Thursday, May 01, 2008

Champions League Exit

Chelsea player Didier Drogba celebrates after Chelsea beat Liverpool during the second leg of a Champions League semi-final game at Stamford Bridge in London. Chelsea won 3-2 to qualify for the final in which they will play Manchester United.
(AFP/Carl de Souza)

Chelsea beat Liverpool 3-2 yesterday in overtime to advance (4-3) to the Champions League Final in Moscow on May 21st.

Rafa made some baffling personnel selections; no Peter Crouch as usual, even though this was a must-win, must-score-to-win game and Crouch has an excellent record of scoring goals in international matches, for club and country. Riise and Arbeloa at the wing backs. I'd rather see Stevie Finnan hopping on one leg than Arbeloa, but I'm not Rafa. Arbeloa got beat like a rented mule on Chelsea's first goal.

Ryan Babel on the bench. Jermaine Pennant on the bench. Bennie Onion at least provided a little offensive spark, and created Liverpool's only goal in regulation time (and got subbed out early for his troubles), but Xavi Alonso was invisible as he has been for much of the year. Dirk Kuyt was so bad the ESPN announcers never even said "He works so hard" once during the game. Kuyt has the worst first touch I've ever seen. The ball bounces so far off his feet you'd swear he kicked it.

Rafa claimed Torres was hurt
when he subbed him out for Babel in the 2nd overtime, but that was a stunning move when goals were critical. And then Babel scored that incredible 40-yard strike goal and you had to wonder, why wasn't he in from the beginning?

And it must be said, the pre-game taunting of Drogba by Rafa was nothing short of disastrous. MOTM Drogba made him pay & pay dearly with his two goals.

This morning I watched the highlowlights on SportsCenter and got a good laugh. These guys really know nothing about soccer. Steve Levy did the voiceover and pronounced Sammy Hyypia "Huppeeuh". And Frank Lampard he called "Lamperd". Just pronounce that one like its written, moron. Lamp - ard. Or call him Lamps and avoid the gaffe. You just know that Levy has never actually watched an entire soccer game. Never. From now on I'm going to call Levy (Lee - vee) "Levee". (I expect better from an Oswego graduate.)

I'm an American so I don't have the Manchester United hate you get when you grow up a Liverpool fan in England. So I'll root for the Mancs in the final, for Paul Scholes, the best English player of his generation, who didn't get to play in ManU's last Champions League final in 1999 due to suspension. And I just can't root for Chelsea, the unlikeable Blues, Terry, Lampard, Cashley and co.

If Liverpool had won, it would have been an all-Reds final in Moscow. So appropriate. Warren Beatty would have had to attend. But Chelsea has its own connection to communism, as Roman Abramovitch looted the money he used to buy the Blues from the Russian people as communism collapsed in a frenzy of capitalistic greed. Another reason I can't root for Chelsea.

Guardian (uk): Player Ratings

Guardian (uk): Benítez left with empty feeling and unclear future
A trophyless season will do Liverpool's manager no favours in Anfield's civil war

Independent (uk): Chelsea 3 Liverpool 2 (Chelsea win 4-3 on agg): Lampard summons remarkable courage to fire Chelsea through

Independent (uk): Moscow prepares for an English invasion

Telegraph (uk): Liverpool manager Benitez looks to the future

The Times (uk): Absent Roman Abramovich gets his home brew

Liverpool Echo: Chelsea 3 - Liverpool 2
AT least there’s no need to worry about those Russian visas anymore.

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