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Questions to Consider After Man United's 1-0 Roma Win

manchester-united-team.gifWhat does it say about English dominance in Europe when Alex Ferguson picks practically a B side to play Roma to ensure qualification for the semi-finals of the Champions League? And, after all that, his team still wins?

Is this how far English clubs have progressed where even their B-sides are better than one of the most attacking clubs in Italy?

With the way that Barcelona were fortunate to get two 1-0 wins over Schalke after playing so unimpressively, can you envision – as I do – Manchester United giving the Spanish giants a public humiliation over the two legs?

Is this Champions League season the best chance ever to have an all-English final?

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  1. Kartik

    April 11, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Yes guys you are right. I mis-spoke. What I meant to say was that Britain has produced more great players than any other footballing nation in history but obviously not the majority of great players.

    Now moving on, to answer an earlier reply where cherry picked results against Bundelsiga clubs were chosen to further the EPL argument. This is disingenuous on my part but no more disingenuous that the initial reply.

    Recall Arsenal’s draw Slavia Prague? How about Chelsea with Rosenborg? What Liverpool’s defeat to Beshkitas in the same city as Liverpool’s greatest recent glory. What about United loss last year to Celtic and the near miss at Old Trafford for Celtic as well?

    England’s clubs are riding high now, but the last time I checked Spain, Italy have won more champions league titles in the last 20 years. than English teams and Germany, Portugal and Holland have won as many.

    My argument may seem faulty based on those isolated results but the Bundesliga bashing above was simply as short sighted and based on cherry picking facts or as I suspect with some of you never watching a Bundesliga match.

    Recall last year The PL had three teams in the CL semifinals. Yet AC Milan reigned supreme. Even if England’s 3 reps claim a title this year, the league still is chasing Spain and Italy for overall glory and lack of the depth of PL is exposed every single year in the UEFA Cup (except that odd year when Liverpool falls to the UEFA Cup like 2000.)

  2. Ivan

    April 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    BTW i think the confusion surrounds people who think i havent given enough credit to Man United. Man United are the best side in Europe at this moment in time, i thought that was a given….

  3. Ivan

    April 11, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Arsenal arent best side in England. I clarified what i said in my last msg and for the people who didn’t understand….. in my personal opinion man for man Barcelona squad is better than Man United’s thus when their players are playing to the potential we’ve seen them play in patches i still think they are the best team in Europe……

  4. Dave M

    April 11, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    However Barcelona when they do decide to perform i believe are still this best side in Europe…
    …that and $4 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Just as Arsenal is the best team in England, but aren’t going to get any trophies.

  5. The Scout

    April 11, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I won’t go quite as far as the commenter above me but I do agree the remark “the majority of the great players in history are English, or actually British” is off the mark.

  6. I agree with the Wanker

    April 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Kartik, did you say the majority of great players all time are British?


    For all the dumb things I’ve seen on this site particularly from some of the writers recently that is by far the dumbest, especially for someone who is so well reasoned in his opinion otherwise and shows up the 2Gs every time he’s on that show…………………….good job yesterday by the way. You won the argument with Brown even if you have cost all the credibility you’ve earned with this dumb statement.

  7. Simon Burke

    April 11, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Serie A is garbage! (As he offends the Italian contingent) – let me qualify that with in the 90’s I would have had it down as the finest league but its been surpassed – they are tactically strong – read defensive and good at clock management- read time wasting. However in terms of actual football they are not so good. They were lucky to win the 2006 World Cup, Australia really should have put them away… THey wont the CL last year with a team that shouldnt even have been allowed in and only played well in patches. This year the Italian teams have been really put in their place beaten 5 times by English opposition with no wins in reply. I cant see it changing till the Italians adapt the way they play as they do have the players.

  8. Liverpool John

    April 11, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Truthfully I discovered other leagues in the past few months and believe the Premier League top to bottom uis vastly over rated. Not only the points about techical ability and touch mentioned above but also from sheer competitiveness and excitement.

    Serie A too is over hyped: Besides Reds matches in England I have now discovered the French and German leagues which are exicitng and DC United as well. United was ripped off the other night and should be playing the North American Champions League final next week.

  9. Ivan

    April 11, 2008 at 4:05 am

    I don’t understand how the comment is ridiculous…. In my opinion the squad of Barcelona is better than Man Uniteds, not yours MY opinion. At the moment they are relying heavily on one young kid Bojan getting goals (noone else is on form unlike man united) and as i said when Messi is fit they are simply a different team….

  10. Michael

    April 10, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    It doesn’t work like that, the last sentence of your comment is ridiculous. I’m sorry, you can’t be the best team in Europe and not come out to play half the time. You can’t be the best team in Europe and only perform on some nights.

    You can still be the best team in Europe when the result just doesn’t go your way but the effort and heart is still there. Barcelona show up every once in a while; they’re too inconsistent to be considered a serious threat to United at this point, which you correctly pointed out.

