December 1, 2021

UEFA…Then There Were Four

UEFA Champions League
Home and home competition between Europe’s top football (soccer) clubs from each of Europe’s top domestic leagues: England, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, etc.

Purpose: Determine Europe’s top club team.

Manchester United vs. Porto

Defending UEFA Champions, Manchester United, returned to the UEFA Champions League semifinal for a second consecutive year behind an amazing goal from perhaps the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo.

With only six minutes played, Ronaldo collected a pass from Anderson and let rip a shot from 30+ yards from goal. Porto keeper, Helton, had little chance of stopping the potent, imaginative strike.

United faced an uphill challenge after tying Porto 2-2 at Old Trafford in United’s home leg of the competition. Following the first leg, Porto was tied on aggregate goals (2-2) and held a significant lead in away goals (2-0). Additionally, no English team had ever beaten Porto on their home pitch.

On this night, however, United was more than up to the challenge. With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic anchoring United’s defense, Porto were unable to find an equalizer despite three close attempts by Porto’s Bruno Alves during the opening period.

Next for United are Arsenal as for the second consecutive year three English teams—Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal—advance to the Champions League semifinals.

Arsenal vs. Villarreal

Tied 1-1 on aggregate goals after the first leg of their Champions League match with Villarreal, the Arsenal squad understood the challenge ahead of them: win the second leg of the competition by one goal or more to advance to the Champions League semifinals.

In Arsenal’s favor was Emirates Stadium, The Gunner’s home pitch. With the home fans behind them, Arsenal quickly left little doubt regarding the match’s outcome.

Theo Walcott’s strike at the ten-minute mark put Arsenal ahead to stay. Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie added to the score sheet in the 60th and 69th minute marks respectively, leading Arsenal to a decisive 4-1 win on aggregate.

Coach Arsen Wenger’s young Arsenal team looked dangerous and confident in dispatching a formidable Villarreal squad, setting the stage for a semifinal clash with defending Champions League title holders, Manchester United.

The pending Manchester United v. Arsenal semifinal has many delicious subplots: Wenger’s ongoing rivalry with United’s iconic manager, Alex Ferguson and Arsenal’s youth and talent v. United’s experience and formidable squad of defending champions. Whoever should emerge victorious, it’s positioned to be a classic for football (soccer) fans around the world.

May the best team win….