As we hit the second leg of the UEFA Champions League knockout stage this week, let’s look at a few of the “storylines” on the road to Moscow.
1. The defending champion, AC Milan, is owned by Italian business tycoon/politician/controller of all media/midget Silvio Berlusconi. He cares so much about the knockout stage of the Champions League, he’s going to reanimate the cryogenically frozen body of Paolo Maldini just for the occasion.
So many different and funny ways that you could have made fun of AC Milan. You had Ronaldo…you had Gilardino…you had at least two players whose names had some variation of “ca-ca”…and yet you chose the “Paolo Maldini is old” joke. I am so disappointed.
2. In the history of UEFA Champions League, only two teams not from Western Europe have won. This year, two such teams made it to the knockout stages: Olympiacos FC (Greece) and Fenerbahce (Turkey). To see either of these teams advance and loosen the death grip that Western Europe has on futbol would be fantastic.
In a completely unrelated story, the bettors have Chelsea and Sevilla winning 6-0 and 8-3 on aggregate “based on a hunch.” The G-14 lives!
Above, members of the “defunct” G-14 football confederation hold an emergency meeting about the growing threat of Slavia Prague.
3. There is only one reason, I repeat, one reason why I know anything about Celtic. And that is because my mom has had a crush on their goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, after seeing him play for Poland in the World Cup.
4. Rumor has it that Rafa Benitez might be leaving Liverpool after a disappointing Premiership season and fallout with the team’s American ownership (and in turn, the ownership’s fallout with fans). The reality is that Rafa already left during the summer, and Bizarro Rafa Benitez has been coaching the Mersysiders this entire season. Haven’t they taught you anything about goatees and evil parallel universes?
One of the tell-tale signs that the goateed Rafa is a fraud: he no longer has the ability to control your television.
5. For all the fuss about AC Milan, it is actuallly Inter at the top of the Serie A table right now. Inter has the Champions League’s inly two Colombian players, Ivan Cordoba and Nelson Rivas. They have earned a spot on their roster in part due to their talent, but mostly to help support owner Massimo Moratti’s massive cocaine habit.
I mean, look at him. If that’s not the most coked-up old Italian man you’ve ever seen in your life, then I’d like to know who is.
6. Barcelona’s primary sponsor is UNICEF. In the true spirit of the UN, the team is going to make a ridiculously frivolous purchase and blame Fulham for their early Champions League exit.
The scary part: Brain McBride actually looks like a marionette.
7. Lyon plays in Stade Gerland, the stadium where team USA famously ended their dead-last 1998World Cup finish with a loss to Iran. Little known fact: Ahmadinejad has this game on a continuous loop in every TV of the Presidential Palace.
8. Much like the American presidential system, there’s an unwritten rule that says that any player must be at least 35 years of age to be a goalkeeper for Arsenal. Dammit, that’s the second old joke you’ve made today! That’s not funny!
9. Manchester United has the Champions League’s only Chinese player, Dong Fangzhou. Yeah, United likes Dong. They simply can’t get enough Dong. They…wait…you didn’t think I meant…you’re sick, you know that?!?
10. In the event that Chelsea is involved in an aggregate tie, the match will not go to penalty kicks. Instead, Israeli manager Avram Grant will challenge his rival manager to a Krav Maga deathmatch in the middle of the pitch. Or maybe he’ll concede if you just, you know, let him suck your blood.
Let me get my fang dentures.
11. Germans have actually come a long way culturally since World War II. Just look at who the knockout stage’s only remaining German team, Schalke 04, just signed during the January transfer window:
Enjoy this week’s second leg of the Round of 16.