Well, it's been a couple of weeks. My apologies for absence. Work is nuts, my wife is preggo and throwing up all over the place, and the first two weeks of what is turning into a ridiculous Chicago baseball season have gotten the better of my attention.
I usually like to do a week in review type thing but two weeks is just to much to review in one sitting, so I give you,
NICKY'S UEFA TOP 10
It's been since AC Milan in 1989-1990 that we've had back to back Champions League winners, but it will be a huge upset if that doesn't change this year. Of the 4 semifinalists, Barca is easily the best of the bunch. They destroyed Arsenal 4-1 in the second leg of their quarterfinal, and a couple weeks later completed the sweep of Real Madrid in La Liga with a 2-0 road win in "El Clasico". A hiccup last week though in the Barcelona Derby, as middle of the table Espanyol held them to a 0-0 draw, which shrunk their La Liga lead to just 1 point. They'll try and put the down to the wire domestic league race out of their minds when they travel to Milan to take on Mourinho and Inter today.
2. Bayern Munich
Bizarre as it is to say a German team is better than any English team, here we are. Bayern proved it by knocking Man U out of the Champions League. They should be favored in their semifinal against Lyon, which earn them the right to play the role of the New England Patriots versus the 1985 Bears against Barcelona in the final. They've had some struggles in the Bundesliga of late though. March saw them get just 4 points out of a possible 12, with losses to Frankfurt and Stuttgart. I guess they can use the excuse they were focused on the Champions League. They still hold a 2 point lead over Schalke with 3 matches left, so if they keep it together they will win the Bundesliga in a year that the German league has gained a lot of Euro cred.
Jose Mourinho is a very clever cat. His team is struggling to nail down its annual Scudetto, with AS Roma proving to be quite the sticky wicket, so what does he do? He makes the statement that he doesn't like Italian football and it doesn't like him, meaning "I don't give a shit about winning Serie A, I plan on winning the Champions League, so all you Guidos can stick your Scudetto up your ass, then I'm out of here and saving Liverpool." We'll see how that works out. I personally don't think he stands a chance against Barca, but he's the Special One so let's see if he proves me wrong.
The EPL has no teams in the Champions League semifinals, but I don't think anyone can make a reasonable argument that it isn't the best league in the world. In fact, maybe the rigors of the Premier League is part of the reason there are no teams in the Champions League semis. I mean, Lyon has looked great in the Champions League, but they are tied for third in the French league, 9 points back, and could conceivably finish as low as 6th. Chelsea may be long gone from international play, but sorry, being 1st in the Premier League still counts for alot, and if they can hold on and TCB in the FA Cup final against the true Cinderella club Portsmouth, it should still be considered a very successful season.
5. Man U
Again, I think a lot of what I said about Chelsea applies to Man U. I realize they are out of the Champions League, but would they be out if Wayne Rooney was healthy? Probably not. Still, he's not healthy and injuries are a part of the game so there you go. This team has a lot of heart though, and a lot of talent. They continue to battle hard, and just when you think things were falling apart after they got bounced from the CL by Bayern, lost the showdown at Old Trafford with Chelsea, and followed that up with a frustrating 0-0 draw at Rovers, they pull out a gutty win in injury time against upstart Man City at the Eastlands. In a year when a few big clubs have embarrassed themselves (Liverpool, Juve), Man U continues to be Man U.
I've tooted the French horn all year long, and now one of them gets to the Final 4 and I disrespect them by saying they are the 6th best team in Europe? Well, they got there by beating another French team, Bordeaux, who happens to be completely disintegrating in the late part of the season, so really I don't know what that tells me, and in the Round of 16 they beat Real Madrid who have made a tradition out of losing in the Round of 16, and on top of that they have no hope of winning Ligue 1 and are in serious danger of not even qualifying for next year's Champions League, sooo.
7. AS Roma
In terms of talent this isn't one of the top 10 teams in Europe, but they must be acknowledged for their performance this season in Serie A. They've overtaken Inter for first place, leading by a point, and they haven't lost a match in Serie A since November. And if that doesn't impress you, check out this fan brawl during their win over Roma rivals Lazio last weekend! Those crazy greaseballs! Ey shaddaupa you face! Ba da ba boo pee!
8. REAL MADRID
Well now they have some hope of actually salvaging something out of this really disappointing season. They can thank Espanyol Barcelona for that. The previously mentioned scoreless draw they played Barca to last weekend opened the door for Real to entertain thoughts of winning La Liga. They seem like they are motivated, they took are of 3rd place Valencia 2-0 last weekend. Barca still has to travel to Sevilla and Villarreal, where it's very possible they could drop some points, and if the Champions League takes some starch out of them too, well, Real could sneak in and take La Liga. They're still soft as Kool Whip though and the only league I'd pick them to win is a pillow fight league where the only two teams are them and Arsenal.
I think Robespierre was the last time anything has terrorized France like Olympique Marseille has in the last month and a half. 18 points in their last 6 matches has vaulted them to what seems like an insurmountable 5 point lead in Ligue 1. This will probably be Marseille's first Ligue 1 title since 1992-93. They were stripped of that title though due to match fixing and bankruptcy and rampant sodomy, so technically it's been even longer than that.
Congratulations! You win nothing!
Meanwhile, here in the land of the free, we will take time out from organizing our militias to enjoy the NFL draft this week. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford will probably be the number one pick despite having a horrible season last year, so hmmm, not so excited about that. I am interested to see where CJ Spiller ends up though because I promise you when the Fantasy Draft rolls around in August, I will make him mine. I plan on doing a live draft blog on Thursday night if everything plays out the way I hope it does, so look for that.
- Jerry Jones is pretty much my new hero for his drunken cutting down to size of master motivator and prickly fat man Bill Parcells.
- Speaking of Parcells, I think he is still kind of in charge of the Miami franchise right? Well, they made some noise by taking the Broncos best player off their hands, acquiring Brandon Marshall for a second round pick this year and a second round pick next year. This is a trade that seems to be bad for both teams. Denver loses the only player on their offense worth a poop, and Miami is going to have to deal with Marshall trying to exist in Miami's goofy 1930's offense, which I'm sure he's going to luuvvvvvvvvvvvv.
Okay then that's it. Enjoy the Champions League semis today! I'll recap tomorrow. Promise.