Checkpoint: Top of the Game Edition

The UEFA Champions League final between Juventus and FC Barcelona was a great one. I was predicting a Barcelona win but I didn’t know if Juventus were going to make a match out of it. Were Barcelona’s front three going to run circles around Juventus’ defense? Would Juventus’ midfield maintain order? Thankfully Juve stepped up and made a game of it; even going down 1-0 early on didn’t dampen their spirits. It was a very enjoyable final and more so because I’m actually familiar with the teams. I actually accidentally stumbled across the Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich a couple years ago. I watched it but didn’t have any vested interest in the sport at the time.

An hour after the Champions League final, the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off in Edmonton and I watched Canada take on China. It was an awful game. Both teams were making mistakes left and right, the Chinese were parking their defense and Canada had no answer. The only way Canada eked out a win was when China’s defense gifted them that silly foul in the penalty box.

I never watched the women’s game before. I’ve watched men’s lower division play in the form of NASL and MLS which was different compared to the top european leagues but the game remained intact. I didn’t expect a quick pace or a lot of physicality between players but I was expecting crisp decisive passes. The Canada vs China game showed glimpses high level play but it didn’t fill me with the desire to watch more. When the most confident looking players on the field were the goal keepers, it doesn’t make for attractive game.

Despite the terrible match, I didn’t give up on it on the Women’s World Cup and decided to watch the Netherlands take on New Zealand. That was a solid match which showcased what I was expecting. By default, I should be rooting for Canada but I think I’m going to back the Orange Lionesses.

I’m looking forward to seeing the top ranked German squad in action later today. They’re pitted against the lowest ranked team in the competition this year, the Ivory Coast. So this should be something.

I’m still playing The Witcher 3 and FIFA 15. I don’t see that changing next week.

Checkpoint: EPL 2014 Kickoff Edition

Checkpoint - EPL 2014 Kickoff Edition

Well this is unexpected isn’t? This year has been full of unexpected things for me. Six months ago, if you asked me if I would be spending time watching pre-season soccer matches or English Premier League kickoff, I would have laughed at you.

The World Cup changed my perception of soccer and the FIFA 14 demo cemented my interest in it. I then sought out other competitions like Bayern Munich vs MLS All Stars. Then I spent some “Rogers Rewards points” on GOLTV to catch the DFL Super Cup last week and the Spanish Super Cup next week. And this weekend, I’m watching a few English Premier League season openers.

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Checkpoint: World Cup 2014 Edition

Checkpoint - World Cup 2014 Edition

By all accounts, you can mark World Cup 2014 as my first. I knew Spain won the last World Cup. I recognized David Silva and David Villa for the way their names were pronounced and not their soccer skills.

But things are different in 2014.

I developed a genuine interest for “the beautiful game”. I recognize more players, delved into their club histories and watched more soccer in the past month than I have in my entire life. I am rooting for teams, players and most importantly: entertaining story lines.

This BBC Sport article detailing some of the most memorable moments of the tournament is a great summation of the tournament thus far. And with final game to be played, who knows what historic moment we have yet to witness.

What I enjoyed most about this World Cup is the common ground I and many others in the world share. I enjoy American Football but its appeal is very limited on an international level. Basketball is more global but it pales to the global appeal of soccer. Seeing reactions from European, South American and even Chinese observers is fascinating. Soccer may be the only sport my girlfriend and I will ever talk about.

It’s that kind of appeal that made me realize that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I had to give it a chance. I wanted to be able to sit down at 3:00 PM ET today and appreciateĀ the world’s finest soccer players duel it out for world supremacy. It’s why I tried to watch all these games and learn as much as possible because it’s investments like this that makes it more than just 22 players kicking a ball around.

It’s still Battlefield 4 and Peace Walker with a dash of Layton on the side. With the Destiny beta looming, I don’t know if I’ll finish Peace Walker by the end of the month.