Friday, April 07, 2006

El Submarino Amarillo . . .

You may be following the little competition between me and my barber? If not, when the ‘knock-out’ stages of the UEFA Champions League began, we each pegged 4 teams (out of a total of 16) that we thought would reach the semi-finals (the final four) of the competition.

My barber, Alonzo, had all four of the teams he picked eliminated in the first round (Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea). I had 3 of my teams advance past the first round, and now two of those three have advanced to the ‘final four’: Barcelona, and Villarreal.

Villarreal is the real story here. The club is located in Vila-real, a town of 48,000 people. The stadium, El Madrigal, holds 23,000 people. It is said, when the team is playing, the town is deserted, as half the city is at El Madrigal watching the game.

Needless to say, the residents are exuberant at the thought of their beloved Yellow Submarine reaching the finals of the most illustrious club football competition in the world. If Villarreal should reach the finals in Paris, at Stade de France, they would be only the second debutant to enter the competition to do so.

Such is the excitement for a team that has only been in the Spanish Fist Division (La Liga) since the 2000, that Father Guillermo, the priest of the Santa Sofia church, said he would ask for a celebratory mass at Notre Dame followed by a procession to the Stade de France - if the club reached the final. The 78-year-old, who attends matches wearing the club's bright yellow shirt and his dog collar, has the Champions League theme music as the ring tone on his mobile phone.

Maybe I’ll get into Sanctuary for another clip before the semi-finals and offer my barber a reprieve, and give him another chance to pick a couple of teams to reach the finals (and rub it in of course).

My picks . . . I’ll get back to you on that . . . but one of them is Villarreal!

Kosher Ham

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