Champions League


Its been a while since I posted about Soccer, after tonight's results, I felt the urge to get something down. Manchester United were knocked out by Bayern Munich. Last night Barcelona thumped Arsenal and sent them on their way, tail between their legs. Liverpool were thoroughly beaten by Lyon weeks ago and Inter Milan thumped Chelsea and showed them how it should be done.

How sweet that must have been for Jose Mourinho the ex-Chelsea coach, now at Inter Milan. Revenge tastes sweet. His 'V' sign to Abramovich.

So its on to the Semi-Finals and no English clubs left in the competition. Huh? How come?

Only a few weeks ago, with 3 English teams in the competition, some online papers were touting the possibility of an all English final, and the very least an English Semi.

The truth unfolds. English football has stagnated. Spanish and Italian teams have forged ahead, with bold tactics and heavy investment on players and coaches. It was only a couple of years ago it was plain to see how strong English teams were against their continental counterparts.

This year, no English team makes it to the Semi's.

Liverpool were regular visitors to Quarter, Semi, and Finals. Chelsea too. Manchester United and Arsenal also pitched in from time-to-time.

After the 4-1 caning by Barcelona, Arsenal must look for new inspiration. Maybe its time for Wenger to hang up his training boots? Barcelona beat Arsenal in the Champions League Final 2006 and have failed to improve since then.

Manchester United have also rans in Europe since beating Chelsea for the Cup in 2008. Last year they were beaten in the final by Barcelona. Chelsea came close two seasons ago have joined the list of also rans.

Liverpool are playing so badly they will not qualify for Champions League football next season. Maybe its time for Rafa (Liverpools coach) to take the money and run.

The English teams have lost ground. They are no longer the dominant force in European football. Its the Spanish silly.

Maybe a revival will happen next year. I'm not sure. The problems run deep. The Premier League seems to produce a weaker side technically. When you watch Barcelona play they have a melodic rhythm to their football and a cheeky opportunism in the penalty area. Their set play's are varied.

Ever seen Liverpool labour with their corner set pieces? Watch and you may get it. They lack imagination. Watch Gerard thump it into the middle each time or the only other variation; the short pass to a team mate then thumped into the middle.

What ever happened to the man at the front post? Or the far post? Or the guy on the edge of the box for shot a shot at goal? Or the guy on the edge of the box to lob it in for a header? Or lay it off for a team mate in front of goal? No. Leave it to Gerrard.

Liverpool certainly lack imagination when it comes to set pieces. And their football in general is... how can I put it? Dire! Lacklustre! Mediocre! Yes that's it. Mediocre.

Arsenal play lovely football. Their game lacks a couple of elements. Steel and Guile.

Steel - Arsenal need a hard man at the back to kick the hell out of attacking opponents. Let them know who's in charge here. The miss Patrick Viera. They lack backbone. Since Viera left, Arsenal have been a shadow of their former selves.

Guile - Arsenal desperately need a goal scorer. Yes they have Bentner (stop laughing please), but his ratio of goals to attempts is so poor, I reckon my mule could match it.

Wenger - Maybe its time for the French maestro to move on or move upstairs. He's been at Arsenal for since 1996, that's 14 years, a long long time in modern footballing terms. In that time Barcelona have had 5 notable coaches. Real Madrid have had 6.

Sticking with one coach for so long allows for continuity, but has its problems? Most notably a lack of new ideas. Fresh perspectives. Coaches peak then fade slowly away. Unless the coach has been spectacularly successful, a new coach is needed.

Manchester United have been dominant in the Premier League, less so in Europe. Their manager has Ferguson has been at the helm since 1986. Can anyone remember back that far? A staggering 26 years. He's 68 now, and unlikely to lead them for much longer.

Chelsea owner Abramovich has deep pockets and sunk millions into creating the force the is Chelsea football club. They have won the Premier League but not the Champions League. Abramovich wants them to play "pretty" football ala Barcelona.

They are not there yet. Having gone through a swath of managers in the last 6 years, none has yet delivered style and substance. Abramovich may have to go talk to his bank manager again before his dream of lifting the Champions League Trophy becomes reality.

Liverpool? Well there's not a lot to say about them at the present time. They are in the midst of a slump. And it will continue till Benitez is shown the door, along with the American chancers.

Benitez has run out of ideas. Liverpool have a core of excellent players. They need a few more and one other thing! A new manager.

Its late and I have get going. I have more to add to this post. I'll try to finish it over the weekend.

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