Champions League of Hate: The knockout round has arrived

Old people. I hate them. - David Cannon

The group stage has concluded. Bitches. So, let's take a look at how it unfolded and what's on tap when voting for the first knockout round begins tomorrow.

ore than 12,000 total votes were cast last week as we determined who would advance to the knockout stages of the inaugural Champions League of Hate (presented by Rafa). So much hate, I love it.

First, let me thank you for voting. Second, let me applaud you for harnessing so much enmity. It's not easy to hate this much - but you, my friends, have set the standard from which all future dislike will be judged. It's to be commended, I think.

Or not.

Either way, we are down to the last 16. And these 16 men are pretty [fun] egregious. Let's take a quick look at how the voting panned out and then we'll move on to the bracket.

Group A
Total votes:
1,925

Rafa Benitez 47% (901 votes)
Roy Keane 35% (681)
Lucio 10% (194)
Clint Dempsey 8% (149)

Analysis: No real surprise here. The two favorites moved on without much fuss. Love ya, Rafa.

Group B
Total votes:
1,913

Stephen Hunt 37% (711)
Cesc Fabregas 28% (544)
Jamie Carragher 24% (452)
Alexi Lalas 11% (206)

Analysis: Again, not much of a surprise. Mr. Carragher hung on Fab's coattails but never seemed likely to overtake the lifelong Arsenal player.

Group C
Total votes:
1,963

Rio Ferdinand 49% (969)
Howard Webb 33% (637)
Javier Mascherano 11% (222)
Robbie Savage 7% (135)

Analysis: Dominance. Rio and Howard were nailed-on favorites in Group C and they didn't disappoint.

Group D
Total votes:
1,939

Tom Henning Ovrebo 43% (839)
Dani Alves 33% (636)
Pepe 14% (279)
Nigel de Jong 10% (185)

Analysis: A little more lopsided than I expected. Not with Ovrebo, of course, but Alves left Pepe and de Jong (both bastards in their own right) well behind. You can start to figure in that overwhelming Barcelona bias right around here.

Group E
Total votes:
1,621

Sergio Busquets 36% (581)
Joseph Barton 29% (475)
Wayne Rooney 22% (360)
El Hadji Diouf 13% (205)

Analysis: A fairly balanced group compared to the rest, though Biscuits was never going to be really tested. Barton's dislike is muted by his allegedly entertaining Twitter account (bull****), but he still advanced. Rooney, meanwhile, gets a mild response for being the Randy Orton of Premier League football - simply put, nobody cares.

Group F
Total votes:
1,596)

Luis Suarez 41% (656)
Carlos Tevez 33% (526)
Warren Barton 14% (227)
Cristiano Ronaldo 12% (187)

Analysis: A pair of front-runners for the title frolic into the knockouts. Poor Warren Barton - not only is he out of this competition at the first stage of asking but he's no longer going to be able to comment on Premier League football. Thank you, NBC.

Group G
Total votes:
1,618

Michel Platini 36% (587)
Javier Hernandez 30% (477)
Craig Bellamy 20% (322)
Emmanuel Adebayor 14% (232)

Analysis: Again, more dominance. Platini and Little Pea had no trouble navigating this group, while it's clear Bellamy's reputation has softened now that he's no longer at Anfield.

Group H
Total Votes:
1,611

Sepp Blatter 42% (677)
Patrice Evra 40% (639)
Steven Gerrard 12% (188)
Mark van Bommel 6% (107)

Analysis: Lopsided to say the least. I expected van Bommel to be in the mix, but it seems as though I'm one of a choice few who find the Dutchman detestable.

That just about covers the group stage results. Let's move on to the first knockout round bracket, shall we?

16-team_bracket_2_medium

As you can see, this is setting up rather wonderfully. There are a host of lovely matches (lovely being the worst possible term to use in this instance), with Platini-Busquets and Tevez-Hunt the standouts in my estimation.

You'll note that we seeded the 16 men that advanced out of the group stages. We accomplished this by following a complicated formula involving bourbon, single-malt scotch, tequila and Tecate. It took days.

Voting, as stated, will start tomorrow with one half of the bracket being up for debate. The second half of the bracket will go live on Thursday or Friday. The quarterfinals then will be unveiled on Monday. For now, however, discuss our final 16. It really is a group of truly detestable men.

Oh, and remember: Channel most of your disdain into the voting process and not into producing distasteful, obnoxious commentary below. Also, don't engage in useless bickering with someone whose opinion doesn't mesh with yours. That's wack. Leave the hate for the tournament, people.

Edit: The bracket has now been corrected to reflect Rafa Benitez as the second overall seed. Apologies for the mix-up. Trust me, I loathe the guy.

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