I'm not sure whether to be scared or turned on. Or both? I'm so confused! - Shaun Botterill
Across the gulf of prestige, regarding teams measurably superior to ours with envious eyes.
It's a new day and a new week, but it's still the first leg of the round of 16 in Europe's premier competition. The fact that the Champions League stretches out each leg of this first knockout round not only to multiple days but multiple weeks, too, seems far more annoying when your team is not in it.
Presumably this arrangement is justified by some rhetoric about how we should all be allowed a chance to bask in the glory of Europe's elite (while "they" bask in the glory of TV money and sponsorship money). I'm not really faulting UEFA for this of course - it's hard out there for money-grabbing pimps! - but when one day still serves up major dilemmas like Real vs. United and Shakhtar vs. Dortmund, while others end up like today ... well, it's just annoying. Especially when your team is not in it.
So, today. Your choices are - should you choose not to dabble instead in Championship football with either Nathanial Chalobah's Watford (away to Ipswich Town) or Josh McEachran's Middlesborough (away to Burnley):
Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich - You may remember Bayern from some silly little match that was played last May, wherein they Ballack'd their way to yet another runner-up spot (their stadium; our trophy!). This season though they've run away with the Bundesliga, their 15 point lead eclipsing even Manchester United's and Barcelona's leads in their respective leagues. Not content with this level of performance, they've even tabbed Josep Guardiola to lead them next season. Meanwhile at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger was given a new two-year contract extension. '<insert joke about trophies here>'. Well done, anti-Chelsea.
FC Porto vs. Málaga - Oh hey, look, an actual champion! Only of Portugal though, and that's not all that impressive anymore when you've won 8 out of the last 10. Porto's star forward and heir to Falcao, Jackson Martinez has 25 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions (20 from 19 in the Primeira Liga). That is impressive and I'm taking the over on the number of articles on summer transfer season rumors of Martinez-to-Chelsea (current line is 9.5). Speaking of Chelsea connections, Málaga are not only the current home of on-loan Lucas Piazón (eligible tonight), both their leading scorer and all-around wonderhobbit Isco and their manager Manuel Pellegrini have been linked with the Blues.