This Champions League is gonna cook!

2011-03-23 00:00

IT’S that time of year again.

Extra doses of vitamin C are in order, Kleenex is cleaning up, and that extra hot bunny at the canteen will be even more popular.

And while we are sitting here waiting for the temperature to drop, there is an air of optimism in Europe, as the chill of winter starts to subside and they can look forward to that small window of sunshine — well, actually that is just in England!

But the real reason there is much to be excited about things in Europe right now is because of the Champions League quarter-final. Heck, even if you are an Arsenal fan still licking your wounds, you must admit that the cracker-jack match-ups leave you salivating.

Even Liverpool fans, who may have forgotten what the Champions League theme tune sounds like — it’s been a while — have come up to me to say there are some explosive matches coming.

Sure, everyone is talking of United against Chelsea. They would, wouldn’t they?

It is an all-English, heavyweight bout. And there is bound to be drama. Chelsea, the eternal semi-finalists, will be looking to save their coach’s bacon. Word has it that Carlo Ancelotti’s office has a calendar that runs up until June — the rest of the year is but a dream for now.

And yet, the Italian master helped himself to a league and cup double just last season. It’s funny how soon some people tend to forget that.

Anyway, I am far more interested in the clash of Jose Mourinho’s supposedly tiring galacticos against Harry Redknapp’s posse of pint-sized playmakers.

And Gareth Bale.

Real Madrid full-back Pepe has just signed a new deal, which apparently pays him R40 million a year now. When Bale is done with him, he may think it wise to knock on the Special One’s door — to demand some overtime money for his sleepless nights!

Bale is back, fully fit and ready to rip shreds into anything in front of him.

It is rare to get excited about any­thing Welsh — well, except maybe for Catherine Zeta-Jones when she was in Zorro. But back to my point.

Welsh or not, Bale is hot property right now, and Spurs look a different beast when he is in full flight. I must confess to being childishly irritated at Spurs’ reluctance to play Bongani Khumalo. What with the Spurs defence resembling the cast of Casualty, I figured it was only a matter of time before we saw him strutting his stuff with the best. It’s a pity, but that is just one impatient darkie’s take on the matter.

If Madrid progress from that tie with Spurs, the small matter of Barcelona will likely lie in wait.

That is almost too much excitement to consider. They are already pencilled in to play the Spanish Cup final and a league game in April, so a Champions League semi would mean four El Clasicos in a month!

Aybo, can you imagine the skills, the diving, the controversy, and the endless feast of football we would have on our hands?

Shoo, I think I need a serious siesta after all that day-dreaming. Things are about to get seriously hot in the next few weeks.

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