By now, it appears that both Manchester United and Arsenal will be advancing to the quarterfinals of UEFA Champions League competition in the beginning of April. Manchester United won 1-0 at home over Lyon, with the lone goal coming in the 41st minute from — surprise, surprise — Cristiano Ronaldo. Arsenal became the first English team ever to hand A.C. Milan a home loss with a 2-0 win, and both goals came in the closing minutes.
While I would have preferred to see the Manchester Utd.-Lyon game, I wound up watching the Milan-Arsenal match instead as the latter was the game ESPN2 chose to broadcast. In fact, it appears from looking at the ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel programming schedules for the month of March that the only Manchester United game I’ll be able to watch on TV all month will be this weekend’s F.A. Cup contest vs. Portsmouth. And, that won’t air here until several days after the fact, on March 11, apparently. Such are the joys of following European soccer in the United States.
I can’t say much about the Manchester United game, since I didn’t see any of it. As for Milan-Arsenal, after the first 20 minutes got out of the way, I quickly got the impression that any of the muttering over the last couple of weeks about the wheels coming off Arsenal’s season have proven to be grossly premature. Just as I was getting my hopes up, too. Over the course of the last 70 minutes or so, there was really no question which was the better side.
ESPN2 is broadcasting the Chelsea-Olympiacos Pieraios game as well tomorrow, so I’ll probably winding up catching a bit of that if I can as well. Oddly, Olympiacos’ home, Karaiskákis Stadium, is the only major European soccer stadium I’ve ever actually seen, having passed by it on the way to and from the port in Athens. I can’t help but wonder if ESPN will do anything with Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich — perhaps the most entertaining team owner in all professional sports. It could be quite a spectacle.
Speaking of quite a spectacle, today is the day of the Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island U.S. presidential primaries. Being a Democrat in Pennsylvania, I can’t help but be interested in it. The conventional wisdom at this point is that if Hillary Clinton wins in Texas and Ohio tonight, the demented circus known as the Democratic Party primary process (“Step right up ladies and gentlemen, and see the mysterious Superdelegate! A creature much like the sword swallower, except you’re the one left with a bitter, metallic taste in your mouth after witnessing it in action!”) will blow full-steam into my state tomorrow morning and not let up until the second half of April. It’s been a long time since we mattered out here in any presidential primary.
Tags: A.C. Milan, Arsenal, Champions League, Chelsea, Democratic Party, ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel, Lyon, Manchester United, Milan, Olympiacos, Pennsylvania, primaries, primary, Superdelegates, UEFA Champions League