Everything to play for – champions league wednesday !!!!!!!

10 03 2009

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/

It’s the second-leg of the round of 16 ties which means that each side that remains in this season’s Champions League competition are a possible six matches away from glory. With three of Wednesday’s fixtures currently level from the first-leg, everything is wide open and the stage is set for a fascinating evening of top class European football.

Barcelona and Porto will fancy their chances of progression as both possess that crucial away goal from their respective first-leg matches. Although Lyon and Atlético Madrid will be desperate to come out all guns blazing to ensure they are in with a chance of being in the hat for the quarter-final draw.

English giants Manchester United and Arsenal square up to tough Italian opposition and while Roma have to tackle a one goal deficit against the Gunners, Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan will know it is all to play for when they walk out to face United at Old Trafford.

Barcelona vs Lyon (1-1 on agg)

Barcelona welcome French Champions Lyon to the Nou Camp safe in the comfort that they are most certainly favourites to go through. After Juninho’s sublime demonstration of set-piece wizardry, Lyon were in dream land but for the predatory instincts of Thierry Henry. A case of the Frenchman haunting the French.

Indeed all is not lost for Puel and his side as they look to complete the unenviable task of beating a Barcelona team that have lost just once in their last nine Champions League matches at home. Star striker Karim Benzema has travelled with his team-mates and the away support will be praying that he can shake off an injury he picked up during last weekend’s defeat to Lille.

The potentially disastrous news for Barca fans is that influential captain Carlos Puyol will definitely be missing having sprained his left ankle in the recent victory over Athletic Bilbao.

A draw was certainly not the worst result for Lyon in the first leg of the tie although it is going to take a performance of momentous proportions for the Ligue 1 club to get any sort of result in Spain.

My Prediction: 2-0 Barcelona

Roma vs Arsenal (Arsenal lead 1-0 on agg)

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal will be desperate to protect the one goal advantage they hold from the first-leg at the Emirates although Roma will undoubtedly prove a difficult hurdle to negotiate, especially on Italian soil.

The Gunners will be boosted by the return of Eduardo and Theo Walcott to Champions League action and Kolo Toure, who had been rated doubtful, looks set to start in Rome. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Togolese front man Emmanuel Adebayor will be unavailable as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury.

Roma have some injury worries of their own as they look to turn the tie around and make home advantage count in the second-leg. The cruciate knee ligament injury sustained by full-back Cicinho means he will be ruled out for the remainder of the season and Italian international Daniele De Rossi will also be absent from the squad as he serves a one match European suspension.

Having only conceded 2 goals in their last ten games, Arsenal will be confident of staving the threat posed by Roma’s attacking line-up. Although in front of their own fans, Roma will be buoyed by the fact that their English opposition have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four Champions League away ties. There’s certainly still plenty to play for in this one.

My Prediction: 1-1

Manchester United vs Inter Milan (0-0 on agg)

Beautifully poised after the San Siro stalemate, this tie has all the makings of a Champions League classic. Manchester United continue to chase an unprecedented quintuple while Jose Mourinho attempts to plot the downfall of a side that he has enjoyed so much success over.

It is fair to say that United dominated the first-leg and were unlucky not to come away with an away goal from Italy. Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping that Rio Ferdinand will recover in time to start against Inter after he picked up a knock during Saturday’s FA Cup demolition of Fulham.

Inter will be cursing their luck after Marco Materazzi and Nicolas Burdisso joined Cristian Chivu on the sidelines meaning the Serie A leaders are struggling somewhat for fit central defenders.

With Adriano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there is no reason to suggest that Inter won’t find the net at the Theatre of Dreams. The trouble for Mourino will be working out how to stem the threat posed by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

My Prediction: 2-1 Manchester United

FC Porto vs Atlético Madrid (2-2 on agg)

Atlético will be labelled slight underdogs having conceded two away goals to a determined Porto side at the Vicente Calderón in the first leg. Yet with the likes of Kun Agüero, Diego Forlan and Maxi Rodriguez, Abel Resino will be confident of a positive result in Portugal.

Porto have some fire power of their own in Lisandro Lopez, the Champions League’s joint top scorer this season with six and they will be in no mood to easily surrender their away goal advantage.

Having beaten Barcelona and drawn with bitter city rivals Real Madrid in recent weeks, Atlético have every reason to believe they will have the edge against Porto. That said, the Portuguese giants know that a decent defensive performance at the Estádio do Dragão should see them into the quarter-finals.

My Prediction: 1-1

Your Views

Feel free to get involved and post your own predictions or alternatively don’t hold back in grilling mine! We may not all agree on our views for tomorrow night’s results but let’s hope for a fantastic night of football in Europe’s premier club competition!

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