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.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Day We Are Awaiting

The Chaaaaampioooooooooons:

Barcelona vs. Celtic.
Celtic have a lot to do. Too much, really. I, along with many others, believed that they could take Barca at home, and it looked like they might until Henry and Messi reminded the world why they get paid the big bucks. Now, they're facing a 3-2 deficit and a trip to the Nou Camp, meaning they'll need a two goal victory to go through. Though Atletico offered a blueprint for how to achieve this over the weekend, that was in Madrid and with an a strong, attacking side. Barca have not lost by more than a goal in the Nou Camp in all competitions this year and I think even a gritty, determined Celtic side will be hard-pressed to get a draw here.

Manchester United vs. Lyon. United have the decided edge in this one. Going to Old Trafford and getting a victory is no easy feat. Of course, if Lyon draw 2-2 or higher, they're through. 1-1 even sends things to extra time and penalties. But that late Tevez equalizer in France really took the wind out of Lyon's sails and United have been in absolutely sparkling form. It's true that in recent years they've become overconfident and then been dumped out of the competition, but I can't see that happening until later. Unless, of course, the French Ben's (Zema and Arfa) have the game of their lives against what might be the best Central Defense (Vidic and Ferdinand) in Europe.

Sevilla vs. Fenerbahce. I didn't see the result of the first leg coming, but that's because I forgot about the incredible atmosphere in Istanbul. Graham Poll, the legendary English referee, recently gave his opinion on the Champions League and named it as the most intense environment in the competition. It's no wonder that the Turks won all of their group stage matches played at home. However, Sevilla are substantially better at home than on the road, and bounced back from their CL defeat with a 5-0 mauling of Zaragoza. Fenerbahce aren't a bad team on the road and force many draws, but considering that a 1-0 victory puts Sevilla through, one has to give the Spaniards the edge.

AC Milan vs. Arsenal. If you think a 0-0 draw is necessarily boring, you didn't watch the intricate chess match that these two sides put on at the Emirates. The Arsenal midfield and the Milan defense were the true stars of the match, and a ton of individual skill was on display. However, since Emmanuel Adebayor failed to score in the last minute of that game, Milan return to the intimidating San Siro as favorites in this one. The fact that Arsenal need only finish with a score draw to advance on away goals would be much more comforting to Gunners if their otherwise outstanding team hadn't made a habit of getting thrashed on the road in cup competitions (Spurs in Carling, United in FA). This time around, the key figures will most likely be Kaka and Adebayor. Last time, Fabregas and Flamini did a wonderful job of shadowing the Milan superstar, allowing him to make his feared runs only when there was nowhere to go but the corner or straight into an Arsenal defender. And Adebayor did some good work up front... until it came to finishing. If Kaka breaks out, Milan could win big. If Adebayor isn't rendered toothless by the 4-5-1, receives good link-up play, and finds his magic finishing boots, Arsenal could nick it. And if both things happen, expect a classic.


Ben said...

I'm excited. This should be awesome. I think Barca goes through, no discussion necessary. Man U should go through, and we're all surprised when they don't score a boatload, but Juan put the seed of doubt in my head earlier today, so I wouldn't shocked if Lyon took them down (which would be bad news for Arsenal's Premier Chances in my opinion).

I'm going to keep on rooting for Turkey, because why not.

I think we all think that AC has the edge, but I'm ready for this one to be a classic. I do think AC wins, and I think they win Champs League, but that's just me.

Jake said...

this might be the first blog response on tloca from a clean room, but i have about 15 minutes while a process runs, and blue nylon gloves that i usually reserve for alone time with ben,

now of course the other matches are intriguing and will probably be good games, but really the only thing i've been thinking about the last two weeks is the san siro. Here's the danger, Milan doesn't give a shit about serie A (ala roy williams and north video of williams with kansas after losing to syracuse in '03 final is march) which means the only thing they do care about is the game tonight, they are without seedorf, but kaka comes back, as well as maldini, inzaghi, and pirlo who all sat out in the draw over the weekend, they are going to play two up front my guess the pipo and the duck, and will look for a 1-0 win, the question is, will arsenal be able to get the away goal? perhaps a 70th minute RvP appearence?? a header that gets knocked down and in by the crossbar? who knows, but i'm confident the match will end in a 1-1 draw, hey milan you can still say no english team will have beaten you at the san siro,

Jake said...

a few more minutes ergo more comments...
first hicks and gillete turning down 800 million for Liverpool? are they nuts, this would've been a profit of about 100 million dollars, no more headaches, no more debt, no more realizing you need to go out and spend 25 million pounds on about three more players to contend in the league...but then again hicks also owns the rangers, so apparently he likes painfully struggling franchises...
back to the matches,
man utd at old trafford will be a tall task for lyon, but this side is aching to prove themselves in europe, having won the french league some absurd number of consecutive year and always seeming ly getting bounced in the champs league quarterfinals, i think lyon goes down but not without a strong fight, we'll say 3-1 with a late man u goal causing the score to belie the tightness of the match..
as far as celtic's chances in the nou camp, i think a side composed of the contributors to tloca (4 people) have about the same odds of progressing i.e. 0...maybe celtic gets another freak goal, maybe they don't, either way its hard to see barca not piling in 2 or 3 and not more out of mercy,
for the last meatch, it will probably be the most open, sevilla needs to score, but both sides are free flowing and offensive minded anyway, this could be something like 2-1 and even a repeat of the 3-2 first leg, i still like sevilla to go through, because if there's one thing we learned about champs league knockout rounds two weeks can never overestimate the value of home field.