Luck Of The Draw
March 18, 2012 in Europe
Fantastic, a draw all of us neutral fans wanted, with the semi finals potentially consisting of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid; a mouth-watering setup to say the least. But, it isn’t that simple though, is it? With the usual knock-out-phase suspects of Inter Milan, Manchester United and Lyon inactive at home, we are left to look for another surprise from the newcomers towards the nail biting end of another epic European tournament.
AC Milan, Marseille and APOEL are left remaining; three teams everyone would of been suprised to see in the last eight of the competition. Marseille sit ninth in Ligue 1, already having lost nine league games this campaign. Milan sit top of Serie A, with only four losses and APOEL consistently do well in the Cypriot First Division, and are still in with a shout of European glory. Another surprise team still in the competition are Benfica. However, with the Portuguese club domination of the Europa League last season, the surprise is debatable.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are through as expected, with large aggregate wins in the previous round of the competition. Chelsea pulled off a remarkable turnaround, beating Napoli 4-1 to proceed through to the quarter finals to face Benfica. The other remaining team, Bayern Munich, are currently on fire in the Bundesliga. They’re picking their form up at the right time and could be serious challengers, beating Hoffenheim 7-1 and Hertha Berlin 6-0 the game after.
The failure of English clubs in Europe this season could be a blessing in disguise for the national team. This applies especially to names such as Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, having arguably been burnt out going into previous national tournaments, but this time round England’s star players could be fresher than ever. Also, a final consisting of Barcelona and Real Madrid is on the cards, something that won’t please Vicente Del Bosque and Spain’s Euro chances in the slightest. However, for me, this is a win-win situation. I get to watch the best teams in Europe battle it out for a final Champions League spot, while knowing that most of England’s star players aren’t potentially getting injured for the Euros.
Football is entertainment, and entertainment is what we’ll get. Benfica play Chelsea, Madrid play APOEL, Barca play AC Milan whilst Bayern play Marseille. Each tie has a clear favourite, but don’t we all love a true underdog story?