Thursday, August 27, 2009

Champions League: The Aftermath..

So Celtic lost their Champions League qualifier against Arsenal last night after 2 frustrating legs of the tie. The first one more or less won it at Celtic Park, with 2 Arsenal away goals which were quite lucky. One late first half free kick, heavily deflected, wrong footed Boruc and one Caldwell own goal later in the game.. =(
I say they were lucky, but Arsenal did have a lot of chances to score at other times, so I guess the constant flowing game and pressure they put on the Celtic defense paid off. Still, it was a hard result to accept for me. If those goals hadn't gone in the 2nd leg would have been there to win. Still, shit happens. Here's a video with some highlights: [Link]

Arsenal 2 - 0 Celtic (Agg 2 - 0) 1st Leg, Final Round Champions League Qualifier, 18.08.09

So that was the first leg, a week ago. The 2nd leg in London proved just as excruciating if not moreso than the first. Early on, a controversial penalty was given to Arsenal. Here's a highlights video: [Link] This to me, and a whole load of other people looked like a complete dive. No contact was really made with Eduardo by Boruc it seemed, yet a pen was given and Eduardo put it away to make it 1-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate... It only got worse as the night went on. McDonald scored not long after, but it was ruled offside (which it was. >.<) Arsenal had many more chances throughout the night and it ended up 3-1, Celtic scoring a concelation (sp?) goal with the last kick of the match. Arsenal 3 - 1 Celtic (Agg 5 - 1) 2nd Leg, Final Round Champions League Qualifier, 26.08.09 So there are a few things I thought I'd talk/rant about. (I'll try keep it brief so you don't lose interest) First, the amount of money Arsenal have available for transfers, wages, training etc. Scottish clubs have a lot less money compared to big sides like Arsenal, Man Utd, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan etc. and this really impacts on the players they can bring to the sides and the progress they can make in the European competitions (Champions League and the now Europa League.) I guess that gulf in spending power and skill really showed over the 2 legs of this Champions League Qualifier, depressing... They had Gordon Strachan in the studio for the first leg analysis during half time and after the game and he talked about this issue as well. It does seem that there really isn't much that can be done about it apart from giving Scottish clubs and other smaller European teams more money. There must be some ways they can even out the playing field a bit, because there is a huge divide it seems. This may seem like me moaning and trying to make excuses but its not, I can accept the defeat and move on, I just wanted to post some football related stuff as I don't do it often. Anyway, now for the core of the rant. You could probably guess it was going to be about the Eduardo penalty. Well yeah, how could I not be pissed off it at? I almost broke a chair when I saw the ref had given it. Watch some highlights or news if you haven't seen it already (I linked earlier on) and you'll see that there wasn't really a lot of contact and Eduardo seemed to go down pretty easy. I really hate that diving or "simulation" as various football commentators have called it is part of the game still so much a part of the doesn't really go in the spirit of the game and I think referees and officials should hand out more punishment for when they don't get tricked by stupid theatrics, yellow cards, red cards-whatever might stop it happening. However, I don't think it should stop there. Nope, thats not enough in some cases. Fair enough in the Celtic Arsenal game last night, it was already 2-0 on aggregate beforehand and this wasn't a tie-breaking decision by any means. In some games though, big decisions by officials really have cost teams badly and I think that should really stop. I said last night, I would accept the result and forget about it as long as Eduardo got punished for his "acting" skills in some way. I wanted a fine or a ban and it seems I'm not the only one who desires this.

SFA chief is calling for UEFA to ban Eduardo for this dive, the articles also talk about video evidence and other stuff.

Anyway, I am running out of time (I need to get to the post office to pick something up.) Now that Champions League football is off the cards for Celtic, the Europa League final qualifying round is the next european fixture, drawn on Friday I think, but I'm not 100% sure on that. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not sure, on one hand it will mean a lot more fixtures this year if Celtic are to make good progress through the new format for the Uefa Cup (now known as the Europa League) and this could end up tiring the squad out towards the end of the season. On the other hand, we will get a lot more chances to see Celtic playing other European sides, and I love watching European midweek games.

Edit: I just found out here that I was wrong and that Celtic will be going into the Europa League group stages, and not the final qualifier round. The draw is tomorrow, lets hope its a good one! =p

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