If I wasn’t a regular viewer of the English Premier League and I watched the Champions League semi-finals this week, I’d walk away with a feeling that English teams were horrible. Bereft of skill, no composure on the ball, an inability to control games, and as negative as the worst examples of stereotypical Italian soccer.
Yes, I know that Man United played catenaccio (thanks Wayne Rooney). And I know that Chelsea against Liverpool continues to be an abortion of soccer any time they play in the Champions League since the stakes are so high. But those combinations do little to win over non-believers of English football, and do even less to win over new fans.
For three teams who are in the top four of arguably the best league in the world right now (due to the abysmal season in Spain), we should expect more. Manchester United’s gameplan worked, but they were incredibly lucky not to let in a goal. Sir Alex Ferguson would argue that he doesn’t care about entertaining football and that winning is everything. Let’s hope Man United does it in style against Barcelona next Tuesday instead of yesterday’s anti-soccer.
From Chelsea and Liverpool, I honestly can’t get excited about seeing either team progress to the final. The teams are such close rivals on the European stage. And, as such, their games usually feature few goals. Expect Wednesday’s match to be settled by one lone goal or go to penalties. Whether it’s Chelsea or Liverpool that makes the final, they’ll be more entertaining to watch there in the final but I’d much rather see a winner from Barcelona or Man United lift the trophy. I would have much preferred to see Arsenal in the place of Liverpool in the semi-final if this past Tuesday night is an indication of the best that Liverpool can offer.
Listening to The Game Podcast yesterday, Guillem Balague previewed an interview he conducted with Barcelona’s Xavi. The Spanish player commented that the game of football has changed where it’s much more physical and that attribute is a key component in winning games these days. That’s why, Xavi argued, that English clubs are doing so well in Europe.
Let’s just hope that next week’s Champions League semi-finals are more entertaining to watch and give a better representation of what the Premier League is about.