May 28, 2009

The Champions of Champions

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

For a whole year now, we will call Barcelona the champions of champions. After a stunning defeat of defending champs Manchester United 2-0 yesterday, Barca won the European Champions league title. Essentially, it’s the Super Bowl of club football, a title that takes pretty much two years to win. Really, it might the hardest title to claim in all of pro sports (you could argue NCAA titles are just as hard considering the amount of teams chasing one prize, but that’s not global, or professional).

Think about this: to even qualify for the Champions League, you have to finish near or at the top of your country’s league the year before playing in the Champs league, just to qualify. Then, you might have to advance through other qualifiers to reach the group stage, which is no walk in the park. Follow that with two legs of quarter and semifinals and your team can be downright beat up before the actually final in late May, 22 months after you started your climb to the top. And this entire time, you’re still playing games in your country’s league weekly matches to try to qualify for next year’s Champions League.

That schedule alone should weed out the inferior teams, but there’s also the amount of teams that can potentially qualify. While only the top teams in the bigger soccer countries like England, Spain, Italy and Germany automatically qualify for Champs, pretty much any country in Europe can send their top squad. So, at the beginning of that 22 month journey, hundreds of teams are essentially – although unrealistically – are vying for the title.

That should give you an idea on how big Barca’s win was yesterday and maybe even more so how big it was that Man U fought all the way back to defend their title.

As for yesterday’s game, for the first 10 minutes, it looked like Barca’s patchwork defensive line wouldn’t be able to hold the Red Devils’ attack, then a quick, stunning counter that ended with Eto’o putting a goal under Van Der Saar’s arm staggered Manchester United and they were never the same. Their wind was taken out of their sales and they couldn’t get their attack going at all.

Even after taking out the horrible Ji Sung Park, there was nothing to be done. Lionel Messi’s unmarked header on a lovely cross sealed the game in the 70th minute. All that was left to do was wait out the final whistles.

In the end, I blame Man U’s white shirts for the loss. Really, there’s no way I could picture them walking off the field sulking in their proud reds.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for writing, I truly enjoyed reading your newest post. I think you should post more frequently, you obviously have talent for blogging!

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