Thursday, April 26, 2007

First blood to Chelsea in Champions League semi final - but what a poor advert for English football...

On Tuesday night football fans around Europe were transfixed by the events at Old Trafford as United and Milan fought out a proper blood and thunder style Champions League semi-final, in a match that had a bit of everything. There was great individual skills from Kaka, Ronaldo, Scholes and Rooney. Milan showed how to retain possession of the ball for large chunks of the game and of course there was five great goals to salivate over. It was a proverbial football feast.

On Wednesday morning many fans were hungry for more, Uefa's new CEO Michel Platini said that the United v Milan game was a great advert for the Champions League and European football, the former European footballer of the year went even further by adding that this game made him feel proud to be apart of Uefa.

So it was with eager anticipation that fans around Europe tuned in to see the all English semi final between Chelsea and Liverpool. What we got was an awful game by comparison to what had happened the night before. Chelsea were by far the better team, of that there can be no doubt. However, much of the Blue's play starts off with a long punt onto the head of Didier Drogba, who then flicks the ball onto the likes of the brilliant Joe Cole and Frank Lampard. It is very effective, because Drogba is brilliant, he is built like a brick-shithouse, defenders cannot handle him and last night was no different as neither of Liverpool's centrebacks got any measure of control of the big man from the Ivory Coast. The only goal of the game was in sharp contrast to the general pattern of the game. Drogba ran wide right onto a great ball from Carvalho, and when the big man cut the ball back he found the onrushing Joe Cole who scored what was a very good goal. That move was the main highlight of the night, though Chelsea did create some good chances.

For their part Liverpool were very, very disappointing and on the evidence of last night they'll really struggle to turn this tie around. On Thursday morning Michel Platini reportedly said "I always knew English football was shite"...

Seriously you do not always get great games at this stage of the Champions League, and of course part of what made the United v Milan game a great spectacle was the Reds rank bad defending - that was never going to happen in the second game... So perhaps on reflection, we'd been a bit spoilt at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. But if we could choose the type of football we'd like to see then there is no comparison between the first two legs of the Champions League semi finals. If Carlsberg was a football team - it surely wouldn't be Liverpool - but ironically it is....

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