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 Dangerous Glances

Major days for European soccer. The moments are fighting in the clock for the right to tick off the seconds.


Tottenham – Manchester United (17:30 GMT, 12:30pm ET) : Tottenham beat Manchester United about as often as the moon beats the sun, but the power of Redknapp is not to be fazed by astronomy. Will the magic last, or will Alex Ferguson rain down like a skeptical hail of science? Will Berbatov play, and if so, what part of White Hart Lane will escape incarceration? Harry Redknapp may be the only person not hauled away by the police. I think it would be a bittersweet feeling for him.

Barcelona – Madrid (21:00 GMT, 4pm ET) : The tyranny of chronological order decrees that this comes second, but it’s the champion of the weekend, at least for expectations. First, it’s one of the biggest derbies in the world, fought against an amazing translucent background montage of Robert Jordan blowing up bridges and the Clash writing songs about Lorca. Second, it’s a game between the twice-defending champions of Spain (Madrid) and the team that it currently doing alien-ship-over-the-White-House things to the rest of European football (Barcelona). Third, it is the first manifestation for Madrid of the epoch of Juande Ramos, and by their own statistical standards can be projected to represent around 8% of his games with the club. The stakes are high. Ray Hudson is somewhere in the Andes, deep in meditation. He’ll be ready.


Sevilla – Villarreal (18:00 GMT, 1pm ET) : Fourth versus second. The least I can say is that whoever wins this will have the inside track to ending the season within 30 points of Barça.

Juventus – AC Milan (19:30 GMT, 2:30pm ET) : Milan will most likely have Seedorf and Ronaldinho back from their injuries, but will have lost Gattuso and possibly Kaká. Juventus are missing Buffon, Trezeguet, and essentially everyone else but Del Piero, who may line up alone and attempt to man-mark Andriy Shevchenko. These teams are tied on points for second place but yield to no one in their inborn sense of aristocratic merit. It will be calm and heavy on heraldry, but it will be war.

I’m always eager to hear about your match-viewing experiences, so if a Barça-Madrid announcer temporarily deadens the hearing in your left ear, or you sense the dragnet closing in on you as you flee from White Hart Lane, please consider paying a visit to the comments.

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A Weekend of Dangerous Glances

by Brian Phillips · December 12, 2008

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