Tuesday, April 26, 2005

UEFA Champion's League Semifinals

Dutch underdogs PSV Eindhoven should have pulled off the upset tonight in Milan. For an American sports analogue, that would've been like Temple beating Duke or North Carolina in the Final Four--PSV is successful on a small scale, but Milan's history dwarfs them. Milan looked like they would be able to waltz off with an easy victory after bombarding the PSV goal in the first 15 minutes, but were denied. PSV's defense stiffened for most of the rest of the first half, but a team cannot afford to lapse even for an instant against futbol genius Andriy Shevchenko, and Sheva made them pay. PSV played the second half a blistering pace, and the first half hour of the second half was one of the more exciting stretches of scoreless soccer I've experienced. Milan then snatched an undeserved goal at the very end of the game to take a 2-0 advantage into the second leg. PSV will have to win 3-0 at home to advance--Milan will pretty much seal the deal if they score even one away goal. Given that two of PSV's starters will be suspended for the next leg, I doubt 3-0 can happen for them. It's really a shame, because Sheva aside, PSV are one of the most entertaining teams in Europe, with their assorted collection of blazing attackers with catchy names: Peruvian Jefferson Farfán, Korean Ji-Sung Park, American DaMarcus Beasley, and Dutchmen Mark van Bommel and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Seriously, who wouldn't want to see all those names advance? Unfortunately, none of these players could finish tonight, directing all their shots directly into the arms of the keeper or blasting over the bar. Who knows--if they regain their touch in Eindhoven, they could move on, but with Milan's stout defense, 3 goals may be asking for too much. If PSV had scored just 1 to make the final 2-1, they would have only needed a 1-0 or 2-1 victory next week, a far more likely result. Unfortunately, they can only wonder at what might have been.

Chelsea v. Liverpool tomorrow, which is the biggest match in British soccer this year (and that's saying a lot). Liverpool is hoping the 4th time will be the charm, but their defense is just too shaky. Chelsea is too balanced to lose this game.

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