Thursday, October 22, 2009

Anyone who's been reading this blog for a while will know that I'm no fan of the European Champions League.

Maybe it's the smalltime fan in me, but the same teams from the same countries qualifying year after year bores me rigid. I won't even go down that whole four teams from the one country and the "it's not like the proper European Cup" routes again.

The group stages in particular are usually like watching a murder mystery film with a telegraphed ending. Barring the (very) odd shock, you can pretty much predict the outcome of the groups. The top two may not be placed as you expected at times, but it's usually the right top two.

Add to that the actual enjoyment level on display in these group games and it's not regular viewing at AFTN Towers.

I have to admit to having caught very little of this season's competition so far. I've just been unable to muster the enthusiasm to sit down and watch it. I've caught the odd few minutes of different games here and there and had others on in the background, often with the sound down. A token look at the results of the UK teams and a general laugh at the expense of Rangers has been about it really.

I found myself at a bit of a loose end during last night's games though and after a bit of channel flicking, thought I may as well give a game a try. With Chelsea and Man United's opponents not setting the heart all a flutter I decided to go with the Real Madrid-AC Milan game and what a fantastic decision that turned out to be!

I tuned in for the second half and with Real leading 1-0 and the commentators explaining how dire the game had been so far it didn't look promising, but what an explosive last 25 minutes we had in store.

Goals, a shock defeat for the big spending Spaniards at home, some horrendous defending, some even more horrendous goalkeeping, some dreadful refereeing and a stramash. Now THAT'S what I want from my Champions League matches.

I saw more passion, more desire, more commitment and more action in those 25 minutes than most of the Champions League group games I watched last year combined. It was a great advert for the game and showed you just how European matches should be played between the big teams.

It's games like this that have been missing from the competition since they went for these ridiculous group matches. Looking at the current tables, the last two round of games in some groups are going to be going through the motions once again. At least Bordeaux have put the cat amongst the pigeons in Group A and should have Juventus or Bayern Munich worried about missing out on advancing.

If I could be guaranteed more games like the Real-Milan one, then you'd have a convert for life here and an advocate for the competition. Sadly I feel that if I tune in next time, I'm only destined to be disappointed.

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