January 12th, 2007, 23:09 Posted By: wraggster
I have one great memory of the Champions League. That's one more than most Americans.
Cramped into a smoky pub in Rome, jam-packed with soccer-crazed Italians, I was cheering AC Milan against Liverpool in the 2005 final staged in Istanbul. It was a wild scene and I broke three ribs in the first half as Milan took a 3-0 lead and the Italians celebrated, downing beers and chanting something I wish I understood.
Most of the fans in the pub were AS Roma supporters but club loyalty is out the window in the tournament final. Better AC Milan wins than Liverpool. And up 3-0, that's how it looked, and the beer was flowing. Then the comeback began.
Miraculously, Liverpool scored three unanswered goals in the second half to force extra time and an eventual shootout. In soccer, that's unheard of. While the Italians hung their heads in dismay, I had a little smile on my face. I knew I was watching an amazing match. As a sports fan not beholden to Milan or Liverpool, that's all I could ask for.
As the shootout began, a strange thing happened. Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek started to have a seizure in the box. Well, it wasn't a seizure, but it was a very clumsy attempt to distract Milan's shooters by dancing and shaking on the line. Not only was Dudek's little jig hilarious, but it inspired EA to include the moves in 2006 FIFA World Cup on the Xbox 360.
Maybe it worked or maybe it didn't, but Dudek stopped Andriy Shevchenko's penalty to win the Champions League trophy for Liverpool and cap one of the most amazing comebacks in sports history.
On March 20, the Champions League lives again.
Electronic Arts told IGN today that it will release UEFA Champions League 2006-2007, a new soccer game featuring almost all of the world's best club teams. The title will also appear on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2.
We say "almost" all because licensing issues prevented EA from landing the rights to a handful of teams that made the tournament this season, although the company did not disclose which teams those were. We do know that there are a different number of teams on each platform. It's important to note that the PS2 version of FIFA 07 had more than 500 teams while the 360 version had only 117. In UEFA Champions League 2004-2005 published by EA, there were 239 teams, allowing you to build up a lesser-club team and eventually qualify for the 32-team Champions League.
Team chemistry is a huge feature on your club team, Sayler said. Sadly, there's no way to trade David Beckham to the Los Angeles Galaxy for $250 million if he hooks up with the nanny. (Beckham will be on Real Madrid's roster in the game, said lead producer Ken Sayler.)
As for game modes, we know that you can recreate the 32-team tournament from this season or take a team through qualification rounds. You'll also get a shot at several historical moments, of which the 2005 Liverpool championship surely will be included. I see it now: "Defeat AC Milan down 3-0 in the first half." That's worth plenty of playing cards.
While EA didn't say, we do expect some sort of connectivity with the PSP and the PS2. In the latest crops of sports titles like NHL 07, players were able to play franchise modes on the PS2 and then transfer the data to the PSP and take the show on the road.
The surprise announcement of Champions League comes hot on the heels of FIFA 07, which has enjoyed extraordinary sales numbers in Europe since its October release. We just hope this title shows the same improvement that FIFA 07 did this season on current-gen platforms.
UEFA, or the Union of European Football Associations, governs soccer in Europe and organizes Champions League and the UEFA EURO tournament of national teams on arguably the world's most soccer-crazed continent. Held every four years, UEFA EURO 2008 will be hosted jointly by Austria and Switzerland.
Check in next week for our hands-on impressions of UEFA Champions League 2006-2007.
For more information and downloads, click here!
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