Tuesday, March 3, 2009

UF POWER POLL - March 3, 2009

Looks like our animation here is something of a poison chalice... at least Barca is still in The Ten

After a 21-moon hiatus, the UF Power Poll returns today with some big changes and one glaring, red-faced constant. The worst we can say about Manchester United? They have conceded A GOAL (but not with van der Saar playing) and they did fail to do off with Spurs in 120 minutes (they waited to KICK ARSE in the shoot-out.) If they've suffered at all, it's by NOT notching that "precious away goal" at the San Siro. But we all knew this would be a tricky fixture. In theory, Jose and Co. have a decent chance at this. In theory. In practice, as much as soooome of us (self-included) can't stand it, Man U will probably win 2-0 at Old Trafford.

And what of Barca? Pep had sailed a near perfect course until the middle of February, but can he right the ship now? It's easy to dominate in the fall and winter, less so to recover as spring arrives. And then, before we get down to it, there's a certain well-known club from central Spain. They are called Real Madrid and they are led by one of the foremost managers in world football: Juande F#$%ckin' Ramos.

Dios Mio.

Here's the list-- with your Facebook votes lumped in!

1) Manchester United - 1.2 (last poll: 2nd place, 1.67 avg)

The Carling Cup winners tighten their death-grip on the top spot mostly thanks to Barca's freefall. It really wasn't a great two weeks by SAF's outsize standards. Like we mentioned, they should be expected to come through home to Inter, but would you be shocked if Mourinho snuck in there and managed a 1-1 (thus, sending the Mancs out on away goals)?? If Zlatan wants to stick it to his legion of English detractors, I believe this may be the time.

2) Real Madrid - 2.8 (4th, 4.00)

Probably the form club in European league play right now... maybe the best team on the continent if not for that Liverpool disaster. (It was an unlucky draw for Real, as Liverpool is probably the best team in Spain. Lingering should start a petition to move Los Rojos to La Liga. Surely they'd win a title there before the Premier League.) Still, the winning streak in the league is impressive, as is the way they're doing it. Ramos plays a style that might not win Europe, but is sure to make him a favorite at the Bernabeu. How man 6-0s did Don Capello manage during his title run?

3) Inter Milan - 2.9 (3rd, 3.67)

Draws with Torino and Roma in Italy have got to be frustrating, but would anyone like to bet on Juventus to overtake them? Think not. Another (real) Scudetto is in the offing and now it's all about the Champions League. Denying Man U that road goal was huuuuuge, obviously, and one can only imagine what Mourinho is cooking up for the trip north. His office is probably looking like the scene from A Beautiful Mind with Russel Crowe going apesh*t with the maps and magazine covers. Here's my hint, don't let Ronaldo alone with your left back.

4) Barcelona - 3.4 (1st, 1.33)

We're a fickle group over here-- the Facebook crew was more steady, placing these guys Second-- dropping the two-time leaders all the way down to the fourth slot. As we mentioned in the intro, Barcelona are in their first bad streak since Pep took over, so it remains to be seen if the mister can deal with a spot of failure. If they escape this Lyon mess, we'll still be rooting for that Barca - Man U final.

5) Juventus - 7.1 (unranked)

Juventus head up our Best of the Rest list. The latest challenger to Inter's reign of dominance in Serie A, they've had some...uhh... good luck (sound familiar?), but have also been fairly consistent in not losing. Though they did just that against Chelsea last week...

Wait, what are these guys doing so high up? I think we've been compromised. Someone here's on the take.

6) Hertha Berlin - 7.2 (unranked)

Oh, those wild and wacky Germans. Once again, this is the most competitive of the "big leagues" in Europe. Hertha are the newest leaders, overtaking UF men-crush Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich, Hamburg, etc... Led on the scoring sheet by Anfield Legend Andriy Voronin (7), with another win Hertha will exceed their point total from any of the past three seasons. Again, their inclusion is indicative of how sheisty the situation is after the Big Four.

7) Chelsea - 7.4 (unranked)

Sprechen die "Big Four," have Chelsea double-Dutched themselves back into League and European contention? Their season has gone from a Dutch Oven to a Bong and Blintz, Scmoke and a Pancake, in just a few weeks. Whether it's Guus, The New Manager Effect, or Drogba (the latter being the true path back to old glories), Chelsea have been solid of late, in that same unimpressive but dependable way to which we'd all grown so painfully accustomed. The real drama at Stamford Bridge has to be over Hiddink's future. Some rumblings about that he'd stay and offer up the Russkies to buddy Dick Advocaat. In the end, it's all up to Roman, of course. He may be out a bit of money, but the trigger-men are still on salary, so what the Boss says still goes.

8) Olympique Lyonnais - 8.0 (unranked)

How happy are Lyon supporters to know that Fred is finally out of town? (If you're there, Lyon fans, pray tell.) He was a significant part of their incredible run, but really, it's enough. Back to the football-- they were shockingly good against an admittedly struggling Barca side. Still, Barca is Barca and with Benzema in the attack, anything is possible. Including a long sought-after trip to the CL quarterfinals.

Yea, and they're going win in France, again-again-again-again-again-again-again. (The only way they don't is by knocking off Barcelona and losing focus on the league. Something I doubt would upset our Lyon fan. Où êtes-vous?)

9) AZ Alkmaar - 8.1 (unranked)

These dutch bastards just. will. not. lose. After dropping the first two, AZ have gone unbeaten for the better part of six months. And they're doing it with clean sheets and a bit of style. We also thank them for dispatching of any "Look, Steve McCLaren is about to lead Twente to the Dutch title" stories. That would've been bad for everyone... English fans and the people who care about them... the proud history of Dutch Football (David Winner would've crawled into a kiln)... so on...

10) Liverpool - 11.7 (5th, 5.78)

Not much to say here that hasn't already been said. Back to their old tricks. Had a little flirt with the Premier League, then remembered they are not, in fact, an English football team. Hey, I'd love for Spurs to have their problems... but not that manager. Rafa has a fantastic record, no debate, but they will never win the Premier League with him. See: article from yesterday's Guardianas proof.

Per Autoglass: stammering in mock shock-- "This is remarkable. Umm, an injured striker? Who could plan for such a scenario? Why, one might have to keep an extra proven striker around just in case..."

Dropped - Aston Villa, TSG Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, AS Roma

In the mix - FC Porto, PSG, Celtic

Not in the mix- Arsenal (no votes)


Mike Georger said...

Open thread coming or do I bitch about Rafa's team selection here?

Mike Georger said...

Who lets West Brom score on them?

Precious Roy said...

Just want to make sure it's been acknowledged that you have jinxed 'Pool for the return match at the Hawthorns the second-to-last match of the season.

JT said...

We will not be rooting for a Barca v. Man U final in the Champions League.

Just pointing that out.

jjf3 said...

I'll be seriously pissed if UEFA finds a way to keep Barca and ManUre apart until the final. I want Barca taking them out before then, with Messi outscoring CR7 3-nil...

Autoglass said...

Long may Rafa manage LFC. Can I chip in on his long term contract?