Slakr actually agrees with Moaninho about Del Horno. To a point. And rants about the rest of the Champions League results.
The only thing that almost no-one can dispute is that Wednesday’s Champion’s League games were tremendous advertisements for the game as a whole. Trying to watch all four games on four big screens made me realize exactly why I love football. Unlike any other sport, I (and most of you) can watch and appreciate a good game even when we’re not emotionally invested in either team. First-legs can often be a bit of a letdown, with nothing completely at stake in the 90 minutes. These four certainly did not follow that pattern.
The star game of the night was undoubtedly Werder Bremen at home to Juventus. 1-0 up with 20 minutes left. 2-1 down with 8 minutes left. 3-2 up at the final whistle. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a Bremen fan with a heart condition. Tremendous fight by both sides, with the only complaint possibly being (and this is only on watching a repeat) that some players seemed mighty prone to disappearing for large stretches of the game. The most amusing snippet of footage I’ve seen for a while as well was Bremen fans celebrating the second goal too much to notice the third. There was one guy in particular who clearly missed the entire goal and didn’t realize for a while exactly what had happened. Priceless.
Inter – Ajax was another cracker. Inter were frankly disappointing in the first period. They were far from it in the second. There were a number of chances to equalize in the second, and it was their just desserts that they did finally in the 86th. Tremendous character and fight when a 2-1 loss would have been an acceptable result.
Rangers – Villareal was a game closer to the heart. I don’t think there are many neutral fans in Scotland, but those that there are must be squarely behind Rangers after this performance. Villareal are a quality team, and in Riquelme have a fabulous playmaker, but Rangers more than held their own in this game. Though this must count as a point for Villareal thanks to the precious away goals. Rangers have left themselves with a decent chance of progressing even further in the competition.
The Chelski – Barca class sadly will be overshadowed by controversy. And Mourinho is dead right — that tackle didn’t deserve a red card. A yellow certainly, but it was the tackle of a desperate man being outclassed, rather than a desperate man out for violence. That he probably deserved another yellow earlier is irrelevant — you cannot reflectively give cards for previous offenses. And Messi does act well for an 18-year-old (though rather like a 5-year-old, he gives it away by looking up and making sure his parents are watching first). Though to be fair, it may not be the Catalan theatre companies that are responsible for his skill, but rather just watching tapes of Chelski (Robben anyone?). And Del Horno had no business rolling around as much as he did either in an attempt to evade the yellow. It would have been justice if he had been given a yellow for the foul, and an immediate yellow for play-acting. But we can play what-ifs all night. The truth is that he got a red card for the foul, and didn’t deserve that.
But lets leave the controversy aside for a second. Chelsea (note the spelling) played like lions for the rest of a game that had been fairly cagey till that point. The skill has never been in doubt, but the fight, heart and discipline that they displayed shows why Roman has been able to “buy” titles in England in a way that Real Madrid cannot. Drogba threw away a gilt-edged chance to end the game on an emphatic note, and Chelsea payed the price, but I don’t want to be the person that plays them next up.
Most of the games on Tuesday, on the other hand deserve slightly less mention. Liverpool were pants. As were Benfica. And the sucker-punch at the end was undeserved, but really just rewards to the ‘Pool for what looked like a complete lack of effort. Luis Garcia in particular deserves to be called out for not completing any passes at all (unless you count the pinpoint ones to Benfica players).
But lets leave the best to the last. That man Mr. Henry. What a goal. And what a performance by The Children of the Arse. Beckham looked poor (then again, he is). Woodgate looked like he was made of glass. Ronaldo looked like he’d had a pie too many. Robinho looked out of his league, and it was only the marvelous Casillas that kept the scoreline barely respectable. Flamini and Fabregas showed why Wenger rates them so highly, and Freddie and Terry looked like invincibles. Yes, those Invincibles. Naturally I hope Liverpool decimate them in an all-England final, but if not the ‘Pool here’s hoping that The Arse pull a Michael Owen on Patty Viera and win the trophy that the great man is still missing.