Champions League: Round 2, Day 2

MIKE CUMMINGS: I’m away from my TV set for one day – one day! – and what happens? From the looks of things on the ol’ Champions League scoreboard, Wednesday was a heck of a day across Europe. Rubin Kazan got another result against Barcelona. Maurice Edu played well for Rangers and won. Everybody’s favorite legume, Chicharito, scored as Man U beat Valencia. Heck, even Spurs managed to win somehow.

First things first. Can everyone please stop referring to Chicharito by his real name? I got halfway through the game report of Manchester United’s 1-0 win at Valencia on goal.com and I had no idea what was going on. The lead was confusing, the goalscorer wasn’t mentioned, down was up, up was down.

Want a good lead? Here you go: “Chicharito.” That’s it. His awesomeness is enough.

Anyway, when they finally mentioned Chicharito for the first time in the 13th paragraph (13th!), the writer referred to him as “Javier Hernandez.” Pah. As if. When an exciting young player has such a cool nickname – I think it means “Little chickpea” or something – why not just go ahead and use that full-time? Plus, “Chicharito” just sounds so much cooler than “Javier Hernandez.”¬†There are about a gazillion Javier Hernandezes in the world, and one Chicharito. Besides, does anyone refer to Pele as Edison Arantes do Nascimento? Did they ever?

OK, so that’s a bit overboard. But Chicharito is awesome, and if he keeps getting better, Man U will be as dangerous as ever.

Elsewhere in the Champions League, I’m digging Maurice Edu’s performance for Rangers against Bursaspor. Also digging: Tottenham beating the crap out of somebody (4-1 over Twente) for what has to be the first time in at least 37 years; Inter Milan going offensive and whipping Werder Bremen 4-0 (take that, Special One); and Rubin Kazan sticking it to mighty Barcelona again.

Everything else? Meh. But that’s par for the course¬†while the group stages are going on.

HOWARD MEGDAL: There was plenty to take away from Tottenham Hotspur’s first Champions League home game against FC Twente.

Let’s start with the simple upgrade to Gomes in goal. With a porous defense allowing Twente chances in droves, Gomes helped protect a defense that struggled, even with Ledley King back in the lineup.

That said, King is so vital. Contrast the performance against West Ham, without King, that forced Gareth Bale into a fullback slot. Not only is this a lesser defensive unit, the finest counterattacker on the club gets neutralized without the opposition forced to do a thing.

Spurs miss Michael Dawson, and only part of that is due to Dawson himself, rather than the dominoes his absence knocks over.

And Rafael Van De Vaart’s challenge, one can only hope, gets his stupid and team-defeating action out of the way early. Giving Inter 30 minutes with an 11-on-10 advantage wouldn’t turn out so well.

Still, 3 points is 3 points, in the match of the six most favorable to Spurs in the group stage. Hard to argue with that.

About Mike Cummings

Mike Cummings lives and works in Cullman, Ala., the seat of a dry county in the hills of North Alabama, not too far from Birmingham. To pass the time without booze, he plays classic Playstation games on his buddy's PS3 and obsessively watches Jersey Shore whenever it's on. His work has also appeared on Salon.com, and he occasionally blogs at mikesbestguess.wordpress.com. Email him at mike.cummings37(at)gmail.com.
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