Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dramatic Juventus-Bayern the Lone Drama
of Today's Champions League matches

Today's post is an entirely selfish exercise. Admittedly, I just haven't been into the Champions League this year, and I'm blaming it on ESPN. Not that I miss Derek Rae or Tommy Onion Bags, but Fox Soccer just ain't doing it for me. Talk about a lifeless broadcast; there's no urgency to the games and the best matches are never shown live.

It's cut into my enjoyment of the Champions League.

OK rant over.

Now on to today's Day 6 matches, the final of the group stage:

Group A: Clearly it's all about Juve-Bayern today and it should be a cracker of a match. Bayern has to go on the road and win in Turin, or it's banished to the Europa League where Sporting Lisbon surely awaits in a rematch of last year's 12-1 Champions League debacle. Bordeaux, meanwhile, has 13 points from five games and is already through.

Group B: Manchester United are all but through and take on Wolfsburg, which is second in the table ahead of CSKA, which is reeling from a bout of suspensions and banishments. CSKA takes on Besiktas, which has something to play for: A chance at third place and a spot in the Europa League.

Group C: The match of the day here has Marseille hosting Real Madrid. Madrid has 10 points top of the group, two ahead of Milan, which travels to Zurich and figures to score a precious three points. Madrid needs at least a tie to move through. Marseille needs a lot of help to move past Madrid, starting with having to win by four goals to move on via goal differential. Or if Zurich slips past Milan and Marseille wins, it can get through that way. Which is more likely?

Group D: Nothing to see here, move on. Chelsea and Porto are through. Porto takes on Atletico Madrid while Chelsea plays Apoel, with Peter Cech already banished to the bench (I had a bet to used the word banish and/or derivatives three times in today's post). Atletico has third by a point right now and there's the only intrigue, who gets the Europa League spot -- yawn.

So much for parity and boredom. I think Michel Platini's machinations to get more smaller clubs into the competition has certainly backfired in further watering down the already tedious group stage. No one cares. Bring back the knockouts from the start of the competition. In the meantime, ring me in February when the real Champions League starts.

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