Monday, March 14, 2011

INFTH Champions League Predictions

Manchester United vs Marseille- United and Marseille both come into this game off the back of morale boosting wins over Arsenal and Rennes respectively. However, prior to those wins, both teams have been going through a rocky period, with Manchester United losing two consecutively, and Marseille having forward Brandao accused of rape.

The key for Didier Deschamps' side will be stopping Manchester United's two wingers (the word is that Nani will make this game). Antonio Valencia looked fabulous when he came on against Arsenal, and Nani has been terrific all season. As for the men they'll be supplying, it will be interesting to see who Ferguson deploys along side Rooney, with Chicharito currently ahead of Berbatov in the pecking order.

The main difference in the Marseille side from the first leg is that star man Matieu Valbuena is fit to start this match, a real boost for everyone involved with the French side. If Valbuena can play as well as he did at Wembley last year in France's 2-1 victory over England, then we could be in for a shock result.

Prediction: 3-1

Bayern Munich vs Inter Milan- Since Mario Gomez's ninetieth minute tap in gave Bayern a 1-0 lead at the San Siro, these two teams have gone in very different directions. Inter have rebounded well and look a decent bet to catch up Milan, and secure yet another Scudetto. On the other hand, Bayern have been in free fall, losing their crucial league match against Dortmund, before being knocked out of the German Cup by Raul's Schalke side.

Bayern are obvious favorites coming into this game, but even after their brilliant, 6-0 win over Hamburg, they may still be a little fragile. If Inter are to win this match, then they must realize the importance of an early away goal, one which would disrupt Bayern's rhythm, and shatter their confidence.

But even if Inter do find that crucial away goal, then they will have to figure out a way of dealing with Bayern wingers Ribery and Robben. The pair dubbed "Robbery" excelled again at the weekend, and if they are given any kind of space to run into, then their play could prove Inter's downfall.

Prediction: 2-3

Chelsea vs Copenhagen- In probably the least enticing second leg match-up, a rejuvenated Chelsea take on their surely, already defeated Danish foes.

With a place in the Quarter Finals all but guaranteed, I imagine that Ancelotti will focus on blooding in some of the more youthful members of the squad, as well as providing record signing Fernando Torres with that elusive first goal.

If Torres goes another game without scoring, then what has been described mostly as an unlucky run, will begin to resemble a drought. And from there, it is only a short jump to the words "flop" and "waste of money."

Prediction: 2-0

Real Madrid vs Lyon- After a difficult run of results in La Liga for Jose Mourinho's side, Real Madrid seem finally to have found their feet, and they come into this game off seeing Barcelona's lead at the top of the table be sliced to a mere five points.

Even more encouragingly, this match will signal the return for previously injured top goalscorer, Cristiano Ronaldo. During Ronaldo's absence, striker Karim Benzema has taken on the goal scoring responsibility, and one wonders whether Ronaldo's return to the side might disrupt some of his net bulging rhythm.

Lyon come into this game knowing that they will have to score, and I fully expect Claude Puel's men to attack Real Madrid from the off. In Bafetimi Gomis Lyon possess a fast, powerful forward, capable of unsettling even the most miserly of defenses. It was Gomis who proved Real Madrid's downfall in the last round, and if Lyon are to progress, then they will need another strong performance from the Frenchman.

Obviously Real Madrid will be seeking to end their run of years without a Champions League Quarter Final berth, but in the context of this season, Mourinho must see the Champions League as the Merengues' only real chance of winning a major trophy.

Prediction: 3-0

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