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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Football Update

Shalke 0, Barcelona FC 1
Roma 0, Manchester United 2
Arsenal 1, Liverpool 1
Fenerbache 2, Chelsea 1

This is how things stand in the Champions League after the first round of the quarter finals. You would think that Manchester has the most comfortable position after scoring two away goals until you remember back to last year’s 1,7 loss at Old Trafford against Milan. I think that only Barcelona is pretty much assured of advancing at this point. They even showed the headline in a German paper that read “Adiós, Shalke.” Chelsea can advance with a 1,0 win at home. The Liverpool-Arsenal game will be another war and is probably way too close to call (but I will).

I have been saying for weeks that Manchester is going to win it all. I have had the advantage of seeing them play quite often this year. Spanish television broadcasts one of the best games of the week in the Premier League every Saturday afternoon. British friends here tell me that they are able to see better matches here (at least without paying) than they were able to watch at home. Spaniards follow British football more closely than any other European league. This all means that I have had the pleasure to see Manchester United play on at least five occasions this year and I think they won every game. Christian Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney are the best pair of forwards playing today, if not individually then together as one unit. Each scored in their game with Roma. They are like a two-man highlight reel every time they play.

Barcelona, although highly dysfunctional at times, has so much talent to spare that it can leave superstars like Ronaldinho, Marquez, Decco, Messi, and Eto’o on the bench and still field enough talent to beat anyone (except Valencia CF two weeks ago!). As if they needed anyone to step up, now this 17 year old Bojan kid is starting to play like a champion. He is the youngest player to score a goal in the history of the Champions. Granted, his goal was somewhat of a gift from his mentor, Thierry Henry, but still. Henry is playing well, to put it mildly, and so is Eto’o. Barcelona could and should win it all but they probably won’t because of internal problems.

Liverpool is the other team that you can’t count out. El Niño, aka Fernando Torres, is playing his guts out these days in the Liverpool tradition. It’s a shame that no Spanish team signed him last year when he left Atlético Madrid. Arsenal has another young Spanish superstar in Cesc Fabregas. I really look forward to watching the next meeting of these two great clubs.

I think Manchester, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Barça will make it to the semi-finals.

As if the Champions League weren’t providing enough football, The UEFA game between the Spanish club Getafe and Bayern Munich was one of the better games that I have seen this year (not as good as the Valencia CF, Barcelona FC game!).

And don’t forget, Valencia and Getafe will be playing for the Copa del Rey on April 12.

#The Premier game today on Spanish TV was Arsenal-Liverpool. That has to be rather rare when two teams between Champions League games have to play each other in their national league play. The game was another barn-burner and resulted yet again in a 1-1 draw. Both teams really played theri guts out. The game at Anfield on Tuesday should be incredible!

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