Mar 5, 2008

The Wednesday Wrap: Gunners Grand In CL As English Teams March On

Arsenal pulled off a huge coup at the San Siro yesterday, notching two late goals to oust AC Milan from the Champions League. Gunners were at a disadvantage going into the game, with the teams having played a scoreless first leg at Emirates. But Arsene Wenger's side outplayed their Italian opponents a fortnight ago and they did so again today. Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor (on a brilliant assist by Theo Walcott) scored for the visitors. It was a very strong effort by Gunners after a pair of subpar performances in the Premiership (ties with the Birmingham clubs on back-to-back weekends). As for Milan, the defending champs never really found their form this season after a disastrous start and this was the logical outcome. Yes, they won the Club World Championship, but does anybody outside Northern Italy and wherever it is that Berlusconi is holed up truly believe this is the best team in the world? Hard to fathom. (To get a more realistic idea of who might actually be able to claim that honor, scroll down to the latest Top 25 standings or click here if you're too inpatient). But let's not diminish Arse's efforts. Few teams win at San Siro--fewer still in European competition. Actually, Arsenal are the first English club to have ever pulled off the feat.

Man United's victory over Lyon was no real surprise but how about Fenerbahce's comeback against Sevilla? Fener were themselves in less than perfect poor form domestically and saw their Top 25 ranking fall from a peak of ninth on Feb. 11 to 17th this week. But this was still much better than Sevilla, who haven't made the Top 25 at all in recent memory (if they ever did). This caused me to pick Fener to advance in my fearless forecast of the Round of 16. I was nervous for a while that this wouldn't come to fruition and indeed it nearly didn't. But Zico's men didn't give up and vindicated my faith in them. Oh yeah Barca won too. Big surprise. This makes Soccer Source three-for-four in yesterday's matches. As for tomorrow's, uh, let's not go there.

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