Date:Tuesday March 16 2010
Chelsea are out of the Champions League. It is funny in a way that their exit would happen less than a week after Real Madrid's - after all, the two clubs share a very similar attitude.
Both crave the Champions League - Madrid because the final will be in their stadium, Chelsea because that is Abramovich's greatest ambition - and during the summer, both tried to acquire the means to do it. Real Madrid signed a truckload of players with experience of winning the Champions League - Xabi Alonso, Kaká and of course Ronaldo have all lifted the trophy in recent years - while Chelsea brought to London the coach who has the best European record over the last decade.
Ancelotti won only one Serie A title with Milan yet reached three Champions League finals during his time with the club, winning two, an extraordinary achievement. So Abramovich's thinking looked sound. But there is a hitch and that is Mourinho whose current team, Inter Milan, outclassed Chelsea tonight and put them out of the competition.
Now, I'll admit that it's ironic that after getting a manager with the best possible Champions League credentials they go out at first knockout hurdle but is it good news for United? As far as I can see, there are two alternatives as far as the Premier League is concerned.
First is that Chelsea will benefit from being free of European exertions and will canter to the league title, taking advantage of our (and Arsenal's) extra workload.
The second option, and the one I'm hoping for, is that their confidence will dwindle and they will lumber through the season uninterestedly, the biggest stars saving themselves for the World Cup. I do not know which is more likely because both sound plausible enough. I'm praying for the latter, though.
As for the Champions League: it's undoubtedly great news. I hate playing against Chelsea and in general I hate playing against English teams in Europe because you don't get the same excitement, it simply isn't as glamorous, matching up to an opponent you know only too well and one you meet twice a year anyway.
Besides, I still think we have a better chance against Inter than against Chelsea. On paper they look a stronger team than Inter so on paper, the stronger team went out tonight which only increases our chances. Of course this kind of thinking is stupid because on the pitch, Inter were far superior and that's what matters...
Date:Tuesday March 16 2010
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