United OUT!

For those interested in Champions League (which is how I got interested in this damned sport to begin with), the big news is that Manchester United-- one of the biggest (and most loved/hated) clubs in the world, is out of the competition. Indeed, the loss "meant United, who threw away an early lead achieved through Paul Scholes, failed to advance from the group stage for the first time in ten years, and by finishing bottom of Group D have not even a UEFA Cup place for consolation." Too bad for them.

Other big news? For the first time ever, a Scottish side has made it to the "knockout rounds" (or, as we say in the States, the Sweet Sixteen).

The standings show quite an interesting mix. The English (Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal), Italians (Inter, Juve, Milan), and Spain (Real, Villareal, Barcelona) lead with 3 sides each, while Germany (Bremen, Baynern), and the Netherlands (PSV, Ajax) have two each. France (Lyon), Portugal (Benficia), and Scotland (Rangers) have one each.

Though I'm perhaps a bit biased, I'd say there's a good chance an Italian side will make it to the finals-- Juve and Milan are both really good, and Inter's playing well, too. Chelsea's good, of course, and they're running away with the Premiership. I don't know much about the rest of Europe, but it doesn't seem like Real is as good as they were five years ago, but who knows? Last year, I wouldn't have thought Liverpool stood a chance of making it to the finals. And I especially didn't think they had a chance to win the whole thing down three goals to Milan! So really, anything can happen...

Edited to put in the CL link!