CL Line-up & March Madness

The draw for the CL is set and shape’s up like this:

2006/07 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals
1st leg: 03/04 April
2nd leg: 10/11 April
1 AC Milan (ITA) v FC Bayern München (GER)
2 PSV Eindhoven (NED) v Liverpool FC (ENG)
3 AS Roma (ITA) v Manchester United FC (ENG)
4 Chelsea FC (ENG) v Valencia CF (ESP)

(courtesy of www.uefa.com)

In the semis, winner of quarterfinal 1 plays 3 and 2 plays 4.  Which sets the stage for a possible rematch of the 2005 semi-final between Chelsea and Liverpool.  Delicious. 

At first glace, Milan, LP, Man U and Valencia are the picks.  But April is an eternity away as evidenced by PSV who just lost defensive linchpin and goal-scoring hero Alex to a possible torn hamstring at the weekend.  This is the time of year where injuries and cup competitions can drain a team quickly.  Both Man U and Chelsea are in the title race for the Premiership, the FA Cup (and both teams have replays) and the CL obviously.  That is a lot of football to play.  And neither of those teams have particularly deep squads. 

But March is college hoops.  Glad the Illini snuck into the tourney although Illini-Wisconsin game on Saturday was painful.  Be happy when Warren Carter and Rich McBride graduate.  Neither brings much to the table except on rare occasions.  Have an inkling that Illini could take Va. Tech in the 1st round.  Seems winnable. 

TTL would like to thank President Bush for changing time.  He is that powerful.  In perhaps the finest legislative piece passed by the Bush government, Daily Savings Time has been extended a few weeks.  (Wake up America!!).  Now Europe is only 5 hours ahead, so basketball viewing will commence at more normal times.  Final Four could even tip-off before midnight.  Coupled with the no-smoking laws being enforced TTL could actually stumble home before dawn wreaking of stale beer (but no smoke!) after countless hours of basketball enjoyment. 

March Madness is slowly catching on with European fans of basketball.  While the NBA is quite popular in certain countries (Germany & Italy especially) college is quite unknown.  Besides the occasional boat race down the Thames between Oxford&Cambridge, there are really no college sporting events on the European radar.  Europe embraces the club system wholeheartedly and most high schools and universities have no real sports program.  If one plays sports at this age they play for a club team.  And if the kids are really good, then they get picked up by one of the pro teams and play for their academies.   There is nothing like the Sooner nation or die-hard Alabama fans across Europe.  Which is too bad, as the concept of a crazed Frenchman rabidly supporting the Sorbonne would be great.     

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