After two huge nights of Champions League action it’s pretty safe to say that everyone in the waking world is glad that the centerpiece of European football is back. The clashes of the biggest and best across the continent is the subject of plenty of hoop-la and clichés but really after several months of supposed super Sundays and the ‘magic’ of the FA Cup what’s not to love. Certainly the RTE coverage was the business as usual, and thankfully I avoided all sightings of Jamie Redknapp or Andy Gray this week.
After the first round of last sixteen games, most ties are brilliantly balanced. Yes, most likely Man United will steamroll Lyon at home and Inter will probably go tamely into the night in their return match against Liverpool but both ties will still attract decent audiences and an early goal for the Italians or the Frenchies could make for some quality action. Arsenal and AC Milan will be a fantastic return match though. Graham Hunter, one of World Soccer’s finer reporters reckons that the Arse will score an away goal, nick a draw and get through. Personally I’d see Milan winning by the odd goal.
There was some dirge of course with Chelsea stinking up the competition in Greece, but this was a rare blip. Celtic, Barcelona, Sevilla and Fenerbache all went out to entertain and like Real and Roma the night before they came through with flying colours. From an Irish perspective, it was great to see Aiden McGeady playing so well out on the wing, especially considering most African nations are better represented than us in the oul Champo League...o
The Uefa Cup meanwhile will get seriously interesting after the next draw for the last sixteen… well interesting in the sense that a lot of English teams (plus Rangers, Bayern, Fiorentina and Sporting Lisbon) are through, not interesting in that I think Bolton will provide any decent entertainment. This year’s competition has at the very least got a strong selection of big sides going into the latter stages and may be a decent watch as the season draws to a close.
So, what have we learned this week… or at least what have I randomly thought was interesting in the last three days?
- Gary Megson may not be a terrible manager after all. Going far better in the league and doing a good job on Athletico Madrid. Fair fucks to the ginger nugget.
- I will hate the sound of Karim Benzema’s name by the middle of the summer. Combine Lyon’s greedy bastard chairman with huge bids from around Europe and you get one tedious transfer saga. I hate sagas.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic should move to England. Anyone with as bitchy a quote as "Why don't you go and ask Materazzi what happened?" is too entertaining not to be on our screens more often. Pure class.
- Lasers are just plain funny. They won’t catch who did it, so this gag will just run and run. Tremendous accuracy considering the moving target though, well played Monsieur.
- Steven Gerrard shoots every time he gets the chance… well we all knew that already.
No podcast this Thursday night folks, which is fierce bad considering all the hard work ye did getting us that award earlier this week. We will be back, bursting with rapier wit and some six per cent cider next week as per usual, and apologies again for the no show this week, it couldn’t be helped.
But I hate ending on sad notes, so here’s something far funnier…