And Then There Were None: England's Premier League Not So 'Premier'

Sammy BalContributor IIApril 8, 2010

Arjen Robben produced a spectacular second-half strike to put Bayern Munich through to the Champions League semifinals, booting out the last English hope Manchester United.

The Dutchman fired in a scintillating volley to make it 3-2 to United on the night, 4-4 on aggregate, and send the Germans through to the last four on the away goals rule.

United had led 3-0 early on in the match as the German squad suffered an early Nani brace after Darron Gibson's opener.

A euphoric Manchester were caught flat footed as Ivica Olic pulled one back, putting an end to the rope-a-dope tactics and signaling the start of a Bayern reaction.

After Rafael was sent off early in the second half, Robben sent Bayern fans wild with the vital goal 16 minutes from time.

Bayern controlled the second half completely with an all out offensive lineup which was switched to controlled administration when the desired result was achieved.

England striker Wayne Rooney was included in the starting lineup but proved ineffective.

Bayern will now play French side Lyon in the semifinal, with holders Barcelona taking on Inter Milan in the other fixture.

Ferguson threw on Berbatov and veteran Ryan Giggs in desperation with 10 minutes to go but apart from a wide effort from Nani, the Bayern goalie really had nothing to fear in the closing minutes.

No English teams made it to the final four in 2010. Real Madrid, with their "English media" star Cristiano Ronaldo, also could not make it to the best four in Europe.

The American financial crisis has signaled a halt to Premier League success, apparently.

However, the players remain the same. So one has to wonder just what sort of financial support has stopped flowing.

Way too often the world's most popular sport is affected more by what happens off, rather than on, the field.

It could, however, all just be a coincidence of collective bad luck for all the big money clubs in Europe.