Champions League

Well, the first knockout round of the UEFA Champion's League is in the books. There were certainly some surprises, but the song remained the same for some clubs. Let's have a look:

Roma defeats Lyon 2-0 in France. That was a surprise. Francesco Totti scored first with a powerful header into the net, and then Mancini, the midfielder and Brazilian international, performed some Crisitano Ronaldo-esque footwork to completely fake out the Lyon defender and score the proverbial nail in the coffin. What was not a surprise was that Lyon, whom I thought had a chance to go all the way this year, came up short yet again... just like Arsenal vs. PSV Eindhoven. Arsenal scored first blood in this match and looked like they were going to redeem themselves from a lackluster performance at Eindhoven, but PSV scored the clincher to move ahead on a 2-1 aggregate.

Arsene Wenger's squad will have to cry about having no trophys this year as they are a distant 4th in the Premiership regular season title chase, were knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackburn 2 weeks ago, lost to Chelsea in the Carling Cup final, and recently were eliminated from the Champions' League by PSV. Misery.

The best match of the week would have to be Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Madrid, playing without Italian superstar Fabio Cannavaro and Hollywood David Beckham, went into Germany with a 3-2 lead from a dogfight in the first leg. Madrid were lost for most of the first half, and went into the locker room with a 1-0 deficit, enough to put Munich ahead to the next round. Munich added another goal with a set piece scorhing header by Mark van Bommell in the second.

Madrid had a lifeline when a bad penalty call put Ruud van Nistelrooy in a position to score a gimme and put the aggregate at 4-4. No further spark from Madrid late in the game kept the aggregate at 4-4, and allowed Bayern Munich to move to the next round on away goals.

Two matches to keep an eye on for the next round: the first is Chelsea vs.
the only Spanish club left in the tournament, Valencia. We'll see if Jose Mourinho's squad can dispatch of Valencia like they did with Porto. Also, Roma vs. ManU will be a good one, as Roma should be riding high off of the upset of the favorites, Lyon. ManU, of course, has a potent offense and a great defense, and will make life difficult for Totti and company.

I still favor ManU to take the whole thing this year. Chelsea is still in good position, and Bayern Munich, if they keep scoring goals like they did against Real Madrid, they certainly look good as well. My dark horse is PSV Eindhoven, who are playing very well as a team of late, and could be in this thing to shock some of the giants. I like PSV's chances against Liverpool in the next round.

-Christopher J. Brigham