Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Year of Dramas & Emotions in UCL

Posted by: Suresh J V, India

Every year even the most ardent League fans await the start of Champions League Knockout stages. In the end of December the men are separated from boys and the real men start fighting it out in February for the top honors and opportunity to climb to the summit of footballing pinnacle. Champion’s league knockout stage comes with its own oomph factor and usual razzmatazz; however this year certain personal conflicts & reasons will upstage the usual glamor. Let us look at a couple of those here.

Return of the Bogey Man
The match between Manchester United & Inter Milan is not just about two league leaders from Serie A & BPL are trying to deliver a knock out punch to the other. It’s not even about the defending champs and wanna be champs trying to muscle the other into submission. This year’s knock fixture is more than mere football; it’s all about clash of two personalities who set the footballing stage on fire every time when they faced each other. Yes it’s a clash between “Sir Alex Ferguson” & the “Special One – Jose Mourinho”. If Alex has to pick out one manager whom he wouldn’t like to face off in this UCL at least not in the first knock stage, it has to be Jose. Guess what! It’s Alex Vs Jose yet again. Jose has been Alex’s nemesis and bogey man from his coaching days dating way back to FC Porto. Jose is one of the very managers who enjoy’s a better head to head record over Alex. This is going to be one humdinger of a contest from the touch line to watch.

Return of the Prodigies
Real Madrid & Liverpool have the most enviable history in the European club football. They are two most successful European clubs in the history. Among themselves they share a mind numbing 14 European crowns. The last time these two clubs’s met was in 1981 European cup finals which Liverpool won and broke many hearts in the city of Madrid. However this year’s tie is not all about these two titans facing off against each other, but also the return of two prodigies back to city of Madrid.
Rafael Benitez the coach of Liverpool has brought glory back to Liverpool. He has managed to take Liverpool into the finals of champion’s league twice in the last few years and managing to win one in the most dramatic fashion. Benitez is considered as one of the best active football manager and no one will doubt his credentials. Liverpool has always been able to pull more weight under Rafa while playing in UCL. As every story has a start, Rafa story starts in Real Madrid. Rafa was a player and started learning the tricks of coaching with Real Madrid Youth team. Since then Rafa has gone on to achieve bigger things, however he still cherishes and fondly remembers his days in Real Madrid. He still sees himself coaching Real Madrid, if the opportunity presents itself. This is a home coming for Rafa and he surely wants to make this one count.
In Fernando Torres, the Kops have one of the most lethal striker in Europe. The “El Nino – Torres” is capable of turning any defense upside down. He is one of the very few players who Real Madrid would have loved to see playing for them instead of the other Madrid team. Fernando Torres started with Atletico Madrid and soon he established himself as the best striker in La Liga. Even with all his reputation and achievements till date, Torres still feels sad for not being able to have a telling impact against his old cross town rival Real Madrid. He seems to be heart broken for not being able to produce his best in Santiago Bernabeu the “Mecca of Club Football”. Now Torres has the opportunity to put his demons to rest when he tee’s off against Real Madrid. Will he let his demons ride him once again or will he conquer them is a contest worth watching, if you are not interested in the history of these clubs.

Pay Back Time
Chelsea Vs Juventus is not just about the clash between two footballing giants but it’s also a homecoming of sorts to Juve’s coach Claudio Ranneri. It’s was who started the Chelsea revolution with the bankrolling from Roman Abramovich. After a season working with Ranneri the club owner Abramovich thought Ranneri isn’t exactly kind of person who will be able to take Chelsea to the pinnacle and this resulted in Ranneri getting booted out and rest as we say is history. Now as head coach of Juventus, Ranneri has the opportunity to pay back to his past employer Roman Abramovich. With Chelsea in tatters after the sacking of Scolari, Ranneri may not find a better opportunity to extract his revenge. Will Ranneri earn his redemption? Only time will tell.

Buy Me Babe!!!
Karim Benzema is one of the hottest young talents in Europe. Many consider Karim Benzema’s decision to stay with Lyon for one more season was a miracle of sorts performed by Lyon president, when so many big European clubs were fighting for his service. Barcelona was one of the top club’s trying to sign him at the end of last season and Benzema will not have a better opportunity to show his talent and argue the case in his favor, when he faces Barcelona in Nou Camp. Will this match be a prelude of what this guy is capable off?

This season with all these showdowns, their are many who are in verge of a home coming, seeking redemption, trying to settle scores & or simply trying being the best. With all these emotions and reasons, we as spectators are really spoilt for choice.

Hala Madrid

1 comment:

  1. I think babel should not be counted out from the liverpool pests... he is a lethal one coz he given a bit of space he can create a hell lot of annoyment.. real should be wary that liverpool knows that they are targeting torres, hence even giving the rest of their strikes a bit of a breather shall be lethal....It shall be the game to watch considering both teams are on equal footing as of now in their respective leagues and both weighing their silverware options very carefully now