España vs Italia. May the better bearded team win.

And it’s come down to my two favorite teams.

Every once in a blue moon or so, we all have to make really difficult decisions: what college do I want to go to, who do I want to spend the rest of my life with, paper or plastic? Well, this weekend we will all have to make the gut-wrenching decision of who to root for in the Euro Cup Final, Spain or Italy. There are plenty of reasons you could choose one team over the other, like how Spain would be the first team to win three major titles in a row, or how Italy could redeem themselves from an awful World Cup showing two years ago. But why focus on trivial things like that. What it really comes down to is facial hair.

With nowhere else to turn, I have decided to evaluate both teams on their players’ beards. A beard is a noble thing to cheer for, and to the victor must go the spoils:

1) Michele De Rossi – Italia
Michele didn’t always have a beard; it’s a rather recent addition to Italy’s squad.  It matches the color of his actual hair rather well, and has a charming rustic quality to it, somewhat reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside. In the picture above, it also prevents him from looking like a shocked little child that just shat himself. Additionally, there’s something to be said for blonde hair with a blue outfit. It makes his blue eyes pop even more. Overall not my go-to beard, but still very impressive.

2) Xavi Alonso – España
Xavi Alonso is the man, as is evidenced by the fact that you can’t just call him Xavi (which might have something to do with the other Xavi on the Spanish side…).  To say his beard is iconic is an understatement. This thing is practically the 12th player on the field. I’m fairly certain that header that “Xavi Alonso” scored was actually just his beard kicking the ball in the goal. His beard is so dedicated to España that it’s red. That’s right, his beard is so bad ass, that it doesn’t even care that it’s not the same color as Xavi Alonso’s actual hair. Not to mention that it makes him look like the Brawny man. Someone get this guy a flannel shirt and a PBR.

3) Claudio Marchisio – Italia
Bravo, Claudio. Way to match your beard to your team mate’s. But can we discuss how you didn’t have the decency to get photographed with your beard ON THE FIELD!? Don’t you know I’d be Google imaging your name to find a bearded pic on the pitch? Regardless, nice use of the quasi-chin strap. This is a subtler beard, with notes of amber and probably a smooth finish. Just like Michele, you use the same hair color all over your head and accentuate your blue eyes. I mean, are all the bearded players on your team from Northern Italy? Why are there no super olive-complected guys with enough hair on their face to make a sweater? I guess Italia is more in favor of a tame, classy expression of facial hair. No swarthiness on this team.

4) Sergio Ramos – España
Sergio, Sergio, Sergio… not only do you have an impressive beard, but LOOK AT THAT JAW STRUCTURE. Sometimes we forget the key building blocks of a good beard, but if you don’t have strong cheek bones, you can kiss your hopes at a beautiful beard goodbye. You have perfected the hipster hair combo: sexy beard and cool edgy haircut. Notice the way it sweeps gently across the forehead without blocking his range of vision. It’s like a functional Bieber-cut, only actually attractive. Has anyone approached you about leading an indie-rock band? Because that could have serious potential as a post-soccer career. Señor Ramos, you may have just won my heart over for Spain…. oh wait, there’s one more beard I forgot?

5) Antonio Nocerino – Italia
OHHH SHIT! Italy’s answer to the Sergio Ramos… Sorry Serg, but Nocerino just one-upped you. Do you SEE how big that beard is? It’s practically eating his face alive! It’s full, dark, and well trimmed. It’s the equivalent of a power-shot aimed at the upper 90 of the goal: it has both brawn and accuracy. And how jealous are you of that haircut? I’ve been trying to get my barber to cut my hair like that for years. Super close on the sides, which makes the beard pop even more, then the edgy length on top. What…. a badass. I have found my new idol.

This concludes our competitive review of the beards of the Euro Cup Final. We must give the bearded win to Italy, though we hope Spain wins the actual game. So in essence, we’re right back to square one of not knowing what to root for… well, except for a one-on-one battle of the beards between Sergio Ramos and Antionio Nocerino.

Ciao Bella!

Matteo Yazge

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