It may be May 27 on the calendar, but for fans of the beautiful game, it’s like New Year’s Eve.
Barcelona and Manchester United will meet at London’s Wembley Stadium tomorrow afternoon (2:45 FOX) for the Champions League final – and it’s one of the more anticipated finals in recent memory.
Many of my friends who drop by here are now rolling their eyes.
“More soccer, Randy? Geez.”
Yes, more soccer. But first, a brief Champions League primer.
The Champions League is a competition of all of the club teams in Europe (or at least the ones that finished near the top of their respective domestic league the year before). It’s a long, winding process that began with 76 teams. Those 76 got whittled down to 32 teams for what is known as the group stage.
That’s eight groups of four that play home and away matches with the top two teams in each advancing.
Then starts the knockout phase that features home and away matches with winners being chosen based on aggregate.
That’s how we got here.
If you’re still here, let me give you a reason to tune in.
Aside from the World Cup, no event is as important as this one.
And the teams might just be better than the ones you’d see wearing a country’s colors.
Barcelona’s starting 11 is littered with stars from the Spanish national team, not to mention the best player in the world, Argentina’s Lionel Messi.
They play a style that can best be described as a slow dance, passing the ball quickly and rhythmically, putting defenders out of position and tiring them out.
And no one finishes like Messi.
It’s almost poetry, when full back Dani Alves or midfielder Sergio Busquets are spoiling the fun with silly dives and play acting.
Most observers say that this team is the best of its generation – and perhaps the best ever.
But Manchester United isn’t about to stand still for a coronation in its home country.
United, like Barca, is one of the biggest clubs in the world with a rich history.
Wayne Rooney is just a notch below Messi as one of the world’s finest forwards, but the Red Devils have a long list of stars in their lineup as well.
If my guess at their lineup tomorrow is correct, the Red Devils will have nine different national teams represented (England, Holland, Wales, Brazil, Mexico, Bulgaria, France, Serbia and South Korea).
The point is that, no matter who wins, it will make for quite the spectacle.
Flip over to FOX tomorrow and check it out.
Maybe then, you’ll see what I see.
It is, after all, the beautiful game.