Your Champions League Update: Germany And Spain Play The Best Football In The World, Apparently

If you didn’t watch the Champions League quarterfinals, you missed out on sporting television at its best. On Tuesday, Galatasarray, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Malaga turned in an evening for the ages. Gala faced a 3-0 aggregate deficit at the start of the match and went down early to a Cristiano Ronaldo tap in. By conceding at home, the Turkish club needed to score five times to advance to the semifinals.

To their credit, Gala nearly (well not nearly, but the thought crept into the viewers mind like when the finest girl at the party whispers something in your ear, and you think “Is she flirting with me? Could this really go down?”) pulled off the unthinkable. They scored three times in the second half all from big club castoffs who found refuge in Constantinople. Ex-Gunner Emanuel Eboue, much maligned by the end of his Arsenal career, opened Gala’s scoring with a bullet into the top corner.

Ex-Inter linchpin Wesley Sneijder added a second after embarrassing the Madrid defender with a nutmeg at the 18. Didier aka Khal Drogba made things interesting with a dazzling third. His backheel from twelve yards out displayed the Ivorian’s strength as well as his goal scoring acumen.

Much to our chagrin, Ronaldo ruined the party with another tap in. Madrid were defeated 3-2 but advanced at a comfortable 5-3 aggregate. It seems as if Ronaldo has taken the Messi slights to heart every time he touches the pitch this season. He has now scored 11 times in the Champions League, and behind that form, Real Madrid look unbeatable.

In the other quarterfinal of the day Dortmund stormed back in the waning moments to claim a 3-2 home victory that sent the German club to the semifinals. The winning goal came with controversy. Felipe Santana got the winner, but replays show the defender offside. There’s a player in the net, you say, how could he be offside?

Well it’s an intent of the law vs. letter of the law kind of thing. Technically Santana is offside because he strayed passed the second to last defender in his team’s attacking half before the ball was played. Usually, the goalie serves as the last man back thus making his furthest retreated defender the offside line.

But in this case, Malaga’s keeper had ventured out towards the six leaving Santana in an illegal scoring position. The ball bounced to him, he finished, the linesman’s flag stayed down, and Dortmund advanced. My opinion? I’m glad the play stood. As it played out, the goalie’s flailing attempt to save the ball was made in vain. If he really wanted to get the referee’s attention he should’ve sprinted out of the box ensuring everyone could see the offsides infraction. Verdict: If it pisses me off in Fifa, it shouldn’t be allowed in real life.

Barca escaped PSG with the help of 2 away goals. The Paris side went ahead through Javier Pastore, but the game shifted with the addition of a little known substitute named Lio Messi. Messi played despite a hamstring injury he had sustained in the first leg of the tie. And Barca fans were happy to see him. It was Pedro that ultimately secured the “victory” although the teams drew both matches. They say a tie is like kissing your sister. Then what is a tie where you actually lose? A full-blown make out? Don’t answer that.

Bayern Munich eased passed Juventus to advance to a second straight semifinal in the other match of the day.

The German juggernaut clinched the Bundesliga over the weekend with six games to play and will look to claim the European glory that has eluded them in recent years. Chelsea dispatched the club in the final last year, at home mind you, in what has to go down as an utter collapse. Three years ago, Jose Mourinho’s Intermilan squad took down the Germans in a lopsided final that finished 2-0.

Can Bayern grab the hardware this year? Well, by anyone’s measure, the four best teams in Europe have earned a trip to the semifinals. All play an attractive brand of soccer to boot. I’d like to see Barcelona play Dortmund and Real Madrid take on Bayern. The prospect of two Clasicos in a two week span has me salivating but quite frankly the Spanish clubs’ tendency to fight on the field rather than on the scoreboard has overshadowed the spectacle in recent years.

But there’s no losing here. In a season in which the domestic leagues have been anticlimactic, the Champions League has been anything but.

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