Soccer fans don’t have NBA withdrawal; we have the Champions League. And with all the drama Wednesday night – including Bayern Leverkusen’s upset of Chelsea, Valencia’s 7-0 demolishing of Genk and Arsenal being the only English club to secure a spot in the knock-out stage – the match all fans anticipated with FC Barcelona and AC Milan lived up to the hype.
Bayern Leverkusen 2 Chelsea 1
In Beyonce’s “Party” video, there was an extra wearing a Chelsea jersey. That guy may be burning that shirt right now after the heartbreaker of a loss they had. Didier Drogba’s goal in the 48th gave Chelsea the early lead and with the Ivory Coast international back to scoring ways, it looked like the English Club would get out of their string of bad luck. The match seemed headed to a 1-1 draw after a Leverkusen goal in the 73rd to level the score. But on the last play of the match, Manuel Friedrich headed in a goal to give Bayern Leverkusen not only the win but the top spot in group E.
Arsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 1
Don’t let the score fool you, Arsenal had this one in the bag. The Gunners had many chances to score slip from their grasp but with an Alex Song escape of two defenders to cross Rob Van Persie for the heading goal, the momentum leaned toward the North London club. Another set piece strike from Van Persie sealed the victory and Dortmund’s late goal in the 90th gave the German club one shinning light as they sit on the bottom of Group F. I contribute Arsenal’s winning ways to Song’s shaving of his dyed blond beard. Either way, I’m glad I don’t have to look at that thing anymore.
Valencia 7 KRC Genk 0
When it comes to beer, I pick Belgium over Spain any day, but this is futbol. The hat trick from Valencia’s Roberto Soldado in addition to four more from the Spanish club became the second biggest win by a team in Champions League history. The game felt like someone was playing FIFA 12 in amateur mode. In the same group as Chelsea, this sets up the match up between both squads with the victor moving on to the knockout stage. In the meantime, Genk can sip on a Hoegaarden as they sit on their group’s wine cellar.
FC Barcelona 3 AC Milan 2
This was the match everyone looked forward to seeing this week. With the amazing 2-2 draw last time these clubs met, the fans weren’t disappointed with action throughout the whole 90 minutes. With an early own goal from AC Milan’s Mark Van Bommel (“14) and a quick response goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic (“20), Barcelona took the lead after a second attempt penalty by Leo Messi (“31). The Argentine superstar got booked with a yellow card when his illegal stutter step strike was nullified. In the second half Milan struck back with style with an amazing shot from Kevin Prince Boateng (“54). The catch-cross-strike was the goal of the week in my eyes as the Italians equalized. Barcelona would come back as the reigning champions proved why they are the best in the world as Messi threaded a pass through four defenders to connect with Xavi Hernandez for the winning goal in the 63rd minute. With but teams already advancing to the next round, the hope that they meet again will be as good as the Finals.
With Wednesday night’s excitement trumping Tuesday’s games including a high scoring Real Madrid stomping, a surprising loss from Manchester City and an equaling surprising draw from their cross town rivals Manchester United, its good to see that even in the early stages The UEFA Champions League is full of sporting drama. With the NBA still far from reaching an agreement, this can take its place in the interim. If you don’t like soccer, there’s still the NFL so you’ll live.
To see the rest of the matches and results check out UEFA.