By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam
With the excitement generated from one superlative and three mediocre Champions League ties over the last week, it would not be a great shame to have overlooked what could perhaps have been the most dramatic game of the season. Except it would.
And for all those who missed the Getafe v Bayern Munich UEFA Cup tie at the Madrid side's compact 16,000 stadium this would be the time to hit yourselves over the head.
I understand how the UEFA Cup is not really top of the agenda, but if you are fan of drama first and football second, this would be your tie of the year by a distance.
Not that I will waste time with match-reports, since a google-up will provide you with countless.
None however will come close to describing the first minute hack of the line, the sixth minute red card to the Spaniards, the subsequent free-kick onto the bar, the disallowed goal, Getafe scoring and holding on for 89 minutes (following their 1-1 draw in Munich), or Ribery's stunning volleyed equalizer.
Nor will it showcase, Getafe dissuading all odds with Gasquero's stunning striker followed up by another goal, a 3-1 lead to hold onto with 20 minutes remaining. Or how they held onto it for 19 minutes and 50 seconds of that 20 before Luca Toni rose, and with some help from an advanced Oliver Kahn, to break their Spanish hearts.
As far as drama went, nothing I have seen in quite a while even came close. Watch the replay if you get the chance (on Zee Sports).
After the match Kahn said, “I have never been involved in something like this. It's unbelievable. Ten years from now, we will not talk of Barcelona or Milan but of Getafe.”
This from one of the game's giants and who has more European caps (140) than anyone bar Paolo Maldini.
Anyways, on now to more conventional action.
Arsenal v Liverpool, offence v defence, pass-masters v bores. Only the Kop didn't read the script. They scored four, one quite uniquely described as a 'dodgy penalty' and sent the misfiring and terribly thin-looking Gunners home with the prospect of another season trophy-less. Three barren years is it?
What this means is that three English teams are in the Champions League semi-finals and the press are having a field day making up for having no England at the Euros. (Honestly how many Englishmen play in those teams?)
Liverpool have been rewarded with a Chelsea tie (yawn!) while the other semi is an absolute storm of a tie Manchester United v Barcelona.
Arguably the two most attractive football teams in the world a the moment, the Catalans will be shorn of Ronaldinho, but this is the perfect opportunity for a mini-battle Lionel Messi v Cristiano Ronaldo and I am so looking forward to it.
While the Premier League has been quite surprisingly close this season, around the rest of Europe, 2008 has been painfully mediocre. In Spain, Real Madrid have let Barca have a go at the buffet table more times than what politeness dictates is necessary.
Not to be outdone, Barca have been polite right back refusing every single opportunity to the point that they let Villarreal take their place in line.
Bayern have played well only in fits and starts and their inability to close down games they utterly dominate have meant that they haven't wrapped up the Bundesliga yet.
In Italy, Inter Milan looked champions elect and a shoe-in for Champions League glory in December. A few months in, they lead Roma by one point (as of writing, with a game in hand). Watch out for that title race.
It's been a shoddy year apart from some standout performers. Raul looks reinvigorated, Luca Toni, Miro Klose and Franck Ribery have dragged an otherwise reluctant Bayern. Zlatan Ibrahimovic shied away against Liverpool but his goals have kept Inter in it. Karim Benzema's strikes similarly see Lyon atleast restoring to type.
Maybe the players are saving themselves for Euro 2008. Tune in for it at June.
How many of you are keeping an eye on the Formula 1 season? It looks like being a humdinger. Hamilton/MaClaren or Kimi/Ferrari. Stay tuned. I'm looking forward to the floodlit races.
Also stay tuned for the tennis season to explode. Wimbledon and the French Open are just around the corner. Federer and Henin may have dominated the sports in the years by gone but even Roddick's bettering the Swiss now and the female-lookers Sharapova and Ivanovic have taken impressive strides this season. That's shaping up well.
(So who do you fancy in the semis of the Champions League? Man U or Barca? Chelsea or Liverpool? Think Hamilton's going to end last season's jinx? Ivanovic or Sharapova?
Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org )
A Friend and his wife were considering travelling to Alaska for a trip that the husband had long dreamed of taking. He kept talking about how great it would be to stay in a log cabin without electricity, to hunt moose, and drive a dog team instead of a car.
"If we decided to live there permanently, away from civilization, what would you miss the most?" he asked his wife.
"NO! NO! NO!" she screamed.
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