The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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A Weekend of Beautiful Music (Over to You, Nick Hornby)

Nick and I have five matches picked out to watch this weekend, and as you know, with Nick, where there’s a list, there’s a playlist. For the record, I wrote a paragraph about Arsenal, but Nick nixed it. Apparently he’s still upset about…something that happened last week? I don’t know. We don’t talk much.



#5 Manchester United – Hull (15:00 GMT, 11am Eastern Time)

One team is a consensus title contender that crushed Arsenal and narrowly lost to an inspired Chelsea at midweek. The other team is Manchester United. Alex Ferguson is singing Hull’s praises in the press, possibly in the same way that Democratic operatives briefly hyped Sarah Palin as a powerhouse debater. Of course Man Utd will win by three goals on the predictable brace from Ronaldo. But if you’re not at least a little intrigued by this game, I’m…I’m really not sure why you’re watching soccer.

Nick’s pick: “You Can’t Catch Me,” by Chuck Berry

#4 Tottenham – Liverpool (17:30 GMT, 1:30pm ET)

History is vast and strange circumstances proliferate within it like conspicuous mouth-breathing on The Sopranos. Still, has there ever been a more intriguing first-place v. last-place matchup? Ever? If Tottenham win, look for them to announce plans to increase the size of their imaginary new stadium by 200,000 seats.

Nick’s pick: “The Chicken and the Hawk,” by Big Joe Turner

#3 Málaga – Barcelona (19:00 GMT, 3pm ET)

Málaga are currently in 6th place in La Liga and Barça looked beatable in their last match in the Copa del Rey. Will the Anchovies prove they belong on top? Will Messi be so distracted by the rumors of Maradona dropping him that he’ll disappoint Ray Hudson’s heart surgeon? (“Ray, there’s…there’s barely anything for me to do this week.  That’s…good.  I’m…glad you’re taking care of yourself.” Crushes photograph of boat, kicks it under operating table.) I don’t know, if this one gets boring I’ll probably turn it off and save myself for the MLS playoffs.

Nick’s pick: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” by Tears For Fears


#2 Udinese – Genoa (13:00 GMT, 9am ET)

Both clubs are outperforming expectations in Serie A. Udinese’s little zebras are improbably top of the table. Quagliarella is playing like he deserves every single letter of his name. Will it last? No?

Nick’s pick: “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” by Bob Dylan

#1 Milan – Napoli (18:30 GMT, 2:30 ET)

It’s kind of a Serie A-heavy weekend, but there’s no way I’m going to miss 1) Milan’s first game since the Beckham loan was confirmed and 2) Napoli’s first game since the Maradona appointment. If you can find an English-language broadcast, the drinking games alone could be lethal. Oh, it’s also a match at the San Siro between two resurgent teams currently ranked second and third in the league. So you know. It’s got that going for it, too.

Nick’s pick: “Suddenly Everything Happens,” by California Snow Story

I’m not sure if I’ll have any new posts this weekend, but as you know, I always love to hear about the matches you’re watching. Thoughts, impressions, angry reminders of games I left out, better song picks, and desperate love notes to people you once saw on the subway and suspect might read this blog are always welcome in the comments.

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A Weekend of Beautiful Music (Over to You, Nick Hornby)

by Brian Phillips · October 31, 2008

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