Thursday, 1 May 2008

Champions League Round-Up

So, Manchester United and Chelsea are through to the Champions League Final in Moscow on May 21st.

Both teams, I feel, deserve it. Some years throw up underdogs (Monaco, Porto, Bayer Leverkusen) but this year we'll have a worthy winner.
In saying that though, Chelsea rarely impressed in the competition so far, included last week's flukey draw in Liverpool, but last night they really produced an excellent performance. Poor performances by Kalou & Joe Cole, and Malouda when he came on, were the only downpoint of the night for Chelsea.
Liverpool, played off the park in the first half, finally roared back to life in the second half. Like a zombie, even at 2 goals down in extra time, they weren't dead yet, and Babel scored an extra-ordinary goal, but it wasn't enough.

In the other semi-final, United produced an excellent defensive performance to go through. You could hardly say United were the better team, but they what needed to be done. At the back, Evra, Brown and Ferdinand were excellent, while Scholes, Park, Carrick and Tevez also impressed. Ronaldo, at times, provided a good outlet, and should have scored in the second half, but he saw too little of the ball to do much. Nani was terrible.
Barcelona, for all their fancy skills and good passing, never seriously looked like scoring, and the decision to sub Eto'o and bring on Bojan, when Barca clearly needed more presence up front, was odd.

United and Chelsea make the trip to Moscow, and the intolerable hype will start soon, but lets hope that it is not a re-run of the 2007 FA Cup final. With Mourinho gone, it should be better. And speaking of the Special One, I wonder how he feels at his myth being exploded?


P.S. All signs so far indicate a podcast being recorded later


Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said Mark. It's a good point you make about Mourinho too, he could'nt do what Grant has done with the same group of players. We all had a fair idea he was full of shit, maybe last nights result proves it once and for all. The final should actually be a good game, here's hoping for the right result!

Mark said...


Cathal O'Brien said...

Anonymous said...

Thoughts on the new take it to the next level nike ad, any game i've ever played in didn't play at that pace, a lot more panting and hands on hips/knees, far more liberal use of four letter words, Ronaldinho actually has the good grace to look sheepish acknowledging he hasn't kicked a ball in anger in yonks. Seems that if both he and mourinho are going to inter won't be a happy marriage and pity we might never see him back at his best.....take it to the next level or maybe both me and ronnie should lay off the hooch, granted both his game and drinks are champagne to my methylated spirits. Aah nike bringing crushing reality to me via a big paycheck to some superstars cheers.

String said...

Fair play to United the other night- still tighter at the back than Arsene Wenger's wallet, but much more in-your-face further up the pitch. Taking Deco out of the game was the key. Have to say credit to Grant and Chelsea too- after flunking very test up until a few weeks back, they've gone and done the business against Arse, Utd, and Pool when it mattered. He'll still be there next season, so it'll be interesting to see how he does with his own team.

Intriguing to see the manner in which the teams from the British isles have had their success; after years of deriding the negativity of the Italian game, they've struck gold with a template that even the Italians have moved on from. Witness Rangers doing Fiorentina last night. No coincidence than that us and the English have taken in two exponents of the Italian old school at the same time that the Italians are moving away from that system.

As a United fan, I'm delighted we've made it through, but I wouldn't be expecting to many fireworks in Moscow- not on the pitch anyway.

Benitez deserve to shot with balls of his own shit for subbing Torres.

String said...

Mark- saw that on the GU blogs yesterday- I still reckon it was pure luck. Some belter of a goal all the same though- Vieiri scored a similar one for Atletico around the same time, but static and swinging in.