  11. Ivan

    April 10, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Let’s be honest here. Laliga, Serie A and even Bundesliga this season the competition has been lacking. Most of the top teams in all these leagues that have participated in european competition there consistency have been lacking and quality performances have few and far between. Kartik is correct in that from top the bottom Spanish teams are stronger than any other league IMO. Italy especially in recent years the money hasn’t been there yet it appears that Italian talent is still strong i.e. world cup winners – comes down to better coaches, better scouts and tactical approach. For listeners of World Football, Steve Mcclaren’s opinion (perhaps attempting to save his bacon) on the difference in technical ability when comparing English youngsters with Spanish ones is quite profound.

    Can’t remember who but i remember listening to a program where the expert highlighted that in England the media and fans often don’t care for much when it comes to leagues on the continent. Whereas Spain i think he highlighted in particular there are pages of analysis in their paper of happenings around the world.

    At this moment in time without Messi (though he should be fit), Man United will walk all over Barcelona. However Barcelona when they do decide to perform i believe are still this best side in Europe…

  12. Kartik

    April 10, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Alex Hleb. The problem is many in the British press don’t seem to recognize football isn’t the same everywhere that is in england. Obviously it goes without saying that the game was invented by the English and the majority of the great players in history are English, or actually British (need to include George Best.) Right now it can be argued England has the best talent in the world, but for some reason many england fans and British press don’t seem to realize other nations have quality and other league have quality and the style of play is different in different places. Just because you don’t recognize the style doesn’t mean it is somehow inferior unless being British pre-ordains you to cast judgment on every other league or national team in the world but someone with a contrasting opinion who happens to think german football is of a high standard (even though England always beats Germany, don’t they?) is pretty decent.

  13. Alex Hleb

    April 10, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    cheeky kartik again with his all anti english remarks. kartik, is there any way that you might find some english teams worth your much sought after praise? send jennifer ellison in an everton kit?
    its a shame that you have such opinion on english football since you are so knowledgeable about the game and an irreplaceable celebrity of the footballing world. when one thinks of a pundit in terms of football, the first person to come to mind is the great kartik.

  14. Kartik

    April 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    JLay, I think Hannover would beat West Ham often then not but comparing leagues is like comparing apples to oranges. That’s why I laugh when Anglophiles say MLS is worse than League One or the Conference. First of all I am not sure many League One teams have world cup players on them, but I digress. The style of play in the US, the travel, the training, etc is VERY different from Europe. The only league from a setup standpoint MLS can be compared to is the Mexican First Division, and yes in that comparison MLS loses as Mexican teams beat MLS teams generally seven times out of ten.

    Back to the Bundesliga. The majority of you here do not watch the league. I challenge you to watch a match here and there and then come back and tell me the 10th and 18th place teams in the PL are certainly better. They may be, but I believe their is a strong likely hood they are not. The points I mentioned above do matter. A reason exists why German players that pundits in British papers correctly point out are not sought by top European clubs consistently show up those players in international competition while representing Germany. It’s called tactics and discipline, something many British and Spanish players and managers lack a proper understanding of.

  15. TheScout

    April 10, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve touched on it before in a couple of posts but I will again be examining why the English-based clubs are proving to be more dominant this season in the Champions League.

    I agree with the comment that comparing leagues is like comparing apples and oranges. There are certain factors, like money, that we know vary widely from league to league.

    The easy answer is that the patient, short-passing game favoured by many Spanish and Italian sides is not matching up well against the high-energy, pressing style that is so common in the EPL but I think there is more to it than that.

    I think the UEFA Cup (which if it did not matter to anyone, what’s the furor over letting Cardiff City in ? And why are EPL teams so worried about getting into the UEFA Cup spots?) does point to the fact that the EPL is quickly becoming a haves/have-nots league where the top 4 are always the same. Everton and Portsmouth are knocking on the door but how close are they really?

    As for the Bundesliga, I have been watching it quite regularly this year and I have not found the tempo of the matches to be “way slower” than in the average EPL match. In terms of “slower” leagues, I’d nominate Serie A before I would mention the Bundesliga.

    In general though, each match settles into its own particular rythmn and within any league there will be both turgid stop-start, kick-him-in-the-shins affairs and there will be flowing end-to-end games. A lot of it depends on who’s matched up with who, what the pitch conditions are and a whole other host of factors that are never talked about. I find that the whole argument about what the best league often has the smell of jingoism/self-interest about it.

  16. JLay

    April 10, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I disagree with you too, Kartik… but not necessarily with your supporting points. I think that we’re comparing apples and oranges here. The only way that you can really judge which league is better is by looking at head-to-head results.

    Bayern Munich, easily the best team in Germany, would get beat by any of the top 4 EPL teams 9 times out of 10. Do you really think that Hannover 96 (10th BL) would beat West Ham (10th PL)? Or that MSV Duisberg (18th) would beat Bolton (18th)? No way in hell!

    The BL might have more parity, but the EPL has much more quality…

    Yes, your average German teams are generally tactically sound, have great fundamental skills, protect posession, and keep their shape. I’d also argue that they’re less physical, far less imaginative, and way slower than the average EPL team.

