Sep 16, 2008

The Wednesday Wrap: Roma embarrassed, Chelsea impressive, Liverpool lucky (again)

The title of this post tells you everything you need to know about today's UEFA Champions League games. Give or take a few minor details.

The biggest news first: Mighty AS Roma, who last season were a few points from winning Serie A (and returned with largely the same lineup) lost against a team called CFR Cluj from present day Romania. Don't ask us how to pronounce CFR Cluj; we don't know and frankly, don't care. The point is they had absolutely no business defeating Roma, least of all on their home turf. But that's exactly what happened today. The Romanian side won 2-1 on a brace by Culio, which we hope does not mean what we think it means in Romanian (it's a Romance language, after all). We've seen some Champions League upsets in our time, but this one may very well be the biggest yet. Cluj aren't even good in the Romanian league! (They're eighth in the 18-team Divizia Nationala A). Anyway, Roma are in a state of abject crisis over this and rightfully so. Today's embarrassment follows a 3-1 loss to Palermo last weekend and a 1-1 tie with Napoli in their first Serie A game. Despite all this, the rossoneri are 13th in this week's Top 25 but rest assured they will not live to see the next edition--regardless of how they do this weekend against Reggina Calcio.

In the other game in Group A, Chelsea beat up on a team that is much better than CFR Cluj. Granted, Bordeaux do not exactly bring to mind the 1970 Brazil team, but at least most people have heard of them. Who knows what is going to happen in this group. You've basically got Chelsea and a bunch of scrubs, from what it looks like. And to think: we ranked two groups easier than this one?

Moving on, Liverpool once again got lucky in securing three vital points at Marseille. Give them this though: Stevie G's goal was gorgeous. But the class of that group (and indeed, perhaps even the continent before all is said and done) is Atletico Madrid, 3-0 winners at PSV Eindhoven today (and frankly, it didn't even look that close). Soccer Source has been singing this team's praises for some time and this certainly vindicates us. Going in, we thought this group would be the most difficult of the eight. Now, it looks like it will be a cakewalk for Atletico. PSV looked listless and neither Marseille nor Liverpool impressed. But we know this about Liverpool: they play up (or down) to the level of their competition. Expect them to qualify out of this group and once again do some damage against a team nobody thought they could hang with.

Speaking of which, another mini upset occurred in Northern Germany, where Werder Bremen played Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta to a scoreless tie. Barcelona won one of this round's marquee games, against fellow Top 25 club Sporting Lisbon, though it wasn't pretty. The 3-1 result flatters Barca, who got a phantom penalty called in their favor in the first half. At least they got their first win of the season out of the way. And Shakhtar Donetsk, who have been in the Top 25 all season, won at FC Basle. Which is fine and good (and something Liverpool was unable to pull off a few seasons ago) until you remember that the Swiss national team lost to Luxembourg (yes, Luxembourg) last week.

A slew of games on tap for tomorrow, at least three of which warrant our attention: Villareal at Man United, Fiorentina at Lyon and Juventus at Zenit St. Petersburg. All Top 25 clubs. The results of these games should at least give us an indication of each team's potential this season.


  1. Incredibly arrogant post...

    You are out from my RSS reader!

  2. Liverpool continues to impress this season defeating Man U 4-1.