Champions League KO Matchups
A former teammate of mine that had a style of play “similar” to Steven Gerrard (and would be insulted as he is a Man Utd. fan)described the ties in one word- mouthwatering. I will use this term only once as I could sound redundant. Each one of these ties could end up being the best ones for different reasons. What they all have in common is that theycan all put on a show.
If you want you are a coach and want to teach kids about technique, please record this matchup- you will not be disappointed. These are two of the most explosive and fluid teams in Europe and there is a great potential for some epic goals here. Cesc Fabregas, Emanuel Adebayor, and Theo Walcott on one side against Francesco Totti, Mancini, Alberto Aquilani, Julio Baptista, and Mirko Vucinic on the other there is no other way to play than offensive.
Former Rijkaard assistant Henk Ten Cate’s side is probably the Cinderella of the tournament having bumped off Inter for the top spot in their group. Villarreal is one of the top offensive sids in La Liga and they have a solid defense, but the craziness that is going to play in Greece could give The Yellow Submarine some fits.
Barcelona got their man. This was one of the teams that the blaugrana wanted to face off against. With that said, they will still have to bring their A Game to the Stade Gerland in order to finish it quickly. Barca should not get too confident as players like Karim Benzema (who they are trying to woo) and Juninho could put them in bind very quickly.
All eyes will be on these two stars on offense, but Barcelona will have to continue with the rampant offense in order to get through players like Jeremy Toulalan and Cris on defense. Although this might not be the best Lyon has fielded during their seven-year reign in France, they are already motivated to make move in Europe. This is one of the best defensive sides the French giants have fielded, so Barca will have to do what they have done to teams like that this season.
This tie has the biggest storyline for La Liga fans. It is captivating based on the rich history of both clubs at the international level. The only thing that prevents this tie from being spicier is Real Madrid’s current form losing three of their last five overall. Yet there is something about the nine-time European champs that never see them die. Their “solutions” that include the signings of Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Lassana Diarra, and Dani Parejo give the decimated Madrid side more depth. Also there is a possibility that if Madrid have not gained any ground on Barcelona by that time and are still striking distance of Champions League spots, they will put all of their energies on a run towards a tenth orejona.
Liverpool is Liverpool. They have the depth and firepower to win this once again. They also have the coach to lead them there. Madrid will face one of their favorite coaches that they have never been able to get- Rafa Benítez.
Fernando Torres comes back to face his eternal “boogeyman”. In 11 matches that he played against Real Madrid, he was only able to score once. His reputation was made based on this match alone. He was looked as a “choker” because he was not able to performin big games. All of that pressure seemed to leave him as soon as he bolted for Anfield. Now El Niño is one of the top goalscorers in all of Europe and plays like a liberated man.
Now the big question is… could those ghosts come back and haunt him again?
This is the British Tabloids’ dream matchup. My God are the quotes going to be flying leading up to this matchup. The defending champs will have their first big obstacle towards repeating. Obviously these two teams are great on the pitch, but the biggest plot is the two men on the respective benches. I don’t see The Special One and The Eternal One hugging each other after this is all over. This matchup will face one of the best defensive teams in the business against a Manchester side that is getting back in form.
Inter is currently rock solid in their backline. Iván Ramiro Córdoba is one of the best defenders on the planet right now. The Inter captain is one factor that has calmed the seas in Mourinho’s first months as neroazzurri boss
If there is a lopsided matchup, this is my choice right here. If there is an equalizer here it could be the winter hibernation that the Bundesliga champs go into. If you go on precedent alone, that is what the Bavarians do and this year is no exception.
This one will be a showcase in South American talent. There is a possibility that these two teams can field up to 13 players from Latin America at the same time. If you plan to attend these matches, it will be well worth the price of admission. As a matter of fact, this matchup could take everyone by storm and could be the most competitive.
If this is not the most evenly-matched tie, it is surely 1A after United and Inter. This match will surely be a grudge match. O Chelsea will scratch and bite in order to get to to the quarters and they will have to do so against an Italian side. This is the first time almost five years that The Blues face an Italian side. The last time they did was back in 2004 when they faced Lazio in the group stage of the tournament. That year, they would reach the semis of the tournament
Claudio Rainieri will bring the two-time European champs to the not- so- hostile crowd of Stamford Bridge where he would be making his not-so-triumphant return. Rainieri will not be welcomed with cheers and a standing ovation by the Blues faithful. Abramovich sacked the Italian after his first season (2003-04) owning the team and replaced him with Jose Mourinho. Under Mourinho Chelsea won their first Premiership title in over half a century in 2004-05 and would back that up by repeating the following season.
It’s too soon to make any predictions for these ties. The boys here at LLT will make their predictions prior to the game being played. We will let you know went to send your predictions in. As always the grand prize is a pat on the back and a big ego. The away leg will be played on February 24 and 25th and the return will be played on March 10 and 11th.