The Champions League of Hate, presented by Rafa

So much love - er, hate. - Michael Regan

March Madness is done (in a few hours). The Champions League is closing in on its own final four. Seems like an appropriate time to unveil the latest piece of interactive absurdity from WAGNH — the Champions League of Hate.

Mercurial sports / pop culture / whatever website Grantland struck a nerve last month by conceiving a community-driven tournament that would tug at the very fabric of fandom. They wanted to know who their readers believed was the most hated college basketball player of the past 30 years.

Though the battle has since ceased, with former dog whisperer Christian Laettner emerging victorious (if you can call the winner of such a tournament victorious?) from a wretched hive of scum and villainy featuring such upstanding gentlemen as Eric Devendorf and of course every Duke player this side of Jon Scheyer, the tournament, as you would expect, was a lovingly hateful success.

It created quite a bit of dialogue, most of which cannot be repeated in this space.

That understandably got Devin and I thinking. We thought. And then we thought some more. Not really — we pretty much just decided to do the same thing but with a focus on football.

We knew we couldn't follow the NCAA format, no way. This is football, dammit. So what else could we do but use Big Vase — you know, the Champions League — as our muse? A inspired Billy Packer-esque call it was.

The WAGNH hierarchy finalized the group stage late last week. As you'll note, no Chelsea players advanced through the preliminary rounds. What can I say, we're just a likable bunch. The rest of this lot, however — well, I'll keep those thoughts to myself.

While we compiled the groups, we're asking you to settle the debate. Community voting will commence shortly (once we figure out if we can include multiple polls in posts), first for the group stage and then of course the knockouts. All the way until we've crowned the most hated man in football.

Excited? Seething? I'm both.

Anyway, without further ado here's the way the group stage unfolded. Dare I ask what you think the Group of Hate is?

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Sidenote: The Champions League obviously has one of the great theme songs in the history of man. What should be the musical backdrop for this soon-to-be-storied competition?

Ciao, darlings. Oh, and remember: Keep it civil in here. Violators will be prosecuted accordingly.

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