Yesterday’s column illustrated the joys that can might not otherwise be found in the Asian Champions League. We’d suggest jumping on board with this now and then you can pretend you were way ahead of the curve when Sky start showing the rights after China continue to hoover up all the Premier League’s castaways. You won’t impress your friends, your family won’t look at you the same way but let’s face it, that battle had been lost long ago. It could be worse however, you could be Carlos Tevez. He may have earned about a billion pounds while doing so but let’s all laugh at him and his Shanghai Shenhua side who earlier today succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Australian Big Bash side Brisbane Roar. What do you mean they’re not a cricket team?
From one Champions League to another. No Leicester didn’t lose to Sevilla while you weren’t looking, that’s still to come. They did emerge from their hibernation long enough to score this decent effort against the Derby reserves though. We guarantee that some executives in charge of the CheckTrade trophy think that last night is justification for their Frankenstein abomination of a tournament. But we digress. Lighter news in the Copa Libertadores.
Argentine side Atletico Tucuman travelled to Ecuador to take on El Nacional, a sentence which doesn’t even begin to tell the story. Drawing 2-2 from the first leg, they would eventually go on to win 1-0 and claim their place in the next round of qualifying. That in of itself – given the ground they were playing on was almost 3000 meters above sea level is no mean feat. Especially when you turn up late and very nearly don’t make the game at all. A mix up with the airlines meant the squad would barely have time to arrive in Quito ahead of the forty five minute delay that is permitted. It was then they discovered that they’d forgotten their kit. Fortunately for them the South American U20 Championships is taking place right now and the Argentine side had lost to their Ecuadorian counterparts in that very ground not days before. In the ultimate act of revenge Tucuman (or Tuck you man) took to the field wearing the Argentina U20 kit and in spite of all that managed to pull out the win. We would perhaps advocate one of the English sides try something similar in the Champions League but the only way Arsenal have even less chance of winning it is if they’re wearing the full England kit.
Back in mainland Europe, with the biggest shock probably coming in France where we checked the Ligue 1 table and PSG aren’t top. That’s not nice. Oh no sorry, it’s not Nice either. Tottenham’s champions league conquerors Monaco are. In Italy, AC Milan ended their game with nine men. Thankfully they were playing Bologna (of recently being smashed 7-1 at home fame). Gerard Deulofeu set up the only goal of the game, prompting Everton fans to consider having him back for 0.4 seconds before deciding that they were better off.
To the cups! while Leicester and Derby were doing their best to prove the theory that the magic of the cup is not only dead, it’s corpse is off somewhere chasing Andrew Lincoln around there were still some notable games elsewhere. In Germany, third division Sportfreunde Lotte beat 1860 Munich to book their place in the quarter finals of the DFB Pokal and set up a mouthwatering tie against Borussia Dortmund. The small side from the north of Germany have already beaten Bayer Leverkusen and Werder Bremen in this years competition. It’s not quite Sutton United versus Arsenal but I mean really, one team has a great chance actually winning a trophy here. The other is Arsenal.
Next up, remember May 2001? Nothing bad happened in May 2001. Unless you’re an Alaves fan. The combined powers of Jordi Cruyff, Javi Moreno, Cosmin Contra and Oscar Tellez (they definitely chanted “Tellez from Alavez”) were unable to stop Liverpool, or more specifically, Liverpool’s ability to emerge victorious from the most random of finals. That’s probably the last time anyone heard the name. They’ve even been in the Segunda division since 2006, if only to emphasise our point. In their first season back in the top flight (ironically enough, managed by a former Liverpool player. We’ll let you google it. Then google him), they’ve gone on a similar run to that of their old UEFA Cup cohorts. Tonight’s 1-0 win (2-0 on aggregate) over Celta Vigo grants them access to their first ever Copa Del Rey final and their second final ever. On the basis of this gigantic victory, we’re going to give tonight’s award to Llorente. Not that one.
On loan from Real Madrid (who would certainly love for him to beat rivals Barca in the final) he has along with local boy Manu Garcia forged a formidable midfield partnership. Alaves don’t have to wait long to get their teeth into their final opponents with Barcelona coming to the Mendizorrotza this weekend. Whatever happens then and in the final, we hope it’s just as entertaining as the last time they were in a final. At least it can’t be decided by golden goal this time.