Friday, April 28, 2006

Middelsborough's amazing comeback

Middlesborough is in the UEFA Cup final, after an incredible comeback against Steua Bucharest. Having lost 1-0, the English went down 0-2 at home against the Romanians. But with four goals, the last one in the very last minute of the match, they made their amazing comeback to get to the final.
They will be facing Sevilla, who defeated Schalke 04 in a close match. I would say Sevilla is slight favourite, but should certainly not feel they have a comfortable lead!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A dream final

It will be a dream-final we will be witness to from Paris on May 17th. Arsenal-FC Barcelona.
Both teams made it after a 0-0. Arsenal was the luckiest one, playing a very risky and dull game in defence against Villarreal, who should have scored at least one. But a marvelous Lehmann saved the Gunners, who will be playing their first CL final ever.
For Barcelona, it will be their first final in 12 years. The Catalans have been impressive this season. Their play is offensive and entertaining, and they are heading straight towards a Spanish championship as well.
I think Barcelona will carry the trophy away, although anything can happen. Only sure thing is that the final in Paris will be a nail-biter, although one can hardly expect anything like the epic legend of last season's final. In any case, the great players of both teams will give us a great show. And the fans will hopefully behave!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Semifinal in Johannesburg

I arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, late Tuesday evening. After checking in to my hotel in the posh neighborhood of Melville and a delicious steak, I found a place that was showing the AC Milan-Barcelona Champions League 1st leg semifinal.
Now I understand that South Africa is not qualified for the world cup, and I hope interest may be higher when they will host in 2010: the whole place was full of people, but I was the only one watching! (on the positive side, I must mention that I was served by a gorgeous and smiling waitress).
And this is not because the game was bad! Barcelona is beginning to seal its position as the team of the moment in the world. Winning 0-1 in Milano, on a goal by Frenchman Ludovic Giuly, is no small feat, even for Barcelona. The Catalans now surely have a leg in the semifinal, and should be heading for glory.
On the other match, Arsenal won a narrow 1-0 against Villarreal in London. The second game in Spain will be a nail-biting encounter.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Champions League 2005-2006 semifinals

The result from last night's CL quarterfinals were quite predictable: Barcelona won 2-0 at home against Benfica, on beautiful strikes by Ronaldinho and Eto'o, while Arsenal defended well their 2-0 lead against an inefficiant Juventus side.

The semifinals are now as follows:

A clash of giants, although Barcelona has been the most impressive this season. However, AC Milan have the routine and skills to upset the Catalonians. It will be two tight matches!

Neither team has been so far in the Champions League before. Particularly Arsenal should be hungry for finally having some European glory. Villarreal are "the small ones" in every sense of the word, and Arsenal are likely to think they are in the final already. I have no problem admitting that my unconditional support is with the Spaniards.

But the best of luck to all fans of these great teams!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Historic Villarreal

Villarreal is in the semifinal of the Champions League! This is a historic event for the Valencian team, since it is the first time this small town outside of Castellon has made it to the tournament. And this time they did it by getting the scalp of Inter Milan, whom they defeated 1-0 to progress on aggregate.

Here, I must mention my team in the UEFA CL Fantasy Football ("Football Fanatics"), where I have last night's lone scorer, Arruabarrena, on the defense: the Villarreal captain has proven one of the strongest defenders of the league and is giving me a lot of points.

It will be interesting to see Villarreal in the next round. Everything can happen from now on, so could we end seeing Villarreal go all the way....?

The other Milanese team, AC Milan, had serious difficulties defeating a well-playing Olympique Lyon. However, with 2 goals in the dying minutes of the match, the Italians managed to progress to the semifinal. A pity for Olympique Lyon, whose exit is yet again in the quarterfinals.