After sitting patiently through a round robin that has as much to do with profit margins as football, we finally arrive at the knockout stages of the Champions League. There are six real-life title-holders in the last 16, but match-ups involving the close seconds and far-away fourths are close to unmissable.
In old money, only Porto, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasary, Real Madrid, Juventus and Celtic deserve their place in this tournament, but one might argue that AC Milan v Barcelona, Arsenal v Bayern Munich and Real Madrid v Manchester United offer the most enticing viewing, and they only have one 2012 league title among them.
All three are winking at me from RT’s listings, but none of them matches the romance and authenticity of the tie of the round, when Celtic took on “the old lady” Juventus.
It’s odds-on that the Champions League will once again not be won by a champion, but hey, just check out those revenue streams! I’d look away in disgust if it wasn’t about to get so damn exciting.
Champions League Football (all kick-offs 7.45pm) Arsenal v Bayern Munich Tuesday 7.30pm ITV/7pm Radio 5 Live FC Porto v Malaga Tue 7pm Sky Sports 2 AC Milan v Barcelona Wed 7pm Sky Sports 2
The fifth-round amendment
It’s FA Cup time, so come on every team that can’t afford state-of-the-art changing rooms and whose star striker is a plumber. Come on every club in the red simply from surviving. Come on the underdog. Boo to the big boys, unless they’re my big boys — and they’re not, so jeer ahead.
FA Cup Fourth round replay: Chelsea v Brentford Sun 11.30am (k/o 12 noon) ITV, not STV. Fifth round: Luton Town v Millwall Sat 12 noon (k/o 12.45pm) ESPN/12.45pm 5 Live Oldham Athletic v Everton Sat 5.30pm (k/o 6pm) ITV, not STV Man City v Leeds Sun 1.30pm (k/o 2pm) ESPN Huddersfield Town or Leicester City v Wigan Athletic Sun 3.30pm (k/o 3.55pm) ITV, not STV
Bring back Grandstand
Des Lynam, Jansher Khan, two periods of ice hockey and live rugby league. Life was simpler in the 1980s. Bring back Grandstand. Let’s start the campaign now. The Super League has started, and my RT remit is not to ignore this fine sport. I shall not. Promise.
Super League: Bradford Bulls v Castleford Tigers Sat 4.30pm (k/o 4.45pm) Sky Sports 1