The Champions League resumed its season this week, and didn’t disappoint. The marquee match-up between Arsenal and Barcelona was fantastic football, and the upset boys in Shakhtar showed Roma that they are a serious force to deal with. It’s already been exciting, and there’s still more games to come. While only a quarter of the round of 16 have been played, there’s already a couple conclusions that can be arrived at.
The Premier League is king. If it wasn’t clear before, it is now. Tottenham, the fourth best team in England, went into the San Siro and beat the best Italy had to offer on their own field. AC Milan has effectively whooped up on Serie A all season, and on it’s biggest stage, it couldn’t score against an English side that is fighting to return to the Champions League next year. Arsenal continued the dominance by beating the Spanish Dominators. Barcelona is probably still going to sneak out to the next round, but the fact that they were unable to lay down the law against Arsenal makes you wonder if Barcelona would always place in the top 2 if they had to fare in the Premiership. I expect Chelsea to easily cruise, and also Man U should win their game to put all four English teams into the quarters. England looks good to continue their run of appearances in 5 of the last 6 Finals.
This competition is wide open. Perhaps the more important story from the Arsenal v. Barcelona match has to be that Arsenal showed that this competition is completely up for grabs. Shakhtar Donetsk’s domination of Roma and Tottenham’s win hinted that this could be a year like 2004 where Monaco played Porto in the final. Lyon could put up a fight and the way Chelsea look, Copenhagen pose as a solid upset bid. No matter how the competition shapes up, I fully expect a non-typical team in the final four at least. The leagues are getting closer together, and soon, leagues like Russia and Ukraine will start to consistently feature dominant teams in the tournament.
It’s going to be exciting to see what this season’s tournament has in store. Watching the Champions League is almost like watching a play or a movie rather than a game. It’s so much greater than a normal game. The atmosphere is electric and the players bring it so much more than in their own domestic leagues. It’s no surprise that the larger clubs live for this.
- Tip of the cap to Leyton Orient for pulling out a draw and forcing a replay against Arsenal in the FA Cup.
- Goal of the week, Jonathon Tehoue (’89). http://www.footytube.com/video/fa-cup-leyton-arsenal-73772. Burned.