcelona and Juventus, then continued with the opening match of the 2015 Women's World Cup, between host Canada and China. The first match was better than the second, and no, I'm not saying that the women's game is "worse". But I once again noted that, all else being equal, club soccer is "better" than national-team soccer. Some of this is because clubs work together all year long, while national teams spend much less time as a group. But ... and I can't find where I read this first, but it certainly didn't begin with any insights of my own ... club teams are better because if your club has an area that needs improvement, you can fill that need from anywhere in the world, depending of course on how much money you have. (Money is not a problem for Barcelona ... they can go after any player they want.) But if your national team has an area that needs improvement, your pool of players to fill that need is restricted to people from your country. (OK, everyone manages to fudge this a little, but the basic concept is there.) So Barcelona increased their firepower this season by signing Uruguayan star Luis Suárez to play alongside Argentine Leo Messi and Brazilian Neymar. Meanwhile, Canada's women's national team increased their firepower by ... well, to be honest, I don't know enough about their national team to know what they needed or how they filled it. But one thing they didn't do is go to South America to get better players.

OK, Barcelona and Juventus have better players than Canada and China. The latter were playing in a World Cup, which certainly ups the ante, but the former were playing in the biggest club tournament in the world. So when I say I preferred the Champions League match to the World Cup match, that's mostly what I mean: Barcelona, as a team, are more fun to watch than just about anyone this side of the Golden State Warriors.

I predicted Barca would win, 3-1, and they did, although it would have been 4-1 if the referees hadn't screwed up. Juventus played hard, and the contrast in styles between the two teams was interesting, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't prefer how Barcelona plays.

As for Canada and China, I think a flaw in the "16 teams out of 24 advance" system was on display, although I could be wrong. At one point when it was still 0-0 (as it was for 90 minutes), one of the announcers pointed out that China didn't need to win. This meant the match was like Barcelona-Juventus if the Italians had bunkered down, which they did not. Canada couldn't break down China's park-the-bus mentality, and the "contrast in styles" mostly lacked for aesthetic interest. The U.S. announcers were fine, but they had what I thought was an odd focus on the Canadians. It wasn't like when the U.S. plays and the announcers become homers, and it's not like the Chinese invited much in the way of complex analysis. But the entire match was presented as "what will Canada do to win this game?"

A friend wondered why I wasn't listening to the Spanish announcers, which was a good question, so I switched over to Telemundo, which meant I got to hear Andres Cantor give his first GOOOOL call of the tournament.

Meanwhile, at halftime of Canada-China, I switched channels to watch American Pharoah win the Triple Crown. After all of the day's action, I still had Telemundo on the screen, and at one point, I looked up to see a news bulletin that (I think) said "Mexican Jockey Rides Triple Crown Winner". Everyone has their priorities.

Finally, New Zealand and the Netherlands finish off today's World Cup action, but I don't get the channel on which it is being shown, and I'm a bit too fried to hunt down a stream. So I'll watch Orphan Black.