Wednesday, 22 April 2009
What do Everton and FC Barcelona have in common?
Well, even as an Everton fan I can’t say it’s the playing staff. As talented as David Moyes’ side is, it isn’t anything compared to Lionel Messi and co.
But what they DO have in common is that they are the last teams standing who can break the ‘big four’ dominance of Europe’s two biggest cup competitions.
Barcelona, of course, tackle Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the right to play Manchester United or Arsenal. Everton meanwhile, victorious in dramatic style at the weekend, will also face the Stamford Bridge side in the FA Cup Final at Wembley on May 30th.
But while Barca are widely regarded as the best team in Europe at the moment - and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they win the Champions League - Everton are revelling in their status as plucky underdogs, smashing their way past all obstacles put before them.
I think we all knew Fergie would play a weakened team in the semi-final, but the extent to which he rested his players surprised most observers and it certainly gave us clues as to his priorities. Don’t forget however, that Everton have injuries of their own. Our best striker, Yakubu, and main creative force, Mikel Arteta, are out for the season, while Jo was cup-tied and Louis Saha and James Vaughan were half fit.
As a result we were ‘treated’ to 120 pretty uneventful minutes, punctuated only by a questionable non-penalty award by Mike Riley and the noise of the Everton fans. We have waited a long long time for a moment like this and were going to make the most of it. If the semi-final was going to be decided by a battle of the supporters, Everton would have won hands down.
But just as on Manchester United’s previous two visits to Wembley, the game finished goalless and had to be decided on penalties. Even Ben Foster’s Ipod could not save United this time as Everton triumphed –with four English penalty takers – in the shootout.
To be honest all the...............
Read the rest of my guest blog over at just-football.com