UCL quarters : Its serious business now.

6 04 2009

ucl

So we arrive here, at the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. Just 8 teams left, four of them English, looking for a place in the last four, and that potential trip to Rome for that date in the final.
The draw has naturally thrown up some interesting games. The quarter finals have a habit of being spectacular. Remember Arsenal and Liverpool last season? Lets hope for something that special.Villarreal vs Arsenal

Fabregas

So we kick off with an intriguing tie between two of the supposed weaker sides to get this far. But the Yellow Submarine came through a group with Man United, where they more than held their own, and Arsenal, though lucky to have come through against Roma, see the return of Cesc Fabregas which is a massive boost to the team.

Both sides like to play nice football, and there’s no reason this won’t be an absolute cracker. Unlike some of the games with the bigger teams, I think both sides will want this from the off, which is why it could be the best of the first leg ties.

The key could be league form. Arsenal have recently bounced back from a bad run, and now look comfortable for a return to the Champions League next time around. Fabregas’ return meant an immediate return to form, and two assists for two Adebayour goals.

Villarreal meanwhile had a miserable weekend, with former Arsenal star Robert Pires sent off, and a 3-0 loss. Its going to be a real test of character if they are going to bounce back.

Man United Vs Porto

Rooney

A game that might look United’s on paper, but Sir Alex will be wary of Porto, after Jose Mourinho inspired them to an upset against United back in 2004. United have also been low on form as of late, although they will undoubtedly have been boosted by a last minute winner against Aston Villa at the weekend. United often looked unconvincing in that game though, and there is a feeling that perhaps, if United are vulnerable, its now.

Porto are arguably lucky to be in the tournament at all, the Golden Whistle scandal threatened to have them kicked them out of the tournament before a ball was kicked. That’s largely forgotten now though, and the Portuguese will be looking to rise to a big challenge against the defending champions.

Liverpool Vs Chelsea

Pool' vs Blues

If you wanted proof UEFA didn’t fix the Champions League draw, surely the fact that perpetual bore-fest Liverpool vs Chelsea has come up once again is proof enough?

The big question is whether Guus Hiddink’s influence can make this an interesting game or not. Chelsea have certainly been performing more confidently recently – Drogba immediately got back into form, and Frank Lampard pretty much pulled Newcastle apart on his own at the weekend.

Liverpool meanwhile left it as late as they always do against Fulham at the weekend. But inspired by the Kop, will they be looking to go forward a bit more against The Blues on Wednesday?

Certainly the sides obviously know all about each other, and it might well come down to which team shackles the other’s attacking midfielder better.

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich

The deadly trio

Barca have undoubtedly been the team to beat this season, but in what is almost-certainly the tie of the round, they have been drawn against Bayern Munich, a side who have been scoring for fun in this tournament so far. Just ask Sporting Lisbon. Go on, I dare you.

Hopefully then, we should expect to see goals, goals and even more goals. This is the one everyone wants to see, and with any luck it’ll live up to expectations, and not just have a cagey first leg followed by a slightly less cagey second leg. Mind you, I’m not sure either side knows the meaning of the word. Miroslav Klose is the tournament top scorer (joint with Steven Gerrard), and Leo Messi sits just behind. And both sides have plenty of firepower to back those up. Makes me salivate slightly just thinking about it. Roll on Wednesday.

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