It is our goal here at the Curious Mechanism to learn everything and to impart some of that stuff that we’re learning to our readers. Bearing in mind that our audience is mainly North American, a little bit of learnin’ on soccer wouldn’t do ya no harm. You can normally look for a recap of the English Premier League and other big games around Europe here on Monday but since we were lucky enough to have some UEFA Champions’ League action this week, y’uns are lucky enough to hear from us today, too.
Wednesday saw Chelsea FC in action against Valencia CF of Spain at Stamford Bridge in London. The first leg ended all square at 1-1 with a cracker of a goal from David Silva for Valencia and an equalizer from Ivorian goal-scoring machine Didier Drogba. I didn’t see the goal but I’ll bet a fiver he tripped and fell and the ball just happened to bounce off him as he was falling. As you read this column, you’ll discover just how much I hate Drogba and his Chelsea compatriots. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says the tie is wide open but you have to fancy Spanish high-fliers Valencia at home in the second leg, especially with their all-important away goal (if the aggregate score is tied after two legs, the team that scored more goals away from home goes through to the next round). They’ve got it under control barring any Chelsea heroics, but Chelsea have been distinctly ordinary of late and heroics seem out of the question.
The big story in Wednesday night’s football action was AS Roma beating Manchester United 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Unfortunately, the game was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Fan violence before the game, par for the course in Italy these days, saw five supporters injured in what would be a mere preview of things to come inside the ground. After the goals, rival supporters rushed a barrier made to separate fans within one section of the ground. Riot police on the United side of the border appeared to do a number on Man U supporters, bloodying many up and leaving a dozen in hospital overnight, leading to condemnations from Manchester United and UEFA. The violence in Rome brings to mind the near crush in Lens, France in the group stages of this same competition when United were playing Lille Metropole. And how could we not mention the shambolic state of Italian football at the minute. Earlier this season, a police officer was killed at a Sicilian derby and many grounds are still closed to get them up to snuff safety-wise. I can’t imagine that Italy’s [in]famous bureaucracy can fix the problem of football violence and the scenes in Rome Wednesday night weren’t encouraging. The second leg of the tie is back in Manchester United and you just know that United will play shit, score a goal in the 83rd minute, win 1-0 and go through to the semi-finals. Despite losing, United are still very much in the driver’s seat. So predictable it’s boring.
Tuesday night’s football saw AC Milan face Bayern Munich in Milan. AC were leading going into the final minute of play when a last gasp equalizer from Daniel van Buyten ensured the German supporters would have something to celebrate on their trip home. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t give a toss about this match. My Tuesday afternoon was spent dealing with this delicious dish:
PSV EINDHOVEN 0 – 3 LIVERPOOL! Get in! To quote the great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, “Chairman Mao has never seen a greater show of red strength” than at Scallywag’s Pub in Toronto on Tuesday. Rafa Benitez’s mighty red men were distinctly ordinary in Eindhoven Tuesday night but they didn’t need to be much better and we in our packed pub ate up every minute of it. The Dutch side just didn’t seem to show up and Liverpool were happy to take advantage starting with a great header from Steve Gerrard on a cross in from the impeccable Irishman Steve Finnan (“Steve Gerrard Gerrard! He’ll score it from 30 yards! He’s Scouse and he’s fuckin’ hard! Steve Gerrard Gerrard!”). John Arne Riise made it 2-0 when he capitalized from distance on a rotten clearance with one of his famous bending left-footed drives (“Hey! Ohh! John Arne Riise! I wanna know how you scored that goal!”). Peter Crouch scored his fourth goal in two games to secure the rout, prompting a rapturous rendering of “He’s big! He’s red! His feet stick out the bed! Peter Crouch!” Barring an act of God at Anfield in a fortnight’s time, Liverpool have booked their place in the semi-finals to play the winner of Chelsea and Valencia.
The Curious Mechanism’s prediction for the Champions’ League semi-finals: Liverpool vs Valencia; Manchester United vs Bayern Munich. And a final to relish: Liverpool vs Manchester United.