Thursday, April 27, 2006

Champions League Semi-finals: April 25-26

So, Arsenal vs. Barcelona in Paris it is, then. (Insert your own joke here about it being a home game for the Gunners.) Let's hope the final is more exciting than the semis were.

Villareal 0 - 0 Arsenal (aggregate 0-1)
Jens Lehmann gets to play the hero, after saving the crucial penalty (and, incidentally, makes Jurgen Klinsmann look like a genius -- at least until Mad Jens has his next brain cramp). I thought it was an extremely soft penalty...and this is coming from someone who saw how easily Stevie G went down in Istanbul last year. Other than appealing for the spot-kick, though, it didn't look like there was any sense of urgency from Villareal. I know Riquelme always looks like he's playing in slow-motion, but I didn't realize that was true of the entire team.

Meanwhile, the curse on the Arsenal left-backs continues, as Mathieu Flamini limped off after less that 10 minutes. My latest theory is that Ashley Cole is at home making voodoo dolls to prevent anyone stealing his spot while he's out injured. But the rest of the defense lived up valiantly to their title as the Liverpool of 2006. And at the other end of the pitch, Thierry Henry had almost nothing to do, other than shrugging French-ily and fending off pitch invaders (please tell me I'm not the only one who was amused by that). He and the Villareal keeper, whose name I can't be bothered looking up, probably could have gone off for sangria and nobody would have noticed.

Barcelona 0 - 0 Milan (aggregate 1-0)
I could have sworn that Barca and Milan were supposed to be two of the best attacking sides in Europe. And yet over two legs they mustered a whopping one goal between them. Sure, just like the first game, it was a wide open, end-to-end match, but does that really matter if there's no bulge in the old onion bag (to quote everybody's favourite idiot Tommy Smyth)?

Maybe that's not entirely fair to Barca, because they did play very well, and Dida had a good game for Milan -- for a change. But the only time the ball found the back of the net was from a header from Shevchenko, and that one was ruled out for an imaginary foul. On the other hand, even if Milan had managed to take the game to extra time, I suspect that Barcelona would have pulled out the win. Ronaldinho couldn't have kept wasting his free kicks indefinitely. Bah. Possibly I'm just cranky because I won't get to watch Sheva swap shirts with anyone next month.

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