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"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

English football's annus mirabilis?

The Champions League semifinals ended as expected, with the teams which scored in the first leg, making it through, after (surprising) nil-nil draws over the last two nights. Barcelona have surprised no one by sailing through to the finals; Arsenal are anything but. The final should be an interesting match-up, as it pits two teams that are bent upon playing attacking football, punctuated by slick passing and dynamism.

In a way, the 2005-06 season has been one of the best for English football in recent years. Not maybe in terms of domination. But given the number of teams that have come good in various competitions.

Chelsea are one point away from winning the league, and retaining their title as champions of England. Manchester United, who are pushing them, won the Carling Cup. Liverpool and West Ham United will face off in the finals of the FA Cup in May. Arsenal, despite a poor domestic season, are in the finals of the Champions League. And if Middlesbrough can overturn a 1-0 deficit at home tonight against Romania's Steaua Bucharest, they will be in the final of the UEFA Cup.

If the Gunners and Boro go all the way, England would have clean-sweeped Europe. That may still be a far-off dream, but English clubs have had a thing or two going their way this season. Interestingly, it is not the case of one club dominating the others, as in 1999, when United won the treble. The two surprise packages this season are West Ham and Wigan Athletic. Both clubs, in their first season back in the top flight have reached the finals of the domestic Cups.

English football's hopes don't stop there. The prayers of that small island would be pinned on the national team winning the World Cup in Germany. Most people agree that the current England squad is probably the best England has managed to field in the past few World Cups. Rooney is in sublime form. Gerrard, Lampard and Joe Cole are in superb touch. And captain Beckham can suddenly push his football to an inspiring level. Defensive worries still plague Eriksson's team, but given the attacking strength, England would start among the favorites for football's highest prize.

This could be England's best footballing year yet. But it's funny old game. Ronaldinho, that smiling assassin, can pour cold water on all those hopes - twice over!

2 Comments:

Blogger Selva said...

Who will be partnering Rooney as the second forward?

I saw the match betn barca and milan, the first few minutes were extremely promising and I expected a lot more fireworks from the two great teams. I was a little disappointed.

4/28/2006 01:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

Owen, most probably.

Incidentally, Boro have beaten Steaua 4-2 to reach the finals of the UEFA Cup. So it is England v/s Spain in both the European competitions.

4/28/2006 11:13:00 AM  

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