HOWARD MEGDAL: HERE WE GO! Oh, how do I get the Champions League anthem played whenever I enter, say, the kitchen?
MIKE CUMMINGS: I think you can download that on iTunes, Howard. Just put it on repeat. What I want to know is, if UEFA is going to insist on having this thing in English, why does it seem like the hosts/hostesses are struggling a bit with the language?
Gary Lineker looks really uncomfortable, by the way.
I hate to say it, but this is just bad television. The process is convoluted and confusing. Everybody looks confused. There’s absolutely no background noise. And, hey, where’s Sepp Blatter? The least they could do is have Sepp bob his head to some Eurotrash technopop.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Oh! Manchester United FOOTBALL CLUB!
Can you imagine if they did the NCAA basketball tourney reveal like this, with Bob Knight mixing the balls?
MIKE CUMMINGS: Forget the music, how do I get one of those little trophies? I can handle little balls! I am a guy, after all!
HOWARD MEGDAL: Is anyone actually directing this? “So. We’re going to go on now.” As opposed to everyone going home and playing where they want?
MIKE CUMMINGS: Indeed, the NCAA should take note, and improve on the product where applicable. Bob Knight is the only choice for head ballhandler (puns intended), but how about we throw in Steve Alford to choose the region each team goes in? The tension would be as high as the comedy.
Howard, to answer your question, I think it’s clear no one is directing this. All the more reason CBS should hijack the idea and put the American twist on it.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Maicon “runs kilometers.” No wonder Americans hate soccer. Here is the USA, we run MILES.
MIKE CUMMINGS: What a commie. Oh, and I heard Kaka isn’t really Brazilian, and he’s a Muslim.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Kaka 2016!
I demand Spurs be placed in Group B to exact vengeance on Benefica!
MIKE CUMMINGS: Favorable draw for the English teams so far. ManU gets Valencia, which isn’t the same team that somehow kept making CL finals early in the century. Arsenal gets Shaktar Donetsk and Chelsea gets Olympique Marseille. Nothing to complain about.
Wow, Gianfranco Zola. He played for Chelsea before they had money. How old and useless must he feel now?
HOWARD MEGDAL: Champions League anthem is now my ringtone. Now to strategically schedule people to call me…
MIKE CUMMINGS: Regular version, or the dramatic, industrial percussion-tinged remix? Arm candy watch: Wesley Sneijder is my hero, now even more than ever.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Midfielder of the year indeed! Sounds like someone recorded it from their television. Possibly from the next room.
Hmm. Werder Bremen and Inter. Tough group for Spurs.
MIKE CUMMINGS: Ha! I spoke too soon about the English sides. Don’t think it wasn’t on purpose. No more Young Boys to spank, Spurs!
Ole! The Baby-Faced Assassin! Easily the coolest nickname ever.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Oh, Auxerre. Poor Auxerre.
I think Kazan could come out of Group D.
Sign your show is dragging: when the host feels the need to say defensively, “We are getting there.”
MIKE CUMMINGS: Sign your organization has image issues: when the host feels the need to say “Let’s see if everything has been conducted correctly” and then shows genuine anticipation.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I love that she didn’t even wait for that anthem to end before pushing forward.
MIKE CUMMINGS: Milito? For one good game? Arm candy watch: Milito appears to have brought his homely cousin to the show after deciding to take a vow of celibacy.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Call me a romantic, but I like that Milito married for love.
MIKE CUMMINGS: Overall thoughts: The hardest group is clearly Group G, but a monkey could have told you that. Real Madrid wasn’t even the seeded team, but they might be the best in a group that also contains Ajax, AC Milan and Auxerre. Should have been Group A, apparently.
The English teams came out well, with the exception of Tottenham. Arsenal got three trips east, to Shaktar Donetsk, SC Braga and Partizan, but it should be more than manageable. Chelsea won’t have any trouble getting past Marseille, Spartak Moscow and MSK Zilina (who?). Man U’s road is a bit tougher, but they’ll easily advance ahead of Rangers, Bursaspor (again, who?) and Valencia. Only Tottenham should worry about advancement, being in a group with Inter and Werder Bremen. If Spurs do advance, it would be a nice accomplishment.
Other quick thoughts: Lots of first-timers in the group stages this year (Rubin Kazan, MSK Zilina, Hapoel Tel-Aviv, Bursaspor, FC Twente). The fourth pot seemed exceptionally weak this year. Turkey sent somebody besides Galatasaray and Fenerbahce? Weird.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Love conquers all. Except possibly Group G, where Love would be lucky to place third.