It's time to talk hair and football. And you had us at hair. We can't help but obsess over who's got it best in the current iteration of Liverpool's footballing squad. Consider this an exercise in aesthetics. Consider it your one way ticket to ga-ga land. Or consider it shameless if you're so inclined.
The rules are simple: two teammates go in, one teammate comes out. Lather, rinse, and repeat until only one is left standing. The seeding, while completely biased, has at least been fueled by chilled adult beverages, and the long-held belief that you are what we say your hair says you are. By the end, the winner will surely be left feeling infamous amongst his bested teammates. Welcome to Hairspray's Follicopalypse 2015.
Raheem Sterling (1) vs. Fabio Borini (16)
Hairspray's poster boy unsurprisingly walks through the door with the number one seed. He lives on the cutting edge with an effervescent, youthful verve. That distinguishes the lad from any other Red entrant in this hallowed competition. Facing off against Young T-Rex Arms is the Italian lad no one would think twice about bringing home to mom: Fabio Borini. Sleeper candidate, Fab, as it wasn't long ago he was threatening the absolute highest rungs of hairstyle. Casual, confident, wonderfully ruffled - one would think this could end up being a real slobberknocker. But then we remembered this half on/wax off stunt he pulled. Dreem moves on.
Emre Can (2) vs. Jose Enrique (15)
Jose Unrealque brings a lot of things to the game: excellent dribbling, incredible trickery on the ball, deadeye passing range, and clinically accurate finishing. But enough about Fifa. When fit, Enrique is actually a damn decent professional footballer. He is also a goldfish. Taken together, none of those facts are more impressive than Jose Enrique's ability to go from this to this, within a matter of hours. Honestly, what the hell? But the honorable mention that comes from being an 11 seed is as much as he can hope for going up against Emre Can. C'mon... it's Emre.
Adam Lallana (3) vs. Dejan Lovren (14)
There is no sugar coating it: this matchup was a lot closer than we could have predicted. Two former Southampton teammates in their mid-twenties going toe-to-toe with their respective takes on classic side parts and subtle scruffiness. Dejan Lovren, going from diabolically poor to perhaps half decent on the pitch this season, just looks so damn good doing stuff - even when the stuff he's doing doesn't look great. His ego remains an ever expanding space of shouty hot air swallowing up other egos en route a supermassive state, but he's never hard to look at. And, so, he gave the Llama a real run for his money in this opening round. Increasingly, though, Adam Lallana is the whale oil burning in our lamp light. A dancing flame always drawing our gaze as we sip on a nicely nostalgic Malbec. And his addition to the collective has had tangible effects throughout the squad. The lads really are going higher, tighter, and cleaner than ever before. Adam moves on.
Mystery Science Contender 3000 (4) vs. Brad Jones (13)
Brad Jones' hair is basically the direct opposite of Brad Jones' netminding ability: it's naturally gifted, it's reliable, and it is absolutely poised at all times. He also seems an affable bloke, and gives a very good account of his homeland, America B. Regrettably, not only is he not future World Player of the Year Candidate Maty Ryan, but he is running into the buzzsaw that is Mystery Science Contender 3000. While we here at Hairspray are not at liberty to disclose who MSC3K is this early in the competition, suffice it to say that it is Suso. Susoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Jordan Henderson (5) vs. Mario Balotelli (12)
Put delicately, Jordan Henderson has a great, big, fat head. It is enormous. You could put satellites into orbit around Hendo's cranium. When he flies coast to coast, tides are affected. When alien archaeologists find his fossilized remains millions of years from now, they will be convinced that he was a part of another species altogether. That head is also home to some of the most finely honed hair product usage in the game today. Up against the once and future captain is the man of which "it" is always about: Mario Balotelli. The first mohawk in the competition may be the finest mohawk in the competition, in particular lately. That raw punk vibe is really shining through for Mario's headgame these days, and it makes for a fascinating juxtaposition with Henderson's intricately manicured presentation. We could watch these two go back and forth for eons and still want more. We are also contractually obligated not to ever harm a hair on Jordan Henderson's perfect - if thoroughly ginormous - head. Sorry, Balo, no penalties to be kicked here.
Philippe Coutinho (6) vs. Mamadou Sakho (11)
Inarguably the most soulful first round matchup pits the final mohawk of the bunch against Liverpool's form performer, and perhaps all in all best player. Mamadou Sakho's impact on Liverpool's season has been almost as enormous as his feet. Philippe Coutinho does this sorta thing all the time now. Mamadou Sakho inspires children the world over to confidently pair purple tops with fur collars and aviators. Philippe Coutinho continues doing this type of stuff on the reg. The problem is, Coutinho is also capable of the greatest curls know to Fowler, but refuses to give them to us. He's trying to grow up, be a cleaner, more mature Phil, maybe. Maybe Lallana continues to inspire his asking for a #2 instead of some more casual scissor-only trimming? At the end of the day, the only thing we can think of that is hotter than this, would be combining it with this. So, for being such a rotten tease, we have no remorse in cutting a Unicorn. #TeamMarmaduke.
Daniel Sturridge (7) vs. Harry Wilson (10)
In a fair world, Daniel Sturridge is not a 7 seed, and Harry Wilson isn't being rushed beyond his years to compete at the highest levels of the game. The world is not fair; however, as denoted by a 17 year old kid being graced with some of the finest follicles in the entire organization. His skin looks like it has yet to go through its first breakout, but his hair leaves us no choice but to throw him in at the senior level. Tough draw for the lad, because Daniel Sturridge is actually heavily underseeded thanks to an injury ravaged season. That or we forgot to add him to the bracket until just now. Either way, Studge has some of the coolest hair in Red these days. Which is why it's so difficult for us to bounce him in the first round. Upset City is where Cinderella was born, baby. DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES???
Martin Skrtel (8) vs. Jordon Ibe (9)
The uninitiated may be wondering what a bald man is doing in a cutthroat competition based largely on hair. To which we say, A.) anywhere where cutthroat competition is at hand, there you will find Martin Skrtel. And 2.) hair. The guy isn't bald, he just realizes that hair creates drag, and drag slows you down when you are fighting for every centimeter of pace in an effort to cover whatever the fuck Dejan thought he was doing over there. Jordon "Ebay" Ibe has so much Fowler-given pace, he could Paul Mitchell his coiffure into a sail, and it wouldn't take more than half a yard of space off him and the bamboozled fullback he just left behind him. He's also young and experimenting. We're not about to forget that weird floofy period from the preseason, but more importantly, we're also terrified of what Skrtel would do to us if we failed him at the first time of asking. Sorry, Ebay, your day in the sun will come, lad. Keep doing you.
Round 1 in the bag and the second installment promises some tantalizing matchups. Will Martin Skrtel eat Raheem Sterling? Can Harry Wilson give us another chapter of his Cinderalla story? Will the judges continue to turn a blind eye to Mystery Science Contender 3000's problematic participation in what is supposed to be an intra-squad faceoff? Will Adam Lallana visit us in our dreams tonight? Stayed tuned, and keep walking through that storm, folks.