Thursday, March 8, 2007

Damn, At Least I'm Not A Celtic Supporter

Going out of the CL is always a bummer. As I said, going out on a late goal against the run of play from a team that you dominated is even worse. This happening within a week of the exact same thing dumping you out of the FA Cup adds to the suckitude, and then throw in the come from ahead to lose 1-2 to a late Drogba goal in the Carling Cup Final, all within 10 days, and there will be a tear in your beer for sure {2 country song references in 2 days - I have no idea either, so don't ask}.

But when any team you really love loses an important competition, once you go through the anger, depression, and feeling sorry for yourself stages, you look around for teams that have experienced heartbreak on a grander scale, because it makes you feel a little better that as bad as it was, it wasn't as bad as the experience another group of fans just went through.

Which brings us to Celtic.

AC Milan 1-0 Celtic AET.
Aggregate: AC Milan 1-0 Celtic
Never won an away game in the Champions League, and lost 11 of their last 12 outright. A giant of Scottish football but eternal plucky underdog outsider in Europe against the big boys, and a bit of a recent history of heartbreak. Managed a 0-0 at home against aging Italian giants Milan so don't even need a road win to go through- a scoring draw will get it done.

I don't care that Milan had the better of it and outshot Celtic 23-4: Watch this highlight video.
Talk about a kick in the nuts. Not 1 but 2 clear penalties not seen or given by the referee, either one of which, if, converted, would have required AC Milan to score 2 goals. Then, after holding them scoreless for over 180 minutes, a Kaka moment of brilliance, aided by the Celtic keeper's inability to stop the ball from going between his legs, rips your heart out yet again and sends you home stunned and sick to your stomach, just like Eddie after losing the card came to Harry in Lock Stock...

Oh, and how stunning that AC Milan don't have those blatant penalties called against them in their home stadium in the biggest match of their season in the only competition that they are still alive in. Makes you wonder if all of that scandal, cheating, and fixing the Italians are famous for has been cleaned up after all.

This just makes me more and more confident in my August prediction that AC Milan will win the Champions League this year after being allowed to participate upon appeal when they have no business being in the competition at all.

Bayern Munich 2-1 Real Madrid
Aggregate: Bayern Munich 4-4 Real Madrid. Bayern Munich advance on away goals.
What a barnburner - I am truly sorry that I couldn't take a 4 hour lunch and watch this replay at 2 p.m. Speaking of which, as the best matchup on paper by a mile yesterday, why they hell wasn't this match on ESPN2 live? ManU-Lille was never going to be anything but a ManU victory, but they are still the biggest 'name' and 'draw' in the US I suppose, and perhaps that fact that they are now owned my an American billionaire adds to the idea that they should be shown. Frustrating. Sidenote - Arsenal's Gilberto was stripped of his 'fastest goal in Champions League history' title when Roy Makaay scored an amazing 11 seconds into the match.

Anyhow, a super tough way to go out for Madrid fans as well: 1) going out on away goals rule is always the worst, because you didn't really lose 2) down 4-3 and needing 2 goals in the last few minutes, they got one and then amazingly scored a would be winner in extra time for a miracle victory, but Ramos was judged to handle the ball before he shot it. At least the referee got it right, unlike in Milan...

Arsenal 1-1 PSV Eindhoven
Aggregate: PSV 2-1 Arsenal
Already covered this, but can only add that it is a shame that all of the highlights and replays fail to show Hleb's insanely stupid foul next to the corner flag that resulted in PSV's goal. All they show is the free kick and the goal, but out of context you cannot appreciate how fucking dumb is was to concede in that situation. Dude just standing next to the corner flag with the ball, wasting time, totally out of ideas, and Hleb throws him to the ground. I thought to myself "what an idiot - that is the only way they could score in this match". 10 seconds after the goal I received a text message from Solon that pretty much summed it up:

"Hleb is a fucking moron".

