World Soccer views and news
A new Champions League era or just a blip?
As many French teams in the Champions League quarter-finals as English clubs and only one Spanish side through.
Does this mark a sea change in Europe or is it just a freak season like 2004 (the last time two French teams reached the last eight)?
To be fair to Lyon and Bordeaux, they deserved to qualify with Lyon overcoming the mighty Real Madrid and Bordeaux beginning to look a real good outside bet to go all the way. You’d get decent money on Arsenal and Bayern Munich too, who could easily chart a path to the Bernabeu in May.
Eliminated Liverpool are having one of those terrible seasons which afflict top sides now and then but Chelsea’s exit and the manner of their weak home defeat to Inter Milan was the biggest surprise of the last 16.
Italian football had been castigated after AC Milan’s thrashing by Manchester United but Inter showed Serie A is not done for yet, especially with a maestro like Jose Mourinho in charge.
Most teams will fancy CSKA Moscow in Friday’s last-eight draw but after the Russians impressively disposed of Sevilla that might be too much wishful thinking.
Of course there is one side we haven’t mentioned, wonderful defending champions Barcelona. They are clear favourites for the trophy after more Messi magic finished off Stuttgart but Wayne Rooney and the United boys are only just behind with most bookmakers.
It’s an open draw on Friday and a Barca v United tie would be a shame so early on, but this year’s Champions League seems full of surprises.
PHOTO: Girondins Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc reacts during their Champions League soccer match against Olympiakos at the Chaban Delmas stadium in Bordeaux, southwestern France, March 17, 2010. REUTERS/Olivier Pon