I know that I've been a big proponent of professional soccer, most notably the English Premier League. The best clubs in that league and throughout Europe compete in the UEFA Championships (at the same time as their league games) a thirty-two team tournament that is culminating in part this week, with their version of the final four.
Manchester United (which beat fellow EPL team Chelsea in the round of eight,) faced off yesterday in the first of a home and home series with FC Schalke, from the German professional league. Man U took that match 2-0.
In the other highly anticipated match on Wednesday, two of the top three teams in the world, rivals in "La Liga," Spain's equivalent of the EPL, Barcelona and Real Madrid square off at the "Bernabeau" in the Spanish capital, where Real is undefeated in ten UEFA league games and has tallied eight clean sheets (shutouts.)
There is so much interest in this game that Fox is moving the broadcast from its Fox Soccer Channel to FX, which is available on most cable and satellite packages. Check it out at 2:45 ET/ 1:45 CT.
Those two teams have a rivalry that is as big or bigger than Bears-Packers or Yankees-Red Sox. In fact, the two squared off last Wednesday in the Copa del Rey (King's Cup) where Madrid captured the title in extra time. In addition, the two clubs played to a 1-1 draw four days before that in regular league play.
Defending champion Barcelona is loaded, features the top player in the world, Lionel Messi of Argentina, along with seven of World Cup champion Spain's starting eleven. Real boasts Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain among their roster of super talent.