The matchups for the UEFA quarterfinals were drawn by lot, and there are a some off-field winners. Real Madrid got Turkey’s Galatasaray, and the two iconic German clubs, Bayern München and Dortmund, avoided their iconic Spanish counterparts, Real Madrid and Barcelona, and – perhaps more importantly – each other. München drew Italy’s Juventus and Dormund drew Spain’s third-wheel Malaga. So the Germans, with their finesse and speed, are expected to get through to the semis.
Overall, the draw drew the harsh light of day on the English Premier League, which doesn’t have a representative team remaining in these European Championships. The perennial Great Red Hope, Manchester United, failed to prevent Real Madrid from scoring in Old Trafford, and so lost outright by a goal on aggregate. Also laid to waste along the way were Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City. The EPL absense on this stage is glaring because the league is widely considered the planet’s top dog league and magnet to international star players, media coverage and television contracts. The axis shift of football power to clubs from Germany and Spain are obviously suggested by the eight clubs remaining in the UEFA Championships, five of which are from these two countries. Turkey, France and Italy round out the eight, but are not expected to get through to the semis.
So what’s the EPL fan to do? Segue to Paris Saint Germain and the return of David Beckham to European football after his stint in the MLS with the LA Galaxy. The fashionable Brit, husband of fellow Brit and former Spice Girl Victoria, and former Manchester United star has found his new home in the midfield lineup of PSG. Oil-subsidized sponsor Emirates Airlines is seeing its money well spent on Becks and his impeccable resume of time well spent with ManU, Real Madrid and AC Milan. And if that weren’t star power enough, PSG drew Barcelona and uber-productive striker Leonel Messi. This is the kind of TV event that will cause a lot of sick time in every working corner of the planet, EPL fans included.
Real Madrid, with striker Cristiano Ronaldo, is already going off at 14-1 in their favor against the interloping Turkish club. Even a draw at Real Madrid’s home stadium, Santiago Bernabéu is paying 7-1.
My money’s on Bayern Munich, which stands heads and tails above the other teams and has a particularly advantageous draw. I see them convincingly winning at home against Juventus, and building on the momentum and confidence that comes from scoring easily both at home and away while putting up an invincible defense.