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Oops…or why partisanship is often a poor way to decide which match to watch

6th April, 2011

"No, I've no idea what I'm supposed to be doing here either," confesses Jermaine Jenas

After the moment of madness which saw me miss the Milan derby, I resolved to make a list of the matches I most wanted to watch this week. The first of these was, naturally for an English-based dilettante footballer and occasional patriot, the first leg of the quarter-final between Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur. As luck would have it the match may have been killed as a contest before the kick-off when Aaron Lennon suddenly withdrew through illness to be replaced by Jermaine Jenas, a man who, like corn on pizza, looks bright and healthy but also out of place.

Indeed out of place is what Mr Jenas was when he managed to lose track of the 1.93m frame of forbearance’s Emmanuel Adebayor and allow the Togolese striker a free header from a fourth-minute corner. Neither goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes nor midfielder Luca Modric, stationed on the post, covered themselves in much glory either, contriving to allow the ball to squirm past them and settle rather meekly in the back of the net. Determined not to be outdone in the stupidity stakes, Peter Crouch got himself sent off before the first quarter of an hour had elapsed thanks to two dangerous and pointless fouls. I must say, though, that watching Marcelo clench his fists with glee when he realised that the fould he had just suffered would spell the end of Crouch’s involvement in the proceedings revealed quite a lot about the psyche of the young full-back.

I shan’t bore you further by going into the rest of the match in minute detail. You can read Kevin McCarra’s match report here. Here are the goals:

Clearly I shouldn’t have let any pro-English bias keep me from watching Schalke dismantle Inter at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. I daresay that after Dejan Stankovich had put Inter into the lead with a most sumptuous goal in the first minute, fans of the Italian club might have justifiably felt that the stars were aligning in their favour. Six goals and ninety minutes later and Inter had found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-5 scoreline, which saw even old age pensioner Raúl, 72,  record his name on the scoresheet. Watch all the goals here. Pay special attention to the first. Mark Tallentire’s match report for the Guardian is here. However I get the impression that Mr Tallentire may not have been at the Bernabéu, so you may as well read John Ashdown’s Minute-by-minute coverage if you want to hear from a reporter who freely admits to watching the match on television.

Italophones might be interested in hearing this segment of Inter coach Leonardo’s post-match press conference, in which he sounds like a man who has recently suffered terrible damage to his vocal cords…although club president Massimo Moratti assures us that his faith in his coach remains unwavering, so he couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with his employee’s preternaturally laryngitic performance, could he?

Gah. Now I have to decide whether to watch either Didier Drogba and Nemanja Vidic combust onfield tonight, or Shakhtar Donetsk’s focused striker Luiz Adriano and his pretty pink tongue attempt to lap up the Barcelona pressure and spit out what would be something of an upset at the Camp Nou tonight. I will no doubt opt for the all-English battle, which will almost certainly turn out to be the idiot’s choice. Until later, then.

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