This Week in Football: Champions’ League Edition

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.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “This Week in Football: Champions’ League Edition

  1. Wait, do you like Liverpool or something?

  2. Benicio Raul Antonio Vega Ortiz

    I think that if the interest of this blog is to impart knowledge about every subject, then the author of this blog has the duty to include chants for the teams other than his beloved ‘Pool…I also think that it should be noted that wherever Manks are, there is violence, at least in the Champs League. I also believe a Liverpool vs AC final recreating Istanbul would be much more enjoyable…and finally, why do you have a picture of Vinny Jones grabbing someone’s balls? I thought you hated Chelsea players? Wouldn’t a picture of Alonso or Kuyt be more appropriate? Or do you just like balls?

  3. Andy

    Thanks for the comment, Benicio. Let’s tackle this point by point:
    1) My inclusion of Liverpool chants and not others was in the interest of space and my own preference. I don’t really care to include “Glory Glory Man United,” “Bury hey-yo” or “Play Up Pompey.” Additionally, I wasn’t at any of the games but I can speak for the chants sung at my bar. You rightly point out that the goal is to learn everything and impart our progress and I have to admit that I do not know every chant for every football club. Perhaps a column on football chants is in order.
    2) There is a correlation between Manchester United and fan violence in Europe, yes, but it is not nearly as compelling as the facts about Italian football. Yes, Manchester United has been at the centre of controversy both in Roma and in Lens but for very different reasons. Football violence (not just controversy) was the topic and it would be difficult to argue that travelling Man Utd fans, as raucous as they are, were responsible for the death of Italian policeman Filippo Raciti at the Sicilian derby between Catania and Palermo.
    3) It’s nice that you believe an AC Milan vs Liverpool final would be more enjoyable. I agree wholeheartedly. However, I wasn’t predicting which would provide the most enjoyment. If I was doing that, I would’ve called Roma 203 – 0 Man Utd with Christiano Ronaldo being abducted by Roma Ultras, and Valencia beating Chelsea 45-3 with Didier Drogba off with a broken leg in the first minute and Jose Mourinho banned from the touchline. I just can’t see AC Milan getting through the semi’s, as good as they and as enjoyable a rematch that would be in the final.
    4) The aim of the picture was to be something light-hearted. We also considered the Italian footballer peeing on the sidelines or a screenshot of the incredibly flamboyant ref found on YouTube. But we settled on this because, as you guessed, I just like balls. That and Vinny Jones was pre-Mourinho/pre-Abramovich Chelsea. Jones played for Chelsea when they were a proud respectable working class side. Before Roy Keane’s famed “prawn sandwich brigade” made its move to Chelsea.

    Thanks for the comment! I hope you keep reading so we can have some more dialog!

  4. Andy

    Addition: Further research has shown me two things. First, it’s Vinnie Jones. Second, Vinnie Jones made 42 appearances for Chelsea with the vast majority of his career being played at the completely vanilla, very-easy-to-get-along-with-no-matter-who-you-are Wimbledon FC (for whom he was playing when this photograph was taken). In fact, he made more appearances at Leeds United as well. So he may have been a Chelsea player but that is not at all the most important club to consider when thinking of Vinnie Jones.

  5. Benicio Raul Antonio Vega Ortiz

    Andy,
    I wasn’t trying to refute your point about Italy, I just hate the Manks as well and wanted to point out what a bunch of tossers they all were. I guess I’ll have to agree with your prediction of an All-England final would be more probable…however, it would be terrible for worldwide ratings, so I’m hoping the Ginos have some to cheer for and then lose embarassingly…again…Of course Vinnie Jones was a great player for Wimbledon, noble in fact during his time, returning to them after his stints with Chelsea and Sheffield and Leeds…Finally, I think you should consider the penis-bite on Jose Reyes for your next picture…who doesn’t like a little bit of gay during some soccer? Especially since you just reviewed Shortbus…

  6. Andy

    Jose Reyes, indeed many Arse’s, would do very nicely for the picture. And regarding my predictions for the European Cup final, I am a bit apprehensive about Liverpool seeing Valencia in the semi’s. It could go either way but we may just as easily have a Valencia vs Man Utd final.

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