Apr 7, 2010

Props to Bayern but the Premiership is still the best league in the world

Bayern Munich showed remarkable resilience today coming back from a 3-0 deficit at Old Trafford to advance to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. In fact, one could almost say Bayern today slayed the ghosts of the 1999 final at Camp Nou. Well, maybe not. But you've got to give the German club credit for pulling it off.

As a Yank, I generally don't like standing up for anything English. Or anything German. Or anything, well un-American. As we know they're all communists and commies simply can't be trusted. But U.S. hegemony does have its limits in a few areas and association football, a.k.a. soccer, is one (another might be door handles. What's with these stupid round things we have here? I mean seriously. Wouldn't it just be easier to make them a lever the way they do elsewhere in the world? It's such a pain in the arse when you're carrying something and have to reach down and twist this stupid thing instead of just being able to lean on it and presto!)

Anyway, the English Premier League is still the best league in the world even though none of its teams are in the Champions League's final four. Here's why:

1. Had Wayne Rooney been healthy there's no way Man United lose this game and

2. The elimination round draws did English clubs no favors whatsoever.

Arsenal, arguably the worst of three English teams in the elimination round, were drawn with the best club in the entire world in the quarterfinals. Chelsea were drawn with a top five side in the round of 16. Man United got AC Milan in the round of 16, who may not be Barcelona but they sure aren't VfB Stuttgart either (whom Barcelona drew). In fact, the draws were a bit of a joke in retrospect. CSKA Moscow vs. Sevilla? Bayern and Fiorentina? Olympiakos vs. Bordeaux? There can really be no argument that English clubs got the short end of the stick here.

Of course, that's life. A random draw is a random draw (unless it's conducted by FIFA, that is). Sometimes the chips fall in your favor, sometimes they do not. But when they don't and you're tasked with playing grueling two-leg matchups against top clubs along with a domestic campaign in the world's toughest league it wears on you. Injuries happen (see Rooney, Wayne). You let your guard down. Especially when, for example, you have a 3-0 lead minutes before halftime.

Again that's not to make excuses for tonight's events at Old Trafford. Bayern were the better team over two legs and deserved to advance. As a matter of fact, if you look at the two teams' top 25 rankings going into this match-up, you'll see that they were not really far apart at all. Bayern was 7, Man U at 2 (the previous week they were even closer together at 5 and 3, respectively). So it really isn't that big of an upset. Especially not once the higher-rated team's best player is removed from the equation.

So as far as I'm concerned the Premiership still reigns. It will take a lot more for me to change my mind on this.

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