Well, obviously there was some football played this week. One of the great problems with the group stages of the Champions League is that the results are often meaningless, relatively. It’s all very well, Celtic beating Manchester United over the two matches, but isn’t it somewhat meaningless if both teams qualify for the next round? This was the fourth time that Celtic or Rangers have put an English club to the sword in the European Cup over the last fifteen years, but it doesn’t seem to mean as much as it used to. When Rangers beat Leeds in 1992, the media hype was enormous. Away fans were barred from both matches, and the country almost seemed to stand still. When Rangers did for Blackburn in 1996, it was largely dissipated because Blackburn were in the middle of a humiliatingly incompetent CL run. By now, it doesn’t really matter that much, because United will still be odds on to get a point against Benfica in a couple of weeks and join Celtic on the last sixteen. A pity, but there’ll be plenty more of it to come if they ever get a European Super League.
Now then: about Chelsea losing to Werder Bremen… Did they do it on purpose? Would they really do that? Given the recent animosity between the two clubs, I wouldn’t be surprised, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before Chelsea admit to it. Barca now have to beat Bremen in their final match to avoid a humiliating and unexpected first round exit. They’ll probably do it, but they’re cutting it considerably finer than they would have wanted to.
This year’s Champions League last sixteen will have a distinctly lop-sided feel about. There are likely to be five British teams taking part, and this is very unhealthy for the competition generally. The problem seems to be that too many of Europe’s major teams appear to be… well… shit at the moment. Real Madrid and Barcelona are well below par. Bayern Munich are mediocre, and the big Italian clubs have struggled more than they should have done by now. There’s a long way to go, but it feels to me as if this year’s European Cup may be won by default. You have to assume that it’s Chelsea’s to lose. Sad, but true. The only team to have played really well so far have been Lyon, and you can’t help but think that maybe they’ve peaked too soon.
Of course, there is the sneaking suspicion that the British teams might just be the best at the moment, and this is reinforced by the second string in the European Cup. West Ham may have fluffed their lines, but Newcastle, Blackburn, Rangers and Spurs are all through to the next round of the UEFA Cup. Spurs beat Bayer Leverkusen, and Newcastle beat Celta Vigo, whilst Blackburn and Rangers drew with Feyenoord and Auxerre respectively. Now, I know that Feyenoord are going through something of a crisis at the moment, but these aren’t no-hopers. These are seasoned European campaigners. I’m still finding it difficult to get excited about it all, though.
Now… this site. Any time you log in over the course of the weekend, you might find this place in any one of a variety of different colour schemes or stylesheets. I’ve decided that the current look is a bit lacklustre, and that the place could do with a bit of tarting up. Maybe a couple of discreetly placed logos. Now, to clarify, I am usually of the opinion that content matters over style. Any of you that have seen the way that I dress will already be aware of this. So, bear with me while I, for the want of a better phrase, “fiddle about” wth it. Any suggestions would be most gratefully received.
The one other thing that I wanted to mention this evening was the server logs and referral statistics. For the non-technically minded amongst us, these allow me to see who is coming and going, and how you’re getting here (you can see it too, if you click on the Sitemeter link at the very bottom of the page). The last few are as follows: “superscoreboard” (I have no idea what this even means), “percentage of football draws” (about one in four, give or take?), “grandstand early theme tune” (just down there, sir), “andre agassi” (???), “Ardiles song” (unless this person is referring to “Ossie’s Dream”, the Spurs 1982 FA Cup Final song, I stumped – unless he had a solo singing career that I was previous unaware of), and “BBC rugby special theme tune” (I’m starting to recognise a pattern here). It would appear that I am the internet’s number one repository for crap TV sports theme tunes. Exactly as I planned it.
And that will do for tonight. I’m not on any major benders this weekend (at the time of writing), so this place might even be updated over the course of the weekend for once. When the results of the competition are in, I’ll post them up here – and, of course, if anything else pops up in the server logs, you’ll be the first to know.