Most sports fans have heard of the Madden curse. Each year, the makers of the John Madden football video game pick a player to don the cover. Usually the player had a great season the year prior and is among the most marketable in the sport. As it turns out though, the player picked has more times than not had a brutal year the season following their Madden cover appearance. The likes of Shaun Alexander, Brett Favre, Michael Vick, Marshall Faulk and most recently Peyton Hillis have all fallen victim to either off years or injuries. It has gotten to a point where players need to strongly consider whether or not they want to sponsor the game and appear on the cover. Sports Debaters has recently imitated the Madden video game, as our picks have been back firing and teams or players we have chosen to win keep failing. The New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Tiger Woods, Oklahoma City Thunder, Netherlands Soccer team and others have all been recent victims. Today, two more fell prey to the Sports Debater Jinx.
When we previewed the Euro Cup, our expert was very high on one of the 4 groups in particular, which was nicknamed “The Group of Death”. It featured Germany, Portugal and the before mentioned Netherlands, who we thought might win the entire tournament. Well, fast forward three weeks and the Netherlands lost all three of their games and didn’t make it past the group stage. Both Portugal and Germany made it to the semis as expected, but then we also picked the Germans to beat Italy and make a Finals run. Actually, we thought Italy would be eliminated to the English in the last round so we missed that one heading into today’s match. Mario Balotelli scored two goals for the Italians against the Germans in the first half, and even though the Germans had many opportunities to score and finally did late in stoppage time, they were never able to recover from their early deficit. The Germans came into the match carrying a world record 15 game winning streak against international competition. If they won number 16, it would have set up an awesome finals with Spain, who barely avoided the Sports Debater jinx yesterday against the Portuguese. Sunday’s final will now match the Italians against the Spanish, so wait to see who we pick in the upcoming days so you can throw money on the other team and probably clean up.
There was an even more shocking result on a different patch of European grass this afternoon, as the magnificent Rafael Nadal fell to a Czech named Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon. Who?!?!?! Just three nights ago, our tennis expert picked Nadal to cruise to the finals but eventually lose to Novak Djokovic. Instead, Nadal will exit the tournament in his quickest Grand Slam loss since 2005. He lost the match in 5 sets, as the score was 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Rosol was the 100th ranked player in the world and was playing in his first ever Wimbledon at the age of 26. Usually in tennis, if a player is going to make a name for himself, he’ll show signs of success prior to Rosol’s current age. If you couple Rosol’s inexperience and total obscurity with the fact that Nadal has played in both the past five Wimbledon finals and past five Grand Slam finals, this result was stunning to everybody who witnessed it. Rosol agreed as he said “I’m not just surprised; it’s like a miracle for me…I never expected something like this.” Well, obviously the experts at Sports Debaters didn’t either and now Novak Djokovic is anxiously hoping that unlike Nadal, he can avoid the jinx we have laid on so many in recent weeks.
With all that said, we are still confident that things will begin falling our way. In the past, we’ve successfully picked horse racing, hockey and basketball games, the NCAA basketball winner, boxing matches, etc. .. All successful teams slump from time to time, just ask the 1997 Yankees, who were the only team not to win the Series from 1996-2000. We still have more sport knowledge than the average Joe and we will absolutely not shy away from calling winners in the future. The beauty of sports is the unpredictability, the potential of an upset very time we tune into a game or contest. As for our picks, June was a tough month. So Jonathan Quick, LeBron James, Mario Balotelli, Lukas Rosol and the others who have benefitted as a result of us picking against them…you’re welcome! And for Tiger Woods, Martin Brodeur, Kevin Durant, Rafael Nadal and all the teams in the “Group of Death”…our bad!
If you have been following the Eurocup the same way I have then you have been sitting on the edge of your seat on a daily basis. In what has already been described as one of the best Eurocup’s in recent memory, the four remaining teams are poised to keep up the trends. In my group stage picks I got 6 out of 8 correct. In my quarterfinal predictions I got 3 out of 4 correct…damn you England. Now for my semifinal predictions, I feel that I will be batting 1.000 with these. Geographically, these final two matchups are close, but talent-wise these teams are nearly identical. With Spain versus Portugal and Germany versus Italy, soccer fans around the world are going to have their eyes glued to their televisions for the next two days.
What a matchup this is. With arguably the two best wingers in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, Portugal will look to face off with the best overall team in the world, Spain. Spain comes with an endless list of talent that seems to hit you from every angle. Led by midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi, Spain passes the ball with such precision that they are pretty much guaranteed to have the advantage in possession every game. Spain has been know to toy with their opponent and strike just when they give their competitor enough hope that they might survive this pointless battle. In Spain’s quarterfinal win against the French, Spain seemed to control the ball the entire game and it looked like they could have won 8-0 rather than the 2-0 they finished with. To beat Portugal, Spain is going to have to play around less and attack more. Portugal has two weaknesses, one is they have no talent at the striker position and two is that they lack fluid ball movement up and down the field. Cristiano Ronaldo has quieted the skeptics that feel his international play isn’t up to his league play, by leading the Euro’s with 3 goals already and poised for more. To score a goal is one thing, but to score a goal on a defense consisting of Sergio Ramos, Girard Pique and Alvaro Arbeloa is a whole other. Sure Ronaldo is the best scorer in the world, some might argue Lionel Messi, but Spain is the best team in the world and since Ronaldo is really only receiving quality passes from Nani and Moutinho, I expect his chances to score to be slim. This will be a close game throughout but I just feel that Spain is destined to make it to the Finals one more time.
Prediction: Spain wins 1-0
There wasn’t a person in the world that didn’t predict Germany to get to this point in the competition. Italy on the other hand has been trying to clear their shitty image and become a respectable face on the international level once again. Germany seems as good as ever as they swept through the group stage with 3 wins for the first time in their countries history and then they slammed the Greeks into a block of Feta cheese. Sweeping through the group stage is good, but sweeping through the “group of death,” is near miraculous. The Greeks were good but they stood absolutely no chance against the uber-talented Germany squad. Bastain Schweinsteiger is arguably the best midfielder in the world and he is one of 8 Bayern Munich superstars that plays for Germany. With other brilliant players like Klose, Muller, Ozil, Gomez, Podolski, and Kroos, Germany has no shortages on ways to hurt you. Italy will have their hands full as they try and slow down this juggernaut of a team. Led by hot-tempered striker, Mario Balotelli, Italy will try and use the same tactics that they used on England for Germany. Keep the game close and don’t lose. Balotelli had multiple chances to put one into the net but failed every time he tried. For Italy to stand a chance Mario is going to have to find the back of the net at least once. Even though Italy dominated the time of possession and pretty much the whole game against England, the game still came down to penalties. Andrea Pirlo, one of the oldest players Italy has at 33, made one of the classiest penalty kicks I have ever seen which seemed to shift the shootouts momentum into the Italians favor. Gianluigi Buffon will have his hands full trying to save the dozens of shots I am predicting Germany to have on net and in the end it will all be a just a little too much for him.
Prediction: Germany wins 2-1
These are my predictions and I hope if you don’t agree with me you are willing to tell me why…