Anorak News | Viva Espana

Viva Espana

by | 20th, September 2002

‘IF anyone were in any doubt as to which country has the best league in Europe (and by extension the world), this week’s Champions League results must surely have dispelled them.

”Is it just me or is this getting a bit boring?”

The Spanish clubs once again looked in a different class from the rest of Europe, led of course by Real Madrid who thumped AC Roma 3-0 in the Italian capital.

England has long kidded itself at the strength of its Premiership, but the record of English clubs in Europe really does not bear this out.

Only Manchester United have reached a European Cup final since English clubs were banned following the Heysel Stadium disaster of 1986.

By contrast, in the last five years, Real Madrid have reached the final three times (and won on every occasion) and Valencia have reached the final twice (and lost on both occasions).

Anyone who saw the way in which Valencia took Liverpool apart on Tuesday night would not be surprised if the Spaniards made a third final on four years.

Indeed, it may be that the only reason that Valencia were not in the final last year was because they didn’t even qualify for the competition through La Liga.

And whereas in England hopes tend to be pinned on Manchester United and Arsenal (despite the fact that the Gunners have never got past the quarter-finals in this competition), Spain have four very realistic challengers.

Barcelona look perhaps the weakest of the four, despite the fact that they made the semi-finals last year. Three first-half goals allowed the Catalans to stroll through most of their match against Club Brugge, although a late goal by the Belgians made the scoreline 3-2 and gave home fans a few nervous moments.

However, it was Deportivo who notched up the most impressive result of the evening, a Roy Makaay hat-trick securing a 3-2 win away at Bayern Munich.

Arsenal fans need no reminding about Deportivo’s pedigree and, although they were eventually knocked out by Manchester United last season, they are certainly not a side that any club will want to come up against.

Losing in Kiev is no disgrace, but Newcastle have their work cut out to get out of their group, while Liverpool will be pushed to repeat their quarter-final place of last year.

That leaves United and Arsenal to fly the English flag – and try to repel this Spanish armada.

Posted: 20th, September 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink