UEFA Champions League and English Premier League

The UEFA Champions League has reached its semi final stage. The 1st leg of the 1st semi final will be played between FC Barcelona and Inter Milan on April 20th, 2010; and the other semi final is to be played between Bayern Munich and Olympique Lyon. Barcelona made it to the semi finals after defeating Arsenal FC 4-1 in the 2nd leg of the quarter finals few weeks back. It was yet another magical performance from Lionel Messi (for Barcelona) as he scored all the 4 goals for them. All different yet all wonderful to watch. Sheer elegance, class, and touch of genius form Messi. No wonder that is why he is the best footballer in the world right now. Arsenal had got an early 1-0 lead, but from then on it was all Barcelona, and Arsenal never really looked to come back. Although the reason for such a defeat could be attributed to the fact that several key players were missing from the Arsenal squad, including their captain Fabregas.

Inter Milan somehow faced not-so-tough opponents in the quarter final, and easily came through to semis by defeating CSKA Moscow 1-0 in both the legs.

The 1st leg of 2nd semi final will be played between Bayern Munich and Olympique Lyon on April 21st. Bayern Munich played Manchester United in the quarters. Bayern knocked Manchester out of the competition by defeating them 2-1 at home in 1st leg and then getting 2 away goals at Manchester’s home ground in the 2nd leg. Although Manchester United won the 2nd leg 3-2 but they were out of the competition on away goals rule, after the aggregate scores were tied at 4-4. Manchester United were leading 3-0 during the first half but then two 2nd half goals – first from Olic, and then a superb 2nd from Arjen Robben on a volley from Ribery’s corner, were enough to sail Bayern through to the semis. O Lyon made it to the semis by defeating Bordeaux in the quarters 3-1 and 0-1, winning 3-2 on aggregate.

With the semi finals fixtures lined up, it seems very likely that the winner of the Inter and Barcelona clash will meet Bayern in the finals this time, as Bayern face a relatively easier opponent, but then again we will have to wait and watch.

Another fact that should be remembered is that this time there are no English teams that have made it to the semi finals of UEFA Champions League ! This does not happen very often, but this season is an exception with all the four big English clubs – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool out of the competition and new teams taking their place.

In the English Premier League, the title race is heating up with only 3 games left to play. Chelsea is leading the table after they defeated Manchester United 2-1 in a pretty fierce battle, couple of weeks back. It was a good game, and Joe Cole and Drogba scored for Chelsea to put them on the top of the table. But this weekend Chelsea lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspurs and Manchester United defeated their city rivals Manchester City 1-0, in order to cut the gap with Chelsea just to 1 point. It was a game that was mostly dominated by Man United, but they had to wait until the injury time of the 2nd half to get their much deserved goal form a Paul Scholes’ header, with only 10 seconds left on the clock to spare. What a time to score and win the match! But all is well that ends well and ManU got the much needed 3 points from the game. Arsenal who are currently at number 3 in the league, and some weeks back the battle was on between all these 3 clubs for the EPL title, but now after they lost to Wigan Athletic 3-2 in a shocking turn of events this Sunday, they are pretty much out of the race with only 3 games left to play, and they are 6 points behind the leaders Chelsea. However between Chelsea and Man U it is going to be a dying battle till the very end of the season. Not very often is the race for the title so close and it is going to be interesting to see if the champions – Manchester United can retain their title, or will it be Chelsea FC this time who lift it.