Something Great

Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Day Two

Yesterday's matches saw two bores, one solid game, and one fantastic finish. Today, I think we'll see some all-around better play. And personally, these are the matches I've eagerly anticipated.

Celtic vs. Barcelona. That other team that sings "You'll Never Walk Alone" plays today, and you can bet the atmosphere at Parkhead will be out of this world. Barca and Celtic currently find themselves in identical positions in their respective leagues (second), but nobody will argue that the SPL is even in the same solar system as La Liga. That being said, this is not a vintage Barcelona team. Though they're back in the title hunt thanks to Madrid's recent slip, the squad hasn't looked like the world beaters everyone predicted before the start of the season. What's more, Celtic have a history of success in this competition and a reputation in recent years for playing the best clubs down to the wire. They've been on a fantastic run of league form (last three victories: 5-1, 5-1, 3-0) and are at home. I think Barca is ripe for the taking. Bhoys 2 - 1 Cules.

Lyon vs. Manchester United. United made a HUGE statement with their 4-0 dismantling of Arsenal over the weekend. Though both sides were missing some key players, it was a far cry from a reserves game, and United made it clear that even five points adrift, they're still the champs and the team to beat. Of course, which United will show up today? The one that was put to the sword (twice!) by Man City? Or the one that scored six goals in a half against Newcastle and just smacked down their biggest title rivals? That's the big question because based on sheer talent and depth, this should be the best team in Europe. Lyon are no slouches, though. They're holding on to the top spot in Ligue 1, are captained by free kick wizard Juninho, have Italian stud Fabio Grosso in their back line, and possess two of the most explosive young talents in Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa.* With those two marauding the front lines, United will have to be really careful not to get hit on the break. I foresee a high scoring affair, but can anyone really see the Red Devils losing this game? OL 2 - 3 MUFC.

*How much you want to bet that these two will be wearing AIG on their chests next year? Especially if they put in a good performance tonight.

Arsenal vs. AC Milan. Ah, yes. What a matchup. So many ways to spin this, and it always sounds good: Youth vs. Experience. Form vs. Class. Fabregas vs. Kaka. New Gattuso (Flamini) vs. Actual Gattuso. Attack vs. Attack. The expectations are certainly high to see some joga bonito from these two sides, but will it meet them? Honestly, probably not. But that doesn't mean this won't be a good game, and it'll certainly be the most important one of the year for both sides. Arsenal need to rebound the way they did the last time a major rival (Tottenham) smashed them out of a cup competition (Carling). Right now, it's just this and the league, and one way or another, they have to finish with silverware to call this year a success. Meanwhile, Milan need to show they haven't lost the plot, begin their title defense well, and keep their challenge for fourth in the Serie A looking legitimate. Now that Milan have found their home form, if Arsenal want any chance to take this, they have to win or at the very least prevent Milan from scoring. Anything less than a 0-0 draw will spell elimination. Anything more than a 1-0 win should give them the breathing room they need to go to the San Siro and advance. At the Fortress Emirates, I believe this is possible. Gunners 2 - 0 Rossoneri.

Fenerbahce vs. Sevilla. Oh, who am I kidding. Nobody cares. Well, I guess that's a bit harsh - Sevilla are a very good team, and they seem to be finding their form after a stuttering first half to their league season. They lost and then won against Arsenal in convincing fashion in the group stages, and ended up on top when Wenger stopped playing first-teamers. Let's also not forget their recent run of success in European competition: two UEFA Cups and a Super Cup in the last two years. They also added a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Super Cup last year. Basically, this team is incredible when it comes to knockout competitions. Fenerbahce, meanwhile, are the reigning champions of Turkey, and finished second in their group amidst some serious competition in Inter, PSV, and CSKA Moscow. They did manage to beat Inter at home, but were thrashed in the away game. My head knows they're not a bad side, it really does. I just can't take them seriously. That's why I think a Sevilla dedicated to offensive tactics will take a precious away goal back to Spain with them, where they'll finish the job. The Yellow Canaries 1 - 1 The Cup Specialists.

7 comments:

Ben said...

Ok - here we go:

I concur, at home, Celtic over Barca. They truly haven't been in the form one can only imagine. Nonetheless, I still think Barca wins in Aggregate. Perhaps losing 2-1 to Celtic or merely 1-0 today.

Man U will win.

Arsenal v. AC - As I know the two hosts are looking forward to this matchup, I like AC. First, they play great in Europe. Second, they have been playing much better of late. Third, Kaka. (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7be17d32-dc10-11dc-bc82-0000779fd2ac.html)

I read that this past weekend. Basically, he said because they play so many games, they can't get up for them all. Stating, that is why they have struggled in the league. But he clearly cares about CL, so they will win.

“Sometimes, everything that I want to do I can do. These are good games, a perfect game.” (Kaka)

But it's at Emirates, so you never know. I see AC taking it overall, but this one will be close, maybe even Arsenal winning. But AC will do what is necessary to advance. Perhaps 2-1 or 3-2, though 3 goals allowed by AC would be increible.

