Beauty and the Beast

The Champions League draw was upon us, and two weeks ago, I had a suspicion that we would draw Villarreal. I remember telling my team that I didn’t think we’d draw an English side. This wasn’t out of fear, it was just a random guess. I had previously expected us to draw an Italian team in the Round of 16, so just consider me a lucky guesser.

It’s an interesting tie, one that I will go into when we get closer to the actual first leg. Villarreal are a team that plays football, loaded with a couple of gifted strikers (Rossi and the frequently injured Nihat), skilled midfielders (Santi Cazorla, Ibagaza, and sometimes Pires), and a decent defense. The problem for them this year has been injuries (like us), but as we saw before against them, it’s going to be a tight tie. Manchester United failed to win either of their two games against Villarreal in the group stages this year.

I will say that it’s a bit of a fortunate draw in the sense that we will only have to play one of the four clubs in the other side (Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and Liverpool). We may or may not play United, but we don’t have to play all four of those clubs.

Anything can happen, last time we went to the semis, Pires tackled Vieira and fed our goal as we went on to topple Juventus. I cannot predict anything other than another tense, exciting two legs.

Before that, we play at St. James’ Park against Newcastle. Newcastle has been floundering ever since N’Zogbia’s Aunt placed a voodoo curse on JFKinnear. They’ve churned out a lot of draws and are in danger of being relegated. They have enough talent to survive, but injuries play a part in everything and they’re struggling.

Hughton has already announced that he’ll sit Owen and play a five man midfield. We haven’t won at Newcastle since Jermaine Jenas gave us a penalty kick via a handball, featuring one of the most sublime penalties I’ve seen from Thierry Henry.

It will take a lot to break this team down, featuring talented defenders in Bassong and Habib Beye. But we do have a sprightly Russian who has recently provided such a spark in this team. To say that the Russian is one of the best players in the world would surely not be far off the mark.

It’ll be an interesting game, a tight affair that may depend on a clinical finish or two. We must continue to put our foot down Villa’s throats, as they play Liverpool tomorrow.

One final note on Phil Brown. The man is an embarrassment.

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