Friday, April 29, 2011

The Two Champions: One Year Later

The soccer world has been awarded a rare treat this spring. Barcelona and Real Madrid, the two great rivals of Spanish football are currently in the midst of an unprecedented string of encounters, each one seemingly growing more contentious than the last.

The two met a fortnight ago in a Spanish La Liga encounter that is known annually as the "El Clasico." That one ended in a 1-1 draw. A week later the two teams met in the Spanish Cup Final. Real Madrid won that one 1-0 and then later that night they dropped the trophy off the top of a moving bus.

Yesterday the two met in the first leg of a two-part European Champions League semi-final. That one boiled over into bitter contention that saw Madrid have a player asked to leave the pitch and their coach sent off from the sidelines. The bad feelings between the sides were so bad at the halftime interval that Barca had a player sent off who wasn't even in the match, just for getting involved in an affray with opposing players.

Barcelona went on to record a scrappy 2-0 victory which gives them a heady advantage going into the second leg next week. The winner of that will go on to face Manchester United in the final and whoever wins that will be crowned Champions of Europe.

Notably the two sides Spanish sides consist largely of players who were involved in Spain's victory in last summer's World Cup. Seven of the Spanish national team's regular 11 play together for Barca while another two at are at Real. Spain won last summer's tournament largely by playing fast, clever, inventive soccer.

There was a new champion crowned in the tech world last year as well and Apple, in their own way, can be regarded as having been just as fast, clever and inventive as the Spanish were in South Africa. In 2010 Apple, for the first time, surpassed Microsoft as the world's most valued tech company. And this week the maker of the iPad and the iPhone reported net income of $5.99 billion dollars for the first quarter of 2011.

So while it seems the sheen may be coming off the World Cup Trophy a bit, languishing in its case, as the men who won it together turn the European club championship into a back alley brawl, the sheen on Apple's conquest of the tech world just seems to be getting brighter and brighter.

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