The knock out rounds of the Champions League started up on Tuesday. While there are many interesting story lines and thoughts about the games, the biggest storyline isn't Wayne Rooney's continued dominance or Real Madrid's continued failure in the knock out rounds, it has to be the incredible goal scored by Paul Scholes in Manchester United's 3-2 win over AC Milan. Check it out in the video below. It comes at the 1:10 mark. It's the opposite of a golazo.
That has to be one of the luckiest goals ever. He tries to kick the ball with his right foot, completely whiffs like an 8 year old in AYSO, yet miraculously the ball deflects off his left foot which is planted on the ground and rolls into the side of the net. Anyone could have scored that goal. All you need is a shin. Not even a shin or a leg that can move. If you have a stationary body part, you too can score a goal in the Champions League.
There were other interesting observations from Tuesday's games. Since I'm already discussing the Manchester United/AC Milan game, I don't know how you stop Wayne Rooney. We might be witnessing one of the greatest individual seasons ever. I don't know how his season stats actually compare with single season records, but the way in which he is carrying Manchester United is incredible. Everyone expected somewhat of a drop off for Man U after C. Ronaldo left over the summer, but it hasn't happened. And it's not because some player stepped up and filled in Ronaldo's shoes. It's because Rooney decided to make up the difference on his own. Love or hate the guy, you have to admire his efforts this season and be impressed with how well he has done with the parts around him. Granted, we are talking about Man U here, the players around him aren't chumps; but they are when you compare them to the players at Chelsea who only maintain a 1 point lead on Man U in the standings. It's impressive.
Real Madrid v. Lyon
For the past 5 seasons, Real has failed to advance out of the round of 16 in the Champions League. 5 years, 5 different teams, 1 result: Juventus, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Roma and Liverpool. This year, it looks like it might be Lyon's turn.
Now, Lyon only won 1-0, and it was at Lyon. It's not like it's over for Real by any means. If Real Madrid does lose after the second leg, it will be interesting to discuss the true value and impact of C. Ronaldo. Granted, you can't pin all of this on him, especially since Real has had the same result over the past 5 seasons. But Man U seems to be perfectly fine without Ronaldo and Real actually seemed to be playing better as a team when he was out for a couple games with a red card.
I guess the main issue for Real though, is what do you do if you are yet again knocked out in the round of 16? Real Madrid spent over $250 million this past offseason purchasing various players - most notably, C. Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema and Xabi Alonso. $250 million! It's completely absurd to spend that money in the first place. But when you spend that type of money, anything short of a championship would be a disappointment. You know what would be even more disappointing? Spending that money and not improving - which is what has happened thus far this season. Real finished second in La Liga last season behind Barcelona. Currently, they are in second place in La Liga right behind Barcelona. Last year they were knocked out in the round of 16 of the Champions League, they are currently down 1-0 after their first game with Lyon in the round of 16.
Well, it makes for good drama. Not to mention the fact that Zidane is disappointed with the team. You can't disappoint Zidane.
Anyways, Real and Lyon play again on March 10 in Madrid. Love them or hate them, Real Madrid always makes things interesting. I don't know why March 10 will be any different. If you ahve $250 million on hand, you'll find out if it's enough to buy win, or at least advance to the quarter finals of the Champions League.