Champions League, I love you

The past two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) have provided me with some of the best football I think I’ve seen. There’s something incredibly special about a Champions League night and I was looking forward to both matches that were on this week: Spurs vs AC Milan and Arsenal vs Barcelona. Manchester United don’t play their last 16 tie until next week, if you’re wondering why I’ve suddenly started watching the North London teams.

First up on Tuesday night, Spurs went to Italy to face AC Milan. Now AC Milan are an ageing side, that little nugget of information has been well known for ages now, but I would hazard a guess that everybody (including me) assumed they’d steam-roll Tottenham. Because despite playing a stunning game against Inter Milan, I just didn’t think they had it in them to continue this brilliant run. I was proved wrong and in stunning fashion, too. Spurs utterly dominated in the first half, I’m not joking. They should have been 5-0 up at half-time, but they weren’t. It was all level. Out they came in the second half and Milan really did their bit, they had more possession, they had shots on goal, it was real end-to-end stuff. Tottenham finally got their breakthrough with a wonderful goal from Peter Crouch after Aaron Lennon went on a brilliant, mazy run. They held out until the final whistle, thanks to some wonderful saves from Gomes, and off they go to White Hart Lane in two weeks time to get through to the last 8.The only low of the night was the lack of control Gennaro Gattuso showed. Twice he went for Joe Jordan, at one point during the game before going after him again at the final whistle where he headbutted him. It was stupid of him, and he’ll deserve whatever he gets from UEFA. Flamini (I think it was him, anyway) should have been sent off for a horror tackle on Corluka, as well.

If Spurs vs AC Milan was the appetisers, then Arsenal vs Barcelona was the real showpiece of the week. Heck, the showpiece of the year potentially as pretty football went up against pretty football. I truly didn’t think Arsenal would win, and when Barcelona went 1-0 up in the first half through David Villa I thought that was it, Barca were going to go and score more goals, but Arsenal came roaring (literally roaring) back in the second half and they stunned Barca with two wonderful goals within the space of about 10 minutes. It was an amazing come back and it adds a lot of spark to the Nou Camp game in two weeks, I can’t wait. I think Barcelona will be completely up for it and Arsenal will have to defend like soldiers to hold onto their lead. I must admit, part of me wants Barcelona to progress because they are a stunning team, but the Man Utd fan in me wants Arsenal to win so it means we can’t get Barcelona should we get through the the last 8.

I can’t wait for the return games, both of them and even if Man Utd are playing I might have to not watch it because these two games are going to be crazy good. What Spurs have done this year is shown that you don’t need to be an Arsenal, a Man Utd, a Chelsea or a Liverpool to compete in the Champions League and they’ve done it with some style. I truly didn’t give them a chance to get through to the knockout stages, and that was remiss of me (and a lot of people, I would guess). Harry’s done a brilliant job, and I definitely have a lot more respect for Spurs. Just so long as they don’t beat Manchester United, obviously.

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