This Wednesday the first leg of the Round of 16 in the Champions League begins for two of the worlds most storied clubs. If you are not a soccer fan but love greatness in sports, let me give you 5 reasons to watch this matchup.
These two teams are comprised of some the world’s greatest players. Despite Real Madrid’s La Liga woes this season, they still have the quality to compete with the best clubs. The spanish side will bring with them the likes of Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso, but all eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is the former Manchester United striker who led the Red Devils to 3 consecutive Premier Championships and a Champions League title in ’08 in his time at Old Trafford.
Manchester United can also boast some of the world’s finest goal scorers with the likes of Dutch national Robin Van Persie and England’s Wayne Rooney. WIth RVP’s introduction to the club, an immediate requirement was for these two too form a partnership on the pitch. Van Persie has relieved the pressure that Rooney faced after Ronaldo’s departure. He is not forced to be the sole goal scorer and United does not lean so heavily on one man to control the ball on the attacking side of the field. You will see great passing and plenty of attempts on goal that will push the defenses to their brinks.
The managers on the sidelines of these two clubs are considered 2 of the top 5 in the world. Sir Alex Ferguson has manned the United sideline since 1986. He has won 12 Premier League titles and 2 Champions League titles (’98-99, ’07-’08)…and he was Knighted by the Queen in 1999! His counterpart is actually one his great friends in the world of football, Jose Mourinho. Mourinho is so good his nickname is “The Special One”! He has managed 2 different clubs to Champions League titles (Chelsea ’07, Inter ’10) He can certainly be very controversial and eccentric as Real Madrids league woes have shined a light on some of his tactics. Yet, no one can deny his ability to command greatness.
It’s Not The MLS
America has flirted with soccer for a long time and it’s previous peak in the relationship occurred 40 years ago with Pele and the Cosmos in the North American Soccer League.
Yet, many American sports fans still can not embrace the world’s most popular sport on a regular basis. Every few years though the Olympics and the World Cup find their way into the mainstream…Why? I truly believe fans know they are watching first class soccer players. Unlike the MLS and it’s smattering of talent, teams in the Champions League Knockout Stage are the world’s best. I believe American sports fans know the difference, even if they don’t know the sport. The continued push by ESPN, Fox Sports, and NBC Sports of Europe’s top leagues will help to find the heart of true American sports fan because they can admire greatness no matter the sport.
Everyone Is Watching!
Last year’s Premier League matchup between Manchester United and Manchester City is said to have had over 600 million television viewers…How could that many people be wrong in their choice of entertainment? If you don’t have Fox Soccer Channel (619 Directv) to watch/DVR the game on Wednesday go to SoccerBars.com and find a watering hole to pull up a stool to watch. In Louisville, Molly Malone’s is recognized as your best choice. Yet, any sports bar will have this channel and I am sure they will be more than happy to oblige you by putting the match on.
Yeah that Gus Johnson! According to reports Gus has been practicing with games in testing phases and could prove to make the excitement on the pitch come through in his live call of this amazing matchup. Fox has acquired the rights to the next World Cup and Johnson will be their feature color commentator. Johnson is one of the best on the mic and I can’t wait!