Sunday, March 17, 2013

Champions' League Update

Every year, there is usually at least one European soccer result that is just so brutally unfair that it makes you wonder why anyone in Britain bothers to watch soccer.  This year that result took place in the Round of 16 of the Champions' League.

The three best clubs in Europe this year are probably Barcelona (which gets even better treatment from European officials than Duke gets over here), Real Madrid, and Manchester United.  United are having an awesome year, as they are simply running away with the English Premier League title, and they finished top of their group in the preliminary phase of the Champions' League.  There was great speculation that the Red Devils could reach the Champions' League Final in Wembley Stadium, thus giving their legendary manager -- Sir Alex Ferguson -- the opportunity to crown his career with a historic victory.

But this was not to be.  First, United was drawn to play Real Madrid in the Round of 16 -- the most difficult possible matchup they could have faced.  In the first leg of their two-leg match, however, United went to Real Madrid and got a 1-1 draw -- an excellent result.  In the second leg, in Manchester, United took a 1-0 lead after 48 minutes.  Now they led 2-1 on aggregate, and their defense looked as though it would easily hold Real Madrid out for the remainder of the match.  It's not that easy for English clubs, however.  You will recall that last year, when Chelsea was leading Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions' League, Chelsea had a man sent off and Barcelona was awarded a penalty kick.  As it happened, Barca missed the penalty kick and Chelsea hung on for a historic victory.

Man Utd was not that lucky.  In the 56th minute, they had a man sent off, and were forced to play the rest of the game with only 10 men.  United are better than Real Madrid, but not that much better.  Real Madrid scored two goals in the last 40 minutes, and moved on with a 3-2 victory.  To his credit, the Real Madrid manager said after the game that the better team lost.

It's amazing to me that soccer fans put up with such results.  But they do, and so they just keep getting more of the same.  (To be fair, Celtic did protest after the official in the first leg of their match against Juventus refused to do anything to stop the Italian team from hammering Celtic all over the field.  The result was, of course, that now the European football authorities are angry at Celtic.  Welcome to Europe.)

So all of the British clubs have been eliminated, and there will be great rejoicing across the rest of Europe.  My advice to any British clubs seeking to win this tournament next year is to learn from Chelsea's experience last year -- learn how to play with 10 men.

Here are the aggregate scores from the Round of 16:

Schalke 04 (GER) 3 - 4 Galatasary (TUR)
Juventus (ITA) 5 - 0 Celtic (SCO)
Bayern Munich (GER) 3 - 3 Arsenal (ENG) (Munich win on away goals)
Borussia Dortmund (GER) 5 - 2 Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Barcelona (ESP) 4 - 2 AC Milan (ITA)
Manchester Utd (ENG) 2 - 3 Real Madrid (ESP)
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) 3 - 2 Valencia (ESP)
Malaga (ESP) 2 - 1 Porto (POR)

This sets up the following quarter-finals:

Borussia Dortmund (GER) v. Malaga (ESP)
Galatasaray (TUR) v. Real Madrid (ESP)
Barcelona (ESP) v. Paris Saint-German (FRA)
Juventus (ITA) v. Bayern Munich (GER)

The Bayern/Juventus match should be somewhat entertaining, although to be honest I'm just waiting for the eventual showdown between Barca and Real Madrid.

No comments:

Post a Comment