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Chris Charles | 13:44 UK time, Friday, 9 April 2010

The countdown to the big day in May began in earnest - but somebody forgot to invite the English.

For the first time in six years there will be no representative from Blighty in the Champions League final, as the last of the home guard were done for by that man and Robben.

Arsenal were the first to fall, getting themselves into another fine Messi as the little maestro rounded off the Easter weekend by putting all his eggs in the basket.

Barca manager Pep Guardiola admitted some weeks ago that he'd run out of superlatives for his boy wonder but you can always rely on Maradona to add his two penn'orth.
Lionel Messi
Messi shows off his Lionel flair
Fresh from his fight with a dog, the Argentina legend showed he's still completely barking as he announced his countryman was "playing kick-about with Jesus". Come off it, Diego - he's not the Messiah, just a very sporty boy. (I'll get me coat.)

Maradona's not the first to take the football-is-a-religion mantra a little too literally. Liverpool fans dubbed Robbie Fowler 'God', while the legendary Brazilian team spawned the slogan: 'Jesus saves, but Pele scores the rebound'.

Then, of course, there was Brian Clough's famous dismissal of route-one football - "If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds he'd have put grass up there." Mind you, anyone who witnessed Messi's majestic header in last year's Champions League final will know he's not bad in the air either. Ooh, some people make you sick.

The little man went up even further in my estimations (I'm sure he's thrilled) when he appeared the day after his heroics wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the Sex Pistols' iconic God Save The Queen image. Not quite sure what Gooner fanatic Johnny Rotten would have made of that, although the line "There is no future in England's dreaming" neatly crystallised a week to forget for our Champions League hopefuls.

Arsenal were followed out of Europe by Manchester United, stung by a moment of magic from Arjen Robben and a moment of madness from Rafael.

Other referees may have decided against giving the Brazilian his marching orders, and an apoplectic Sir Alex Ferguson went all Stan Boardman on us after the game, accusing the Bayern players of getting Rafael sent off by acting like "typical Germans".

But it was all smiles for Fergie the following day, as his horse, What A Friend, romped home at Aintree. Rumour has it he originally named the nag after Rafa Benitez, but was forced to change one word.

United fans might like the sound of Eric's Charm (ridden by a jockey called Wayne) for the Grand National, while Blackburn, their opponents on Sunday, will surely pile on Big Fella, Thanks. I had a dream a while back that Madison du Berlais took the honours, although given the weight he's carting around, I suspect he could still be running next week.

I also dreamt our resident tipster, Honest Frank, gave me the name of the winning horse in the snow (Snowy Morning) and there was also a red-haired girl involved (Cloudy Lane is trained by Ginger McCain's son) but the name of a horse that would really sum up my chances is Clutching At Straws (I've checked, there isn't one).

One thing I wish I had put a bet on was a Liverpool-Fulham Europa League final. OK, there's still another hurdle for them to clear but suddenly everyone's talking about the competition nobody was interested in.

The old chant "When the ball hits your head and you're sat in Row Z, that's Zamora" is a distant memory as Bobby continues to bang them in for Fulham. He can't do much more to give Fabio Capello a nudge, although you suspect whenever anyone mentions his name to the England manager, he puts his fingers in his ears and sings "ner-ner-ner-ner-ner".

Congratulations to Liverpool too - it always makes life in my house a little more bearable when the other half's team remember that they can play football after all.

Manchester United fans have been mocking their Scouse friends with the chant 'Thursday nights, Channel 5' over the past few weeks but if they haven't done so already I would suggest Liverpool reclaim it, as United did themselves with the 'Who the devil are Man Utd?' ditty.

Fernando Torres again did the business for the Reds and goals aren't the only thing he's hungry for, after claims in The Sun that he wants fellow footballers to join him for a World Cup episode of Come Dine With Me. The striker said: "I've been a fan of cookery shows since I arrived in England in 2007 and Come Dine With Me is by far my favourite."

Torres has put forward Rio Ferdinand, Cesc Fabregas, Jamie Carragher and Stevie G as possible dinner guests. The Guardian asked readers to send in alternative companions for the Spaniard and I quite liked SergeantZim's suggestion: "Torres should invite the Liverpool back four, so they can be introduced to one another."
Fernando Torres and Rafa Benitez
Nice one, Fernando, now get the tea on
Personally, I'd like to see Dean Gherken, Patrick Berger, Graham Onions, Phil Mustard and our very own Caroline Cheese get involved. They must be able to rustle up something between them.

Actually, what I'd really like to see is Sam Allardyce recreate Monty Python's Mr Creosote sketch, with his old mate Rafa as the waiter supplying the 'waffer thin mint'.

Quote of the week came from Colleen Rooney, who said: "Wayne's a natural with the baby...he doesn't really change the nappies" - eh? But the story of the week involved Burnley midfielder Kevin McDonald, who was subbed at half-time with the Clarets 5-0 down to Man City and left to watch the second half on the the pub.

The Scot joined his family (and probably half of the disenchanted home supporters) in the nearby Knights of St Columba Club, before later admitting his actions were "naïve" and "disrespectful". Brian Laws said McDonald "took the wrong decision" - although you can bet the beleaguered Burnley boss must have wished he'd have joined him.

And finally, I leave you with some more gems from Andrey Arshavin, featured in the questions and answers section on his website:

Q. Andrey, are you frightened of bears?
A: On the contrary, I like bears.

Q: Andrey, what girls do you like more:
1) Wearing heels and skirts or;
2) Wearing sneakers and jeans?
A: "It's difficult to spoil a good body with clothes."

Q: "Do you use hair gel? If you do, what type do you use?
A: "I don't have a contract with any hair gel producer. I use water before the game. A lot depends on water chemical composition."

So now you know. Have a good weekend one and all. I will be at Loftus Road at 8.45am on Saturday morning, preparing to walk the 12 miles to Crystal Palace to raise money for the QPR Tiger Cubs - a team for children with Down's syndrome that my little girl will be playing for in exactly five years' time (Happy Birthday, sweetheart)!

I recently wrote a blog about it and if you want to help out, be my guest - even Jeremy Paxman has chipped in! While my companions have been involved in intensive training, I have admirably cut down to just a couple of pints and a few fags a day - what could possibly go wrong?

You can follow my progress on the walk and other stuff on Twitter.


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