Relegation Monday saw an astounding three upsets from yesterday’s feature matches. And now we get to huddle around the life-giving light that is UEFA Champions League.
Rejoice, give thanks… and watch out for the armed Lapalandic culinary madman at post’s end…
Juventus vs. Tottenham Sir Topham Hatt Hotspur – UEFA Champions League
The Knockout Round begins! We’re down to 16 teams. The eight Group Stage winners will each face off against a randomly-drawn second place-finishesr. Each pair will play a two-legged tie (two-match series, home and away) to determine who advances.
Hotspur carry the slightly-lesser international rating, but have been on fire in arguably the world’s toughest league. They also didn’t lose any Group Stage matches.
Juve recently took over first place in Italy’s Serie A. Noob’s calling this one for the home team, and hopes it’s not his anti-Hotspur bias clouding his senses.
RESULT: 2-2 Reviled Hotspur actually dominated this game, but fell behind 0-2 early.
B. Basel vs. Manchester City – UEFA Champions League
During the Group Stage and other international events, Noob sang the praises of the surprising Swiss. But this is Man City, top of the English Premier heap. Basel would do well to keep within a goal, even at home.
RESULT: Man City 0-4
Number B sings, too.
Even if she’s lyrically-challenged.
CF América vs. Morelia – Liga MX
The hosts are #B in the league, one of two clubs to have not yet lost early here in the Clausura (second half-season). They sport the best defense this go-round. Morelia are not far behind, in 5th.
And the “Monarchs” will lose, MUST lose. No kings and queens in North America! Noob’s quest to tear down all monarch-named teams is right up there with the same for Hotspur and the quest for the world to accept Number B in all lists and rankings.
RESULT: America 3-1
Honorable mention: Crvena Zvezda/CSKA Moscow (Europa League), any AFC Champions League or Copa Sudamericana match, Santiago Wanderers/Santa Fe (Copa Libertadores qualification)
Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain – UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid are the defending champions, but only finished #B in their Group. This matches up with them having slipped to 4th place in La Liga.
Meanwhile, PSG won their Group and has run away with the French top league title. They’ve been a goal-scoring beast, and Noobstradamus is making this is Prognostication O’ the Week. Real’s struggles continue with a home embarrassment – PSG: 0-2.
RESULT: Real 3-1 PSG scored first, but that woke Real up, apparently
As embarrassing as my choice in head gear and my Forrest Whitaker-eye
Porto vs. Liverpool – UEFA Champions League
Unlike the aforementioned Swiss, Portuguese teams have by and large failed to impress Noob on the world stage in recent months. On paper, at home, they’re an even match for Liverpool. Noob thinks this match will mirror the one above though.
RESULT: Liverpool 0-5 FC Porto-potty. Wow.
Santos vs. León – Liga MX
Noob’s leaning toward León of late, for having signed American legend Landon Donovan midyear. But apparently the move isn’t helping much on defense. They may be in 6th, but teams are putting up pinball-numbers on them. Santos is in 4th, and should hold serve at home.
RESULT: Santos 5-1
Es ella la domadora de leones?
Independiente vs. Grêmio – Recopa Sudamericana
Wait, Noober – we know about Copa Sudamericana, but what in tarnation is this?
A fair question. But don’t you think “Noober” is a little informal? I am Noob!
The Management: To whom are you even “talking”?
Write checks and stay quiet. I’m the talent here.
The Management: Using that term a little loosely, aren’t you, Noobstra-dumbass?
That hurts me to my core. Hush now.
Anyway! Last year’s Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana champions play a two-legged tie for a trophy. Why? Because they’re shiny, and soccer players are like squirrels. *nod* The Argentinian side hosts Leg One.
Kashima Antlers vs. Shanghai Shenhua – AFC Champions League
Asian teams are playing their first games of the Group Stage in their C.L.
Kashima are the two-time defending J1 League champions. Shenhua qualified by virtue of winning China’s FA Cup. They really overachieved in that, given that they only managed to finish 11th of 16 teams in the Super League. The Antlers are about to mess up their s—stuff.
But now MY stuff is certainly messed up.
Shkëndia vs. Vardar Skopje – Macedonia First Football League
UEFA only rates this league #37 of 55 leagues on the continent. So why bother? It’s #1 versus #B! Noob endeavors to never ignore such. And though we be Noob and Noobite, we will broaden our footyball horizons even as we learn about the biggest and closest-to-home leagues.
These two have scored more than any other four teams in this league. And the hosts are responsible for far more than their fair share of that. Still, they only lead Vardar by six points in the table, with over 1/3 of the season to go. And the visitors have the best defense, if not by leaps and bounds.
Honorable Mention: Either of the two Copa Libertadores qualification matches today
Östersunds vs. Arsenal – Europa League
Europe’s second-most prestigious international tournament enters its Round of 32 now. The eight third-place Group Stage clubs from Champions League get booted down to join the two dozen 1st and Bth (second, if you must) -place finishers in the Knockout Round.
Swedish Ostersunds qualified by winning their FA Cup, just as Arsenal did. English football is a weeee bit tougher. Arsenal 1-3 seems proper, unless they don’t go full-bore here, try saving their energies for Premier League.
RESULT: Arsenal 0-3
Dan the Intern-o Inferno and resident Swede-ophile, when asked for comment on this match, said he fervently hopes chicken boom boom will be available at the concessions.
Honorable Mention: Any of the 14 other Europa League matches, Copa Libertadores qualification and Copa Sudamericana matches, Esperance/Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)