OMG, the best tournament in sports is back today after a two-week sabbatical. So what's going on?
(Reuters / HEINO KALIS)
Wait, remind me what the Champions League is again?
I explained this in more detail a couple weeks ago, but as a reminder, it's 1) maybe the best tournament in sports and 2) a tournament involving the top soccer clubs from Europe's domestic leagues — for example, the English Premier League, Spain's La Liga, Italy's Serie A, Germany's Bundesliga, and so on.
Oh, that's right. So, isn't that thing over? Like, hasn't Barcelona won yet?
Not yet! Here's the deal. We're into the semifinals now, and unfortunately, the quarterfinals weren't even close.
As expected, the vastly superior Real Madrid beat Cypriot underdogs APOEL 8-2 aggregate.
Presumed favorites and possible best-team-of-all-time Barcelona — which features possible best-player-of-all-time-unless-you-ask-Pele Leo Messi, as well as world top-10 players Xavi and Iniesta — drew AC Milan 0-0 at Milan and then blew them open in Barcelona, 3-1. (Messi converted two penalties, and Iniesta added another goal.)
Chelsea beat Benfica 3-1, and Bayern Munich crushed Marseille 4-0. Everyone yawned.
Well, that sounds kind of boring.
I mean, a little? But it's good, because the best teams all won, as they tend to in this tourney — thanks to the group play and then the home-and-away match-ups, the Champions League is the rare tournament in which the "right" teams usually advance. (This is the opposite of, say, the NFL Playoffs or March Madness; 2011 saw the very flawed Giants and UConn Huskies both get hot. Of course, the Kentucky juggernaut rightly dominated this year in the NCAA.)
Oh! When does Messi play?
God, can we talk about anything other than Barcelona?
First, Real Madrid heads to Bayern Munich today at 2:45 pm EST. Real Madrid's Galacticos — featuring all-world winger Cristiano Ronaldo, aka soccer's LeBron, as well as players like Kaka, Benzema, and the awesome Mesut Ozil — have their hands full against a German team that doesn't play like how people think Germans play; i.e., they're really fun and fast and exciting.
Tomorrow, Barcelona welcomes Chelsea to Camp Nou, where the Blues will have their hands very full.
What's going to happen?
Barcelona's already started putting the heat on Chelsea, and it's safe to say that few people outside of the British Isles expect the Blues, whose disastrous EPL season means they might not even qualify for next year's Champions League, to pull it out.
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich is a far more even-handed matchup; most unaffiliated observers will pull for Real, though, because if Madrid and Barcelona met in the championship, it would be one of the most anticipated Champions League Finals of all time.
Why? They're both Spanish teams. That seems kind of lame.
Yeah, why on Earth would you want to see two teams from the best league on the planet, two teams in the country that won the most recent World Cup, play each other on an international stage?
Hey. There's no need for sarcasm.
Sometimes, I just don't know about you.
You don't understand me.
Anyway, more seriously: every time Real Madrid and Barcelona meet, it's called "El Clasico." If El Clasico isn't the greatest rivalry in sport, it's definitely up there — it's soccer's Yankees/Red Sox, Duke/UNC, Michigan/Ohio State, etc. A Champions League finals El Clasico would be electric enough to power the whole continent for about a year.
Sweet joke, dude.
YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING.