Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blackburn 2 Man City 0

One thing before I get to the real news...
I was reading a column by Hal's friend, the HSG, as I am sometimes wont to do, because some of his insights are still actually humorous. In the beginning of one of his columns, he made a reference to some woman of whom I had never heard. At first, I thought he was talking about a dental student that I had taught when I was at Tufts, but not so. I made the mistake of Googling her name, and found that she was some American Idol wastoid.

Lesson one, if you don't get an HSG reference, let it be.

* * *

The Blackburn Rovers furthered their quest for FA Cup victory on Sunday by defeating the struggling Citizens of Manchester. Stuart Pearce's side had chances, but were unable to capitalize, and thus their memorable FA Cup run comes to an end, leaving speculation of Pearce's job security in its wake.

Aaron Mokoena, the South African international defender scored first in the first half to give the Rovers the 1-0 cushion, which would turn out to be all they needed to stop City. Things got tense in the 69th minute when Mokoena was sent off for accumulating 2 yellow cards, and the Rovers had to finish the match with 10 men. Luckily, 10 men was all that was needed to beat Man City, and Matt Derbyshire emphasized that point with a second goal in stoppage time. Blackburn are through to the semifinals in FA Cup competition and deservedly so, as they are playing their best football right now. Like last season, they are peaking at the right time, and look to make another run at European competition. Blackburn will face either Chelsea or Tottenham next round.

-Christopher J. Brigham

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

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