I have some thoughts on Arsenal 3.0 in general that I hope to flush out here soon. If there is one silver lining for me it would be at least we lost 1-2: at the end of the day you can look at the scoreboard and it doesn't lie - we lost. Much less of a mindfuck than being dumped out of the biggest competition in world club football when you didn't really lose but rather tied and got tossed out on an arbitrary rule {not saying the rule should be changed just that it is hard to reconcile losing as a fan when you didn't really lose}.

Manchester United 1-0 Lille
Aggregate: Manchester United 2-0 Lille.
As expected. Not much else to say. This match {and it's audio} was on 1/2 the screens in the pub so I sort of followed it in bits and pieces by osmosis, the whole time being bitter at ESPN for not showing the obvious match of the day, Bayern Munich-Real Madrid.

A tough week for most footy fans around these parts:

Kanu, Solon: Arsenal, out.
Moin: Real Madrid, out.
A10: Inter, out.
Braves&BirdsMichael, Kanu: Barcelona, out.

DCTrojan and Thistle71 are Scotsmen, but I don't know if they support or hate Celtic, so that could be the one bright spot if they hate Celtic I suppose.

Again, your quarterfinalists are:

AC Milan (Italy)
AS Roma (Italy)
Bayern Munich (Germany)
Chel$ea (England)
Liverpool (England)
Manchester United (England)
PSV Eindhoven (Holland)
Valencia (Spain)

Who the hell am I supposed to pull for now?

I have varying degrees of dislike for every team on this list except Liverpool, who I am basically neutral about. In order of degree of dislike: ManUtd (hate), Chel$ea (hate), Roma (racist fascist fans), Milan (dislike/disgust), Valencia (racist fans), PSV (racist fans), Bayern Munich (never hated but never really liked, as they are the Yankees of Germany).

I guess I just need to hope that those near the top of this list do not win, especially Chel$ea. ManUtd have already won the Champions League, and there is nothing that will ever change that, but I always will hope that Chel$ea fail to buy the CL like they have bought their first premiership titles since the 50s {same thing but to a lesser extent with regard to the FA Cup}. So here's to them drawing ManUtd in the quarterfinals thus ensuring that one is knocked out.


moin said...

I thought the 2nd Celtic PK appeal isn't nearly as clear cut as the first one. Second one is definitely a judgement call as I feel Nakamura suddenly veered to his left and ran into the defender and fell down looking for a PK. But I've seen it given for less.

If you need a reason to hate Bayern. Know that their fans are probably the most racist of the big Euro clubs. (On the plus side, they play more charity and benefit matches than any other club in Europe.)

Oh, the Bayern-RM match was broadcasted on ESPN Classic. It doesn't make sense to me either. But I'm not about to whine about ESPN when even 2 years ago we only get one game out of 8, now we get 4 out of 8. (Who says Beckham doesn't make a difference, eh?)

Kanu said...

Agreed that the 2nd was not as clear cut, but I think you would agree that one it is given more often than not. And the first one was so obvious that there really is no excuse, especially for the linesman.

Interesting. I don't know much about the German clubs as far as socio-economic-political tendencies - I really need to get my hands on Tor! and read it just for the background info.

Yes I knew it was on classic at 2 p.m., but I couldn't take a 4.5 hour lunch, so I was just bitter that is wasn't the ESPN2 match, since they have 1st choice and chose ManUtd.

As much as I hate ESPN, I agree with you that their expanded CL coverage has been a wonderful thing, especially the addition of a 2nd game in same day delay on Classic each match day. They also bought the rights to Euro2008 and are showing every match, which kicks ass- -way better than seeking out a pub with closed circuit satellite coverage at $20 a day.

Kanu said...

Think of that 2nd penalty claim this way: if Nakamura was wearing a red & black shirt, and the defender had green & white hoops on, there is not an iota of doubt that a penalty would have been given there.

DC Trojan said...

Not at all sorry about Celtic going out.

As for the remaining teams, I'm going with my usual "don't mention the war" litmus test for the mainland European teams, which means Bayern (had Jewish and socialist fans before WWII) and Roma (since Lazio was sponsored by Mussolini and their fans are actual fascists, as opposed to working class bigots.)

I actually enjoy watching ManU beat other English teams, so I'm down with them knocking out Chelsea or winning the whole thing.