Sunday, February 13, 2011

INFTH Champions League Predictions

AC Milan vs Tottenham- Both teams come into this tie on the back of  morale boosting victories over Parma and Sunderland respectively. Tottenham, rocked by news of Gareth Bale's unavailability, will hope to at least score an away goal so as to set themselves up for what will surely be a night of passion and energy at White Hart Lane for the second leg. With Rafael Van der Vaart and Luka Modric both set to return, Spurs will have plenty of attacking threat, though without the speedy Gareth Bale, Milan will hardly be quaking in their boots. For Milan, you have to feel that a win, and by some margin, will be needed, especially if Gareth Bale is to make his return in time for the return leg at White Hart Lane. On Saturday, Milan rattled four past Parma and Massimiliano Allegri will be hoping for more of the same from the likes of Robinho, Ibrahamovich and Cassano.  Supporters of both teams should expect a pulsating match as ingrained in the DNA of Tottenham Hotspur is the will to attack, while Milan will know they have to chalk up a win at the San Siro if they are to have any chance of progressing. Fans of the Lilywhites will hope that a lack of Champions League experience doesn't result in Spurs becoming undone, but it certainly is a possibility.

Prediction: 3-2

Valencia vs Schalke- Once again both teams enter this game off the back of wins in domestic play, and both will sense they have a real opportunity to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League. In the previous phase, Schalke did supremely well to top their group, while Valencia were unsurprised to finish second behind an experienced Manchester United side. For Schalke striker Raul, this game will be his first back in Spain since his move to Germany, and it will also pit him against a side he scored against in the 2000 Champions League final. While Schalke have struggled in the Bundesliga this season, Valencia have consolidated their position as one of the teams just behind Real and Barca a success made especially significant given that their two best players, Davids Silva and Villa, departed last season. Though not billed as such, this match-up may prove to be one of the more intriguing ties of the round.

Prediction: 2-0

Arsenal vs Barcelona- In a repeat of last seasons quarter final match up a sumptuous Barcelona team take on their English equivalent in what may prove to be one of the ties of the round. Last year Arsenal were undone by the genius of Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou, as well as a lack of concentration at The Emirates. Having learned from past mistakes, Arsene Wenger's men can be expected not to roll over so easily, especially if, as predicted in some quarters, Samir Nasri makes a shock return from injury. Barcelona will enter this game off the back of losing their 16 game winning record at the hands of Spanish minnows Sporting Gijon, but this should only serve to further inspire a Barcelona team ripe with attacking talent. Arsenal come in to this match after a comfortable 2-0 home win over giant killing Wolverhampton Wanderers, but Wenger will know that if Arsenal demonstrate the kind of profligacy in front of goal which haunted them in the Wolves match, than they will have no chance against Messi, Pedro and co.

Prediction: 1-3

AS Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk- Roma will hope that the fact the Ukrainian domestic season has been over for some time now will play into their hands at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday. However, phenomenal in the group stage, Shakhtar should not be taken lightly, and Roma can expect to be punished if they don't take their Eastern opponents seriously enough. Roma enter this game after a morale crushing two nil loss against Walter Matzarri's superb Napoli side, but there is enough experience within the Roma ranks to insure that this loss is forgotten by Wednesday. Ahead of this game Claudio Ranieri will be urging his troops to come out of the traps fast and seize any momentum provided by a sluggish Shakhtar start, as he will know well the difficulties of a perilous trip to Donetsk later this month.

Prediction : 1-0

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