I love the Champions League.
It gives those of us who spend our Saturday’s glued to the Scottish lower or junior leagues an opportunity to escape for a night and see how the other half lives.
The glitzy, glamorous, exotic, expensive - not in our league other half.
It’s a time when the best teams in the world, and Arsenal, flex their collective muscles on the grandest stage of them all, before eventually being beaten by Barcelona.
From the majestic arrogance of Real Madrid; the ruthless and machine like Bayern Munich; the colourful and youthful Borussia Dortmund; the unfamiliar and up-coming Russian, Romanian and Belgian sides and onto...well, Barcelona, a team which has had every possible superlative attached to it at some point.
The British sides keep you entertained for a while, Celtic did themselves a great credit this year, while there’s an obvious appeal in keeping tabs on the English Premier League teams we’re now familiar with.
Have I gushed enough yet?
No? well how about the stirring anthem, played out before every game?
I can only imagine how quick the adrenalin is bound to pump through the veins of 70,000 fans and players as the understated but incredibly uplifting piece of music is played out. Everything about it is quite simply brilliant.
So why then does our terrestrial broadcaster, ITV, do its level best to destroy its enjoyment for us fans?
There’s never a Champions League game passes without it causing an almost nuclear meltdown on Twitter and Facebook.
The cause of this isn’t usually down to a Torres miss or a Nani high challenge, but the station’s broadcasting team. Those individuals ITV sees as being the perfect accompaniment to an evening of high class sport.
Where once you had the assured, confident presentation of Des Lynam, you now have the dour, banal and depressing tones of Adrian Chiles.
Despite the calibre and quality of the players he’s being paid to enjoy and discuss, you get the impression from Chiles he’d much prefer to be at home, alone, with his model train set.
The man is a permanent buzzkill, seemingly sent to this earth specifically to counter and neutralise any good feeling and enjoyment through our screens.
But then kick-off approaches and you’re spared Chiles and are transferred to some bright, noisy, almost alive European football stadium. But ITV manages to do it again.
Seriously, is there a more depressing statement in football than: “Your commentary team for tonight is Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend.”
Tyldesley seems to have a belief that everybody at home, without exception, is willing the English team on in the way he clearly does.
I’ve no real issues with commentators leaning slightly biased on the side of one of the domestic clubs - it’s natural - but Tyldesley goes over the top in his yelps of support and encouragement, pandering to ‘the folks back home’. Well, you’re not really, Clive.
The fact is that most of us hope Man United and Chelsea are tossed out by those Bulgarian nobodies you’ve already discounted as cannon fodder.
And heaven forbid the referee happens to make a dodgy call.
His country of origin will be highlighted straight away, followed with a suggestion that people from those backwaters shouldn’t be allowed to share a pitch, let alone officiate over, the likes of ‘JT’ and Ashley.
And then we have Andy Townsend.
I don’t know what qualifies somebody to become a co-commentator but surely having at least something insightful and of interest to say would be part of it. Maybe I’m being harsh here.
Afterall, Townsend did offer his opinion on the merits of Cristiano Ronaldo during his side’s recent tie with Manchester United.
“He’s a quality player,” announced Townsend, clearly preparing himself for a crack at the 2013 ‘Stating the Bleeding Obvious’ world championships.