United OUT!

For those interested in Champions League (which is how I got interested in this damned sport to begin with), the big news is that Manchester United– one of the biggest (and most loved/hated) clubs in the world, is out of the competition. Indeed, the loss “meant United, who threw away an early lead achieved through Paul Scholes, failed to advance from the group stage for the first time in ten years, and by finishing bottom of Group D have not even a UEFA Cup place for consolation.” Too bad for them.

Other big news? For the first time ever, a Scottish side has made it to the “knockout rounds” (or, as we say in the States, the Sweet Sixteen).

The standings show quite an interesting mix. The English (Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal), Italians (Inter, Juve, Milan), and Spain (Real, Villareal, Barcelona) lead with 3 sides each, while Germany (Bremen, Baynern), and the Netherlands (PSV, Ajax) have two each. France (Lyon), Portugal (Benficia), and Scotland (Rangers) have one each.

Though I’m perhaps a bit biased, I’d say there’s a good chance an Italian side will make it to the finals– Juve and Milan are both really good, and Inter’s playing well, too. Chelsea’s good, of course, and they’re running away with the Premiership. I don’t know much about the rest of Europe, but it doesn’t seem like Real is as good as they were five years ago, but who knows? Last year, I wouldn’t have thought Liverpool stood a chance of making it to the finals. And I especially didn’t think they had a chance to win the whole thing down three goals to Milan! So really, anything can happen…

Edited to put in the CL link!

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7 thoughts on “United OUT!

  1. I think Barcelona, Juve, and Chelsea go into the knockout stage as favourites. Real is a club in disarray (much liked Man Utd) and I disagree that Milan are really good. There defence is shipping goals far too easily. Your right though when you say anything can happen – that’s the nature of a knockout, though the two legged format lessens the chances. If I were a gambling man I would put some money on Juventus, with Mutu scoring a winning goal against Chelsea at some point.

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  2. Yeah– Milan aren’t as strong as they have been in recent years. Still, they’re in second in Serie A (their showdown with Inter should be fun), and while I don’t think they’ll catch Juve, the second half of the season in Italy should be interesting. What I really hope is that Fiorentina stay in the top 4 and go to Champions League next year!

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  3. Lancer, do you get to see much Italian football? I’ve seen a few highlights lately and can’t believe the size of the crowds. When I watched Italian football on a fairly regular basis back in the 90’s every game looked like a sell out. Now it seems that even Juventus and Milan are playing to empty stands. I wonder if something similar might happen in England. Ticket prices are way to high and I predict the Premiership bubble may be about to burst.

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  4. Unfortunately, about the only European stuff I get to see is Champions league and day-old Premiership stuff. < HREF="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/world/italian-summaries.htm" REL="nofollow">this<> from <>USA Today<> gives attendance from a few games played last month. Pretty low, indeed. For instance:Juventus 3, Livorno 0Juventus: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (59), David Trezeguet (60), Alessandro Del Piero (90).Halftime: 0-0.Attendance: 28,000.Messina 0, AS Roma 2Roma: Philippe Mexes (34), Francesco Totti (81).Halftime: 0-1.Attendance: 32,000.The best club in Italy draws just 28,000? And the side from the biggest city in Italy (and one of the biggest in Europe) gets just over 30,000? Granted, Milan drew over 50,000, but still– that is interesting…

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  5. According to < HREF="http://www.worldstadiums.com/europe/countries/italy/sicilia.shtml" REL="nofollow">this<>, Messina only holds 43,000. 30,000 is pretty good for Sicily. Besides, it’s winter. You couldn’t pay me enough to sit outside in Torino for 90 minutes in December. That 28,000 did is a testament to Juve.

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  6. I don’t want to bumb down Stu’d latest post, so I’ll do some soccer stuff here (but a WC post will be here in the next few days). First off, Inter finally WON against Milan!!! Yipee!Second, I noticed that over in < HREF="http://soccernet.espn.go.com/tables?league=sco.1&cc=5901" REL="nofollow">Scotland<>, Celtic are leading. But where are the Rangers? Not second– not even <>third<>! They’re in 4th, 14 points behind second place. I don’t follow SPL much, but is this unusual for a team <>not<> from the Old Firm to be in second place at the half-way mark? It’s particularly odd given that the Rangers made it into the final 16 of Champions League!And finally, not too < HREF="http://soccernet.espn.go.com/report?id=186514&cc=5901" REL="nofollow">shabby<>, Toffees (or is it just <>Toffee<>?)!

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  7. Hearts are my team (well, the team I have chosen to adopt). They’ve been in the lead until just recently when evil Celtic finally caught up. I just hope they can hold on for the rest of the season.

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