Wednesday, March 11, 2009

roll the dice...europe...

pic: Getty Images,

It wasn't pretty but the young Arsenal team held their nerve to advance to the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League.

Arsenal put in an awful 90 minutes in Rome and looked to be on the verge of elimination after poor defending allowed the defender Juan to give Roma an early lead. But a glaring miss from ex-gunner Julio Baptista let Arsenal off the hook. In the penalty shoot-out, after Arsenal's calm and composed Eduardo missed the first spot kick, things didn't look that bright. But amazingly the rest of the squad held their nerve to convert their kicks, including the young players such as Walcott (20 years) & Denilson (21).

pic: Getty Images,

Viva Thierry Henry. Two quick goals in the first half took the wind out of Lyon as Barcelona raced to a 5-2 win over the French champions. Henry had also gotten that all important away goal in France tying the first leg 1-1.

Quarter - Finals

Once again like last season, 4 English teams are in the quarters as Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man Utd managed to eliminate the three Italian teams in Roma, Juventus and Inter Milan, while Liverpool easily handled Real Madrid.

Porto, Villarreal, Bayern Munich and Barcelona round up the final eight. On paper, Porto and Villarreal are probably the weakest of the bunch while Barcelona look the most dangerous. Although, I am sure no team would want Bayern Munich after they destroyed Sporting Lisbon 12-1 on aggregate. After a jaw-dropping 5-0 away win in Lisbon, Bayern showed no sympathy in the second leg and easily won their fixture 7-1.

The other Europe

The round of 16 games for the UEFA Cup kick off on Thursday, March 12 with the return legs to be played next week. The 8 games feature teams from France (St-Etienne, Marseille, PSG), Ukraine (Dynamo, Shakhtar, Metalist), Germany (Bremen, Hamburg), Russia (CSKA, Zenit), Holland (Ajax), Turkey (Galatasaray), Portugal (Braga), Italy (Udinese), England (Man City) & Denmark (AaB).

Bremen vs St-Etienne
Marseille vs Ajax
Dynamo Kyiv vs Metalist
CSKA Moskva vs Shakhtar
Hamburg vs Galatasaray
PSG vs Braga
Udinese vs Zenit
Man. City vs AaB

While the UEFA Cup does not get even half the attention of the Champions league there are some interesting match-ups. The match up between CSKA Moscow and Shakhtar should be an interesting rivalry, while the Marseille vs Ajax match up brings together two former European Cup winners from the 1990's. In terms of financially un-even matchups, look no further than Man City vs Aab. Man City have all the money in the world while AaB from Denmark are a small club. But as they showed in the Champions league, AaB do possess the ability to spring a few surprizes and City could have a rude surprize if they are not careful.

1 comment:

Pacze Moj said...

I didn't see all the matches, but, from what I saw, I'd rank the contenders:

Manchester United
Bayern Munich

Maybe Liverpool deserves the top spot after beating United today.

Chelsea's one of the teams I can't predict anymore.

Barcelona have the guns on offense, but I don't think they match up well with either United or Liverpool's organized defenses. Chelsea might qualify, too, though: who knows?

Bayern Munich... they have to be in the Top 4 because of their scores, but it was the scores that were more impressive than the performances.

Not much to say about the others. Arsenal played well in EPL today, with Arshavin almost scoring three, but that Roma game can probably happen again. That said, I feel luck will be on their side in the draw for some reason...