Monday, February 21, 2011

INFTH Champions League Predictions

FC Copenhagen vs Chelsea- For Carlo Ancelotti and Chelsea, the Champions League is now an only realistic chance at silverware this season. Following a loss on penalties to David Moyes' Everton team, there is a feeling of depression around Stamford Bridge, one which could only be cured by a healthy away win over the West London side's Danish opponents.

FC Copenhagen will see this as an ideal opportunity to play Chelsea with, as Ancelotti put it yesterday, only three Chelsea players (Cech, Ivanovic and Terry) playing well at the moment. The Copenhagen players will feel a need to bring a healthy lead away from this fixture, as in three weeks times Chelsea may be beginning to recover some of their early season swagger.

 Bizarrely, despite playing in the Europa League earlier this season, Fernando Torres will be allowed to compete for Chelsea, with fellow new signing David Luiz being consigned to the bench having played for Benfica earlier in the competition.

Prediction: 2-1

Lyon vs Real Madrid- Real Madrid's Champions League Round of Sixteen jinx has been well documented over the years, but lets rehash the facts. Real Madrid haven't reached the quarter finals of Europe's premier competition for six years, and their exit last year was at the hands of the very Lyon side which they will be facing tomorrow.

However, there is much hope around the Bernabeau that this year's Real Madrid team will end the side's recent slump and finally go beyond the last sixteen. Jose Mourinho seems to have brought a new era of stability to the Merengues, and with the gap on Barcelona being closed to just five points a week ago, the feel good factor has definitely returned to the Spanish capital.

Lyon, who finished second in their group behind German outfit Schalke, are enjoying another solid year in Ligue 1, with more Champions League football expected in 2012. Last year they managed to reach the semi-finals, and Claude Puel will hope that his side can show that 2010 was no fluke.

Prediction: 0-2

Manchester United vs Marseille- Sir Alex Ferguson had the huge luxury of being able to rest some of his key starters at the weekend, ensuring that the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Luis Nani will be well rested come kickoff on Wednesday.

United have been shaky on the road this season, but one struggles to see the hard-to-beat side being shocked in France. The main mission of this trip will be to return to Manchester with at least one away goal in tow, so as to enable a more relaxed second leg at Old Trafford.

The key to this match for Marseille will be to make sure to keep a clean sheet. If they are to have any chance of progressing, then they will have to be tight defensively, especially as key forward player Andre Pierre Gignac will be missing with injury.

Prediction: 1-2

Inter Milan vs Bayern Munich- With new signing Giampaolo Pazzini sidelined due to having participated in the competion's qualifying rounds with Sampdoria, Inter Milan will be slighty less of a threat going forward. However, even if it is just Samuel Eto'o plowing a lone furrow up front for the Nerazzuri, he can be assured several good chances on goal, as the defensive play of Louis Van Gaal's Bayern side has been less than exemplary.

But for every mistake that the Bayern defense makes, the forward line for the Bavarian club can be expected to force two more out of the opposition. With two lightning fast wingers in Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, as well as one of the form strikers in Europe, Mario Gomez, Bayern Munich pose quite a threat. Against Mainz at the weekend, Munich's attack clicked, ominously, into gear and Inter Milan can expect to be put under severe pressure on Wednesday.

Leonardo's side will have to be resigned to the possibility of the concession of an away goal, but they will also see themselves as in with a decent chance of taking a lead to the Allianz Arena, where they will doubtless have the opportunity to plunder a few away goals themselves.

Prediction: 3-2

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