Friday, 18 March 2011

Quick CL draw thoughts

One team here will be very pleased. A quick hint; they are the best team in the world.

Although a trip to the Ukraine isn't easy (just ask City) Barca should have more than enough in the first leg to progress against a talented but inexperienced Shakhtar. They then face Madrid or Spurs in the semis. This is a tough tie to call. If Madrid were away from home first I could see them doing a similar job as they did on Lyon. But with the second leg at White Hart Lane, and a fit Van Der Vaart and Bale to return, Spurs can go through here. That said Madrid have to be the pick here as Mourinho is pretty much an expert in two legged games.

This leaves a Madrid v Barca semi which will mean four games in 15 days between the two of them. I predict the Spanish press is currently in meltdown. With the second leg to be played at the Camp Nou you would have to favour them. Given their lead in Spain it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them field a weaker side (do they have a weak side?) in either their Copa Del Ray final or their league game.

On the other side of the draw, United head to Chelsea whilst Inter entertain Schalke. Before the draw was made I spoke with a Chelsea fan and we agreed that no British team would make the semis unless they faced each other. Now it looks like one could make the final. The United V Chelsea tie is too close to call. Chelsea have won their last three competitive games against United, however in the two games in West London it could certainly be argued that United deserved a point in both games. However with United having what seems like an entire defence currently out with injuries Chelsea will certainly fancy their chances. A key figure in the tie won't even be playing. David Luiz's ineligibility leaves a huge hole at the back for Chelsea which will have to be filled. He has been their best player by distance since signing in January and has ability that no other Chelsea defender possesses. The second leg at Old Trafford could be the key thing in this all English contest.

Inter v Schalke is a repeat of the 1997 UEFA Cup final (you remember the UEFA Cup don't you? It was a good competition once). Anyway the Nerazzurri would fancy themselves here. They showed a lot of spirit in Munich, have fought back well in Serie A after a horror start (and thats a fact Rafa), and two of the best attacking players in the world on their day in Eto’o and Sneijder. Schalke on the other hand are not in their best run of form, lie 10th in the Bundesliga and have just sacked their coach. Inter has to be the pick here.

Gut initial feel here is a Barca v Inter final with Barca getting revenge for last year semi final defeat.

(I really wanted to pick United here but our midfield scares me so much that I worried enough about the game against Bolton, never mind the Champions League)

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