Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Subservient League

Morning all.

Today saw the groups and fixtures released for the UEFA cup and I will pardon you for not leaping up and down with excitement. This competition now looks like the poor bastard love child of the Champions League.

If you can't see it yet, just wait until next year.

Join me after the jump to look at the impending changes and all of this year's important fixtures involving the English sides... Tottenham, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Aston Villa.

Why oh why oh why oh why does the UEFA Cup have to be in a league format? Well that's a rhetorical question but its retarded. Money aside, the UEFA Cup worked as as a separate knock out competition and it was this "difference" from the Champions League that actually made it unique and gave 5th, 6th and 7th place domestic league finishers some European credibility.

Now? Its a poor man's Champions League! [Ed. Note: it's why it's widely known as Little Cup to the CL's Big Cup] One in which you don't even get to play each team at home! Nope, now you are drawn to play two games at home and two games away.

This is retarded. It has to be all or nothing. Do it properly or do not bother. This format is typical of UEFA's willingness to make changes on a whim under the leadership of their principle buffoon Mr Platini, a man who opens his mouth more often than Divine Brown. At least she served a purpose.

Let's pretend you are Hull and you make it Europe, (hey it's possible...) only to be told that you will play AC Milan away (not this year though) but they won't be expected to visit you in a second leg. It's absolute nonsense!

The rules and regulations surrounding this competition have changed so often it is hard to keep up. The loss of two legs and the addition of Champions League "losers" at a later stage has made this competition a fixtures draw lottery. Maybe Harry Redknapp, Juande Ramos and Mark Hughes would do better to buy a scratch-and-win card at the nearest paper shop. Talking of gambling, how long before the home advantage finds it's way into a fixing probe?

This competition should be renamed The European Subservient League... But wait. It gets better.

From 2009 on, this competition will feature FORTY EIGHT teams inhabiting TWELVE groups and be renamed The Europa League! People watched the UEFA Cup because it was an exciting knock-out tournament that featured regular giant-killing, special European nights and once-in-a-lifetime chances for fans to see European monsters in their back yard. Now it's just a poor man's Champions League that favors the big boys.

Anyway... let's take a look at this year's Subservient League groups (released today) and pretend we give a shit shall we?

Group A: Schalke 04, Paris St Germain, MANCHESTER CITY, Racing Santander, FC Twente

Group B: Benfica, Olympiakos, Galatasaray, Hertha Berlin, Metalist Kharkiv

Group C: Sevilla, Stuttgart, Sampdoria, Partizan Belgrade, Standard Liege

Group D: TOTTENHAM, Spartak Moscow, Udinese, Dinamo Zagreb, NEC Nijmegen

Group E: AC Milan, Heerenveen, SC Braga, PORTSMOUTH, Vfl Wolfsburg

Group F: Hamburg, Ajax, Slavia Prague, ASTON VILLA, MSK Zilina

Group G: Valencia, Club Brugge, Rosenborg, FC Copenhagen, Saint-Etienne

Group H: CSKA Moscow, Deportiva La Coruna, Feyenoord, Nancy, Lech Poznan

Manchester City's group looks tough. Sparky Hughes' men will face PSG (3 Dec) and an easy-ish Steve McClown FC Twente team (6 Nov) at home before hitting the road to play Schalke (27 Nov) and Santander (18 Dec).

Portsmouth lucked out with AC Milan (if such a thing is possible) as the Italian giants will visit Fratton Park on the 27th November. Pompey will travel to Braga (23rd Oct) and Wolfsburg (4th Dec) before their last group game at home to Heerenveen on the 17th of December. Braga are certainly beatable on the road and the home advantage in the Milan tie is HUGE. I can see Pompey progressing.

Villa have a tough task ahead of them as they open their European campaign at home to Ajax before heading to Prague on the 6th of November. They finish group play with an extremely tough trip to Hamburg on the 17th of December. Hamburg are no push over either, as they currently sit at the top of the Bundesliga table after 7 games

As for Tottenham, who knows? The way they are currently playing and the selecting their players writes off any kind of prediction. At least they don't have to travel to colder climates during the league stage. Both Spartak Moscow and Zagreb will travel to White Hart Lane. Trips to Udinese and NEC Nijmegen don't exactly look daunting but then again, neither did Hull at home!



BerbaBent said...

Cmon Juande. Need a little of your Cup magic about now

Precious Roy said...

Ramos would draw the first lottery ticket showing that he owed the state money.

The Fan's Attic said...

As Mark Cuban once said, "every billion dollars your dick grows an inch," hence the need for a bigger CL cup.

Andrew said...

Subservience aside, the groups look exciting. Good teams with good history. Looking forward to Villa taking on Hamburg and Ajax.

BerbaBent said...

Villa are interesting. Quality side and doing things correctly in Prem. For the Villa boys, you have started same 11 in every Prem game which is great. Do you have the depth to compete on all fronts as they will eventually get knackered. Is UEFA just gravy or will MON put his best side out and rotate more in the league eventually. Thoughts?

The Likely Lad said...

spurs should withdraw from this stupid football NIT and focus on the league. It's not like they'll even have the opportunity to build on a goo dshowing. unless they win that Man City fair play award...

Matt said...

Despite it being a diddy cup, Group A looks entertaining. Although my team is looking like it in January, I'm glad to see many of these teams will NOT be in the competition still.

Keith said...

BB, here's what our midfield selection look like at the mo'- we could put out a starting XI of just midfielders and still be pretty competitive:

Young, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Milner, Sidwell, Routledge, Gardner, Osbourne, Salifou

In that regard, we're fine. We're a little thin at striker (where we've got Carew, Agbonlahor, Harewood, Delfuoneso and Young or Salifou as contingency strikers) and fullback (Luke Young, Shorey, Gardner, Barry, and Bouma once he's fit); though rumors have abounded that O'Neill might be looking at Emule or Kevin Doyle to fatten up our front line a little. The bright side to that depth question is that our reserve and youth teams have been really flying for the last couple of years, and if Villa progress to knockout, we might be able to draw the "big names."

In some cases, O'Neill's insistence on sticking with his XI have been good- look at the emergence this year of Stan Petrov, who was fighting for a spot throughout last year, and may have been the only player to show up on Sunday at the Bridge. In some cases, players with unique abilities have been shut out- see Shaun Maloney.