Well it couldn't have been a complete English clean sweep in the Champions League semi final - the now annual Liverpool v Chelsea champions league quarter final, ensured Barcelona had a back door entrance to gatecrash the last four, at Munich's expense. This Barcelona victory, despite Munich's 12-1 cricket score against Sporting Lisbon in the previous round. In truth, Barca were at the party unfashionably early, given the 4 nil win they took from Camp Nou in the first leg.
With the dominant presence of 3 English clubs making it to the last four - a repeat of last year - the probability of an English European champion obviously increases considerably, and so to the chances of an all English Final.
Last year, AC Milan were the remaining hope that could break up the English supremacy, but their unconvincing form never really threatened Manchester United. However, this years favourites, Barcelona have the form and I believe, will not be fazed by the entitled English, authoritatively picking over the sausage rolls, and pineapple 'n' cheese on a cocktail stick, finger food, UEFA have so kindly provided. The latter, being a culinary delicacy, that has not made the transition to Europe's main land in quite the same fashion as English football. In fact, where else but England, is the combination of cubed pineapple and cheese impaled by a cocktail stick acceptable??
Barcelona must feel like the kid no one wanted to invite to the party, but turned up anyway. Despite this social faux pas and the numerical improbability, I am convinced Barcelona will reign Champions of Europe come May.
If Barcelona do prove to be successful in Rome, it will detract from the unwarranted attention the English Premier league's dominance in Europe now receives. Michel Platini or Sepp Blatter usually have some form of criticism which draws negative attention to English football, usually backed up by an out of touch solution. What the pair seem to fail to realise is, these concentrated moments of success have a tendency to be cyclical. Spain had their moment in the sun in the early 2000's with Real Madrid winning twice and making up an all Spanish encounter with Valencia. Before that, Italy were ruling with AC Milan appearing in 3 consecutive finals, which is just greedy!
Often I here the argument that the Champions League should only consist of the Champions of each domestic league, and not the swollen runners up, third and fourth competition it has now become. A return to a previous format which would give "smaller" clubs a better chance of European glory. At the very least, I can concede that having teams in a champions league that are not actually champions is some what of a grammatical contradiction, but if it were not for the expansions to include more teams, it would have been to the detriment of smaller clubs, and fans who wouldn't have witnessed what I biassedly perceive as the greatest final ever, when Liverpool and AC Milan met at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in 2005.
Expanding the competition has helped grow its popularity, and has given more supporters the chance to see Europe's best talent showcased on their own doorstep. More clubs have also benefited from the cash windfall the Champions League brings, instead of being concentrated on a few of Europe's elite who are already minted.
My only criticism, would be that the current format does not include enough teams, especially from weaker division, a situation that is perpetuated by UEFA's own ranking coefficient that ensures Europe's strongest divisions are allocated more qualification places than others. I would like to see an expansion that would correct this imbalance by including runners up, third and fourth places from divisions that currently only have one or two qualifications, depending on the the amount of teams in that division.
This might be a solution that does not resonate with the competitions purest, and maybe it will take some credibility away from the Champions League, but it would benefit more clubs. Put it this way, I have heard of crazier ideas banded about by the likes of Platini and Blatter, whom have recently been joined by Bolton's chairman Phil Gartside in his quest, which is doomed to fail, that would see a two tier Premier League setup. An idea that is already dead before it has been disgust, at least for now. I will save the logistics of that debate for another day, for now here is the link to the ridiculous two tier setup- http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/eng_prem/8006934.stm