    A top women’s college basketball team is more technically and strategically sound than an NBA team, too – if you’ve ever watched those girls play, their mechanics are flawless… But I’d never bet on the Lady Vols to beat the Knicks!

    Just my two cents – I had to jump into this one!

  17. Simon Burke

    April 10, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Kartik good retort as always – i agree Germany top to bottom is pretty good and cetainly has more parity than England. I would say 2 English teams were a penalty shootout away from the last 8 however and results like those tend to prove nothing.
    Gaffer you citing Bolton drew Bayern and beating Atletico is like me saying Portugal’s league is better than England as Sporting put away Bolton.

    England have a top 6 , including Spurs and Everton but after that I dont have faith in the other 14. Portsmouth and Villa on their day are alright and above the next 12 but thats all.

    One would think that they who have the most cash will produce the best teams and Englands top 4 is pretty rich but the rest of the teams arent that rich and the quality of them hasnt particularly improved outside of Portsmouth in recent seasons, and I will guess Spurs for next season.

    Germany has a lower standard at its top tier but probably a higher standard in the middle for what thats worth.

    One thing I would say about Englands rich 4 is that they not only have skilful players but play a higher paced game than continental Europe and its the speed that tells as no-one can argue that Real and Inter and Roma dont have classy top drawer players. That blood and thunder Premiership style wins out when mixed with a lot talented players.

  18. Kartik

    April 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    BTW, for anyone interested I’ll be on the 2Gs later in the hour to discuss the controversial DC United-Pachuca CONCACAF Champions League game last night.

  19. Kartik

    April 10, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Gaffer, I totally disagree. How do you explain the English teams consistently losing in the UEFA cup. Don’t cite two results and say that’s proof. Why have German, Spanish and Italian clubs been so much more successful in the UEFA Cup lately. Like your other post I understand your “cherrleading” for British Football, but c’mon, not a single English team reached the Final 8 this year in the UEFA Cup and I find it interesting that proponents of the EPL point to Juan DeRamos two UEFA cup titles at Sevillia as proof of what a great manager he was and now for some reason results in the UEFA cup don’t matter nor does the fact that Sevillia’s new manager actually took them further in the CL!

    I challenge anyone on this site to watch a Bundesliga game this weekend and make the following comparisons with teams 6-20 in the PL.

    —-> Was the technical ability better on the ball by the player in the German match or the English match?

    —-> Was the first touch usually better in the English match or the German match?

    —-> Which game had more bad giveaways in midfield?

    —-> Which game had more goals?

    —-> Which team kept their shape better and which game showed managers use of tactics to be more sound?

    If you check England for all of the above in an objective manner I’ll shut up.

  20. Dave M

    April 10, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Manchester United fielded a very strong team in Rome last week (with the debatable exclusion of J.S. Park, most would say their best available). The side SAF ran out yesterday is more a result of the following factors: the 2-0 lead he had going into the 2nd leg (both away goals), Roma lacking their star striker, and the opportunity to rest Rooney & Ronaldo ahead of this weekend’s Arsenal match.

    Yet and still, he had R & R on the bench ready to enter the game at need. Thanks to the de Rossi missed penalty, that need did not arise.

    They also had the mental advantage of last year’s drubbing in the same stage. I would not, however, take all of this and conclude “EPL B sides can win the Champions League over Europe’s A sides”. Man Utd just had the advantage of a good result in the 1st leg, and took a gamble that they could rest some players ahead of an important league fixture.

  21. The Gaffer

    April 10, 2008 at 11:46 am

    * oops, I meant to say that “Bolton almost beat Sporting Braga with a B-side” not “beat.”

  22. The Gaffer

    April 10, 2008 at 11:46 am


    Come on! Even Bolton, third from bottom in the Premier League, tied 2-2 with the mighty Bayern Munich this year in the UEFA Cup.

    Bolton then knocked Atletico Madrid out of the tournament, and also beat Sporting Braga with a B-side.

    Bolton would have fielded their first side against Sporting except that it wanted to concentrate on the more lucrative Premier League than UEFA Cup.

    The UEFA Cup, for the most part, is a joke. Few English teams treat it seriously because they know they can make more money in the Premier League (thus survival in the Prem is more important than winning the UEFA Cup).

    Yes, Derby is crap. But Derby aside, even the clubs lower in the Prem would have a decent chance of beating even the better German sides.

    Schalke, who are second place in the Bundesliga, was awful in the matches against Barcelona. Their shooting skills were exceedingly poor.

    The Gaffer

  23. Kartik

    April 10, 2008 at 11:03 am

    English sides progression seemed to stop in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Cup. All that the Champions League proves is that the top 4 English clubs are better than the rest. That doesn’t make it the best league top to bottom. I happen to strongly believe that the Bundesliga is the top league bottom to mid table and then Serie A, LaLiga and EPL compete from that point up. Throw Derby County in the Bundesliga and they won’t get 10 points.

  24. reece c

    April 10, 2008 at 10:35 am

    i agree manchester united will humiliate barca and finally there will be an all english final

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