What's happening? I'll tell you what, it's getting exciting. With apologies to MLS (I swear I'm giving it a chance), the game over in Europe has been really heating up. Look, there's even yelling. For those of you who actually recall reading old posts, I've been diligently following the English Premiership all season and we're really hitting the home stretch now. Keeping up with Liverpool has been fairly easy this season because they have been towards the top of the table (standings) in the EPL for most of the season. However, with the play of Manchester United and Chelsea (combined payroll $4 kajillion) the Reds have been mostly outsiders looking in, even from third place. The good news/bad news of the season is that we're coming down to the wire and there's going to be some important games for those top two teams but on the flip side there's no playoffs like in American sports and Liverpool is basically out of the running. In the place of these playoffs is the Champions League (tournament for the best teams from every league in Europe).
As a useless side note, I'm a little confused by all of this because in the good ole USA, there one champion and that's that. So, I find myself wondering what is more important to an English team, winning the league or the Champions League title? It seems like a toss-up. I know one thing, Liverpool are firmly focused on winning the CL because they have not other options.
In case you don't follow the game, we're in the semifinals now, with the top three English sides and AC Milan (ummm.. Italian, right?). The format includes each team getting a home game and the aggregate score determining the winner, with away goals as the tiebreaker. This last part is a rule that I've decided I hate. The notion that certain goals are worth more than others bothers me and leads to some questionable (if not downright boring) strategies.
This week was the first leg of the semis with the second legs on Tuesday and Wednesday (2:30 pm, set your DVR). Currently, Chelsea leads Liverpool 1-0 and ManU leads AC Milan 3-2, with both of the home teams winning. What's it all mean? Well, both Liverpool and Milan both need to score at home, but the Liverpool is in a bit rougher shape. For example, if Milan wins 2-1 at home they advance (aggregate 4-4, away goals 2-1) but if Liverpool wins by the same score, then they would lose on away goals. So, interestingly Chelsea wants a high scoring game (that they don't lose by more than one) and ManU wants a low scoring game (ditto). I guess what I'm saying is be prepared for a snoozefest in Milan and the possibility of fireworks at Anfield. But, if that doesn't happen, remind yourself that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.
Some other notes:
Please god of soccer (Pele?) don't let ManU and Chelsea play in the final. I'm tired of that so-called "rivalry" of the extremely wealthy. It's only interesting to their respective fans.
Kaka is awesome. Go look up his goals on YouTube. I think Brazil got too caught up on all the Ronaldinho hype during the World Cup and forgot that this guy is one of the top strikers in the entire world. Poor Brazil.
In other Brazilians with four letter names, if the AC Milan keeper Dida lets a couple of goals slide past him in the second leg, he might just be lynched. Eye on the ball homie.
Chelsea's coach Jose Mourinho is a self-proclaimed genius tactician, but what kind of strategy was he using in the second half Wednesday? Basically let Liverpool posses the ball, play stingy defense, then have Peter Cech crack a deep ball for Drogba 3/4 down the field. Yeah, who could have ever dreamt up that plan? Yawn.
It's fun that Arsenal is at home watching, isn't it? How's fourth place fellas?
And finally, Liverpool has got to find a way to score some goals. I honestly don't care what the lineup looks like, but Steven Gerrard was crap this week and so was Xabi Alonso.