Thursday, February 23, 2012
The Europa All-Stars
Columnist Randy returns with a proposition:
Here in America, every major sport has an All-Star game: the NFL (Pro Bowl), NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball (MLB) and even the MLS all have All-Star games. These games are somewhat entertaining, but in general are just glorified exhibitions games. Some notable exceptions are the MLB All-Star game, which decides home field advantage for the World Series, and the MLS All-Stars that get the honor of being trounced by Manchester United.
This got me thinking. Europe has plenty of trophies to play for, the FA Cup in England, the Europa League and, of course, the Champions League amongst others. The one thing missing, of course, is a European-wide All-Star tournament. Image the best from the Barclay’s Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga all battling it out for the crown of “Best Football League in the World”. It would be glorious. The tournament would be played the first two weeks of June, giving the players some time to rest and practice. The locations for the first round would be determined by coin flip, with the championship game rotated among the major cities in England, Italy, Spain and Germany like the Super Bowl. Imagine 90,000 screaming fans in Wembley, or close to 100,000 in Camp Nou in Barcelona, watching the best of the best in the world.
Now you might ask, “Why not other leagues? “ Well, that one’s easy: at the end of the day you want the biggest draw (read: money) for the games, so it would naturally involve the biggest leagues. Plus, historically these have been the strongest leagues. Sorry France, maybe next time.
To pick the best players we could borrow from how several sports leagues do it here in America: one-third fan vote, one-third player vote and one-third manager vote. This way a player that is immensely popular but having a bad year will not necessarily take a spot away from a more deserving player.
Since we still have a good way to go in the BPL season I’ll take a first look at deserving All-Stars so far, and then come back towards the end and update the list for our final All-Star team. Let the controversy begin!
Robin Van Persie* (Arsenal) – Leading the league in goals, enough said.
Sergio Aguero* (Man City) – Seemingly always involved in the scoring.
Demba Ba (Newcastle) – A goal scoring machine. He plays, he scores.
Wayne Rooney (Man United) – Second in goals to RVP.
David Silva* (Man City) – Simply brilliant this year.
Clint Dempsey* (Fulham) – Leading all Midfielders in goals. First American to record a hat trick.
Gareth Bale* (Tottenham) – Having a fantastic season for Spurs.
Luis Nani* (Man United) – Makes United go. Also has 8 goals and 9 assists, making him one of the League's top scorers.
Antonio Valencia (Man United) – Has been electric for Man United this season.
Anthony Pilkington (Norwich) – One of the top scoring midfielders this year.
Ryan Taylor* (Newcastle) – Having s stellar campaign with 3 goals, 6 assists and 8 clean sheets.
Vincent Kompany* (Man City) - Could be the best defender in the league, especially with Vidic out.
Brede Hangeland* (Fulham) - 61 blocks and 104 clearances to go with 7 clean sheets for middling Fulham.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto* (Tottenham) – Great attacking defender with 2 goals and 5 assists to go with 57 crosses.
Patrice Evra (Man United) – League leading 12 clean sheets.
Ashley Williams (Swansea) – 9 clean sheets, 23 blocks and 47 clearances.
Joe Hart* (Man City) – The best goalkeeper in the league.Could he be England’s next Captain?
Michel Vorm (Swansea) – Has burst on the scene with a strong season for surprising Swansea City.
* - Denotes starter