Sevilla - Feherbace, I don't care. I'll take Feherbace, and hope that somehow this effects the geopolitical situation between Europe and Turkey.

Ben said...
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Ben said...
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Ben said...

DAMNIT! I can't get the FT article to go in correctly. Well, if you want to read it, type 'Kaka Financial Times' in Google and it's the first result.

Jimovani dos Santos said...

http://snipurl.com/20111

This should take you to the article Ben wanted to post.

In response: I agree, it's unnerving to read this. On Fox Football Fone-In last night, the two hosts were joking about Liverpool and Milan's mediocre league form, but when asked straight up if they would bet against a Champions League final involving both sides again, neither one said they would.

I just hope that Arsenal will see this as a must-win game in order to keep challenging on two fronts. Hell, right now, Chelsea is in the mix for four trophies.

Jake said...

well first it should be noted that this http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=509544&cc=5901 is sad and unacceptable.
secondly it is also sad and unacceptable that i didn't learn my lesson from yesterday and forgot once again to set the DVR, fuck, 3 months off is too long....

So on to today's matches in order
Celtic v Barca. If you look at Celtic's home record in the CL i think it is nearly impeccable (they beat Milan this year and ManU last year (revenge for the earlier game at old trafford that was prolly tops group stage game last season), and only losing last year to an extra time kaka goal at the san siro after two 0-0 draws, also last time Barcelona was in Glasgow they were held to a rugged well defended nil-nil draw with 'Gers, how do you hold off an attack of eto'o and henry up top with messi and ronaldihno in the wings throw in deco and iniesta with support in the middle, i think the key is to have them all play at once so they take each other out of the flow of the game, Barca might not push too hard for a precious away goal given their anticipated dominance at the nou camp, alas what was celtic's last (only???) home loss in the champions league was to...the catalon giants..celtic fans should be up for it after rijkaards comments that barcelona has the best fans in the world, hmm this is hard, great thing about soccer number 47: when you can't decide call it a draw, 1-1 goals by nakamura and prolly messi (since i passed over him in fantasy league)

lyon vs the evil empire (err. man U)
this should be the easiest test for any of the away teams simply because united look unstoppable (unless lyon switch to an ugly shade of tar heel blue shirts for the match), lyon will not be simple, but really anyone can beat the french six straight years...but the attacking portion of the side figures to be strong with junihno and the two frenchman up top (we'll call them young and younger since they make me look like a cantankerous man), I’m hoping that man u manages a clean sheet (Ferdinand) but it should be stern test for their defence, on the other side of the ball I can’t see the three-headed monster having any trouble and with Mr. Giggs set to make European appearance number 100 I assume he’ll have something to say as well…also Lyon’s 2 center back’s are out with injury, and the defense has been vulnerable to French opponents!!! French!!! Can anyone say Agincort???? Man U. 3-0

Arsenal vs. AC Milan.
First advantage arsenal in this one for 2 key reasons, 1) its played at the emirates, this should guarantee at least a draw, 2) who will Milan put in goal??? Its not Dida…(I think it’s a mental injury at this point) and Kalac has been very good as a replacement but apparently has a broken hand! So what does that leave, either an injured kalac or Valerio Fiori, who has played twice with the club in 8 years and hasn’t played a match that has counted since December ’03, upon hearing the news Wenger wryly said “They will need their goalkeeper, We've never played at home without putting the opponents' keeper under pressure.” I think this means Cesc, flamini, hleb, ade, Eduardo, fuck even eboue have the green light to fire at anytime from anywhere which will hopefully mean that instead of all flare and no finish this will yield all finish and no flare, although flare is always fun since my dvr isn’t set I just want the result, Of course, milan’s attack is prolly even stronger than the thrashing a tevez/ronaldo-less man u side gave the gunners over the weekend, the first upside, arsenal will have corner backs for this game, clichy and sagna, which I think always helps a defense, second kaka and pato can’t be 100% for this game, perhaps I’m hoping this more than believing it but, if either plays, and I’ve heard both are an if, it will be fresh of injuries…that being said I think the biggest worry for arsenal are making the stupid fouls they always commit deep in territory and having pirlo step up and get Milan an away goal in a fleeting moment, (Liverpool match at anfield last November), but who cares what the mind thinks in a match like this “2-0 to the arsenal!”

Fenerbahce vs Sevilla
Lastly the most exciting match of the evening, I don’t even think I spelled either side correctly. Whatever, African footballer of the year Freddie kanoute should score twice (fantasy league influence), sevilla seems to be the king of the knockout ties, and I’m sure they are not looking past the Turkish champs, I’m mostly talking out of my ass at this point so I’ll say 2-1 sevilla, i also hope this affects the turkey european thing, as in keep the turks out, the last thing we want is schalke to face fenerbahce in the quarterfinals, that could get ugly ben

Ben said...

Hey, all i'm saying is, there's nothing like a good Euro-centric war to get the US back on track. So go Fenerbahce!