What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
One of the world’s greatest sporting events starts again with yesterday’s the draw for the 2016-2017 UEFA Champions League. All the play-offs are over; we have a Group Stage comprised of 32 of European club football’s finest. Across nations, across “big or small,” there’s a little something for everybody.
So, here’s how the draw actually shakes out for the Group Stage:
The first thing you’ll notice is the absence of some of the “usual suspects.” No Manchester United, Chelsea; nor any of the smaller clubs we’re used to seeing like Anderlecht, Olympiakos, or Shaktar Donetsk. Instead, we will be treated to some new and/or different faces like Tottenham Hotspur, Legia Warsaw, and Ludogorets…and let’s not forget about last season’s English Premier League Cinderella Leicester City. Personally, a little part of me wants to see Celtic make a statement on the return of Scottish football. But, I’m not going to hold my breath.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice the Group Stage is chock full of tasty match-ups. There’s French royalty Paris Saint-Germain titlting at the Arsenal side led by out favorite Frenchman in Queen Elizabeth’s court. There’s Spaniard Pep Guardiola taking his new club Manchester City up against the Catalonian Goliaths in Barcelona. Who wouldn’t be interested in a two-leg rematch from last year’s two-fisted semi-final between Bayern Munich and Atlètico Madrid? And if one Germany vs. Spain tie isn’t enough for you, there’s always Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund.
Since I’m a devoteé of the English Premier League, I’m going to ask some EPL questions. I can’t be the only one who noticed both the English newcomers Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City got “inside rail” draws to get the the Knockout Round? Not that I would EVER suggest corruption in world football…but don’t you think the good people at UEFA would like to see an English side make a return to the finals, given the stupid-huge money involved in the EPL? Don’t forget the EPL is the only European League on basic cable in world soccer’s’ wet-dream market…our very own America. On top of that, Arsenal will struggle to win their group over Paris Saint-Germain, but they should advance over the likes of FC Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad (but I’m not sleeping on either of them to steal some points at home). On the matter of English questions, there really isn’t about the EPL team with the toughest row to hoe being Manchester City. The Citizens must deal with Barcelona and a sneaky-dangerous Borussia Mönchengladbach side if they wish to entertain their title hopes.
When it comes to Cinderellas, everybody eyes went straight to Leicester, but they surely are not the only ones taking the Champions League pitch in glass slippers. Russian side Rostov would love to be the belle of the ball, but to do so, they will need to make strong showings against evil step-mothers like Bayern Munich and Atlètico Madrid.
Lastly, there’s that whole Celtic thing. Yeah, I would love to see a revival of Scottish football, which isn’t helped by my status as a Liverpool supporter who drank the Kool-Aid on Brendan Rodgers. I’m a Kop-per who fell for the “Brodge,” but in the immortal words of Rod Stewart, when it comes to Celtic United, baby I’ve decided…I don’t think this is the year for the Glaswegians.
Having said all that, let’s take a look at how I think the Group Stage is going to end up.
Do you disagree with my assessment? Well, here’s your chance to put your money where your football is…well, not really since there really isn’t any money involved. But you do get smack-talking rights, which is really what bloggers and blog-readers are all about. Join the The Dubsism Champions League Challenge, which is your chance to take on America’s pre-eminent blogger who refuses to swallow the bullshit about the “improved” quality of Major League Soccer.
The UEFA Champions League Group Stage kicks off on begins on September 13, which conveniently enough is also the deadline to join the Dubsism Challenge. Get your picks in before the games start, then get your smack-talk kicks in!