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Tuesday, Wednesday Nights: Champions League to the Rescue

March 12th, 2019 · No Comments · Champions League, Fifa, Football, France, soccer

The world over, sports action tends to cluster around weekends. Friday-Saturday-Sunday are the heavy days because that is when more people have more time to spend paying close attention to whatever athletic endeavor matters most to them.

Monday-through-Thursday … not nearly as fun or hectic. Usually.

Then there is European soccer, which 12 weeks a year almost single-handedly turns Tuesday and Wednesday nights into Appointment Football, thanks to the European (Uefa) Champions League.

Which is the competition pitting the world’s best club teams in the most important club soccer competition. (And it isn’t close.)

Starting in September, the Champions League takes control of your television set, if you are any sort of soccer fan. And there you are, watching the 32-team group stage play in the middle of six weeks from September to early-ish December … and then the two-leg knockout rounds, which feature six midweeks of high-interest viewing from mid-February through early May.

The whole of it, aside from the final, is played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Tonight? Manchester City and Schalke, Juventus and Atletico Madrid. You may have heard of some of them.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Bayern Munich and Liverpool, Barcelona and Lyon.

All kickoffs at 9 p.m., in the western half of Europe, meaning we all will be staring at the world’s greatest teams and greatest players for two hours, followed by an hour or so of punditry and video highlights of the matches that will keep us up to midnight, easy.

Because what else are we going to watch on Tuesday and Wednesday nights?

Among the many appealing aspects of the Champions League is that by the time we get to the round of 16 we are almost uniformly watching teams with which we have a lot of familiarity.

I am convinced, as I walk through our French village on a Champions League Tuesday/Wednesday … that I can hear televisions tuned to the soccer matches. Even if no French team is playing.

And why not? By now we have opinions on many of the key players and most of the coaches.

A few interesting clubs that are not quite world class generally make it to the knockout round (Lyon and Schalke, this week, Ajax and Porto last week; the latter two advanced, by the way).

Beyond them, we are looking at the heavyweights of global soccer. Teams with the highest revenues, the best TV packages and nearly all of the world’s great players. We are watching the highest level of competition — better than the World Cup, which is also fascinating, but in a nationalistic, geopolitical way.

Consider the four games last week — Manchester United 3-3 (away goals) over Paris Saint-German. (A huge, winning comeback by United, down 0-2 after the first leg.) Ajax’s shocking ouster of three-time-consecutive champion Real Madrid. Porto dumping Roma in extra time; Tottenham rolling to a 4-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund.

So, yes, I am looking forward to this. Highlight viewing. Tuesday and Wednesday nights, like no other elite level of sports.



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