The Champions League is back after a two month absence. It is only the round of sixteen, yet some of the match ups which will be on show are absolutely mouthwatering. Giants of the game will clash and some big names will be eliminated. The competition will be intense and nothing can be taken for granted. Here are some of the key matches I’m looking forward to and what I think might happen:
Inter Milan V Manchester United – San Siro, Milan
Two giants of European football, two teams in wonderful form at the moment. In a match worthy of the final it is very unfortunate that these teams had to meet now and it will be sad to see one of them go.
Both teams have incredible managers and have dominated their domestic leagues to the extent that they’ve all but won them with three months still to go. They have class all over the park, in particular, both teams have formidable attacking weapons with Ronaldo, Rooney, Adriano and Ibrahimovic just to name a few.
All things being the same it is difficult to separate these teams, but unfortunately things aren’t quite equal if you compare the defences. Vidic is suspended for the match because of his red card in the Club World Cup final. Evans got injured recently and Gary Neville is still out. John O’Shea is in doubt as well. To go to the San Siro is difficult at the best of times, but with Rio Ferdinand having to play with a makeshift centre back in central defence, one can only think Inter has the edge. I am going to be bold and say that “The Special One” and Inter will win by a narrow margin in the first leg. Man Utd will be much stronger in the second leg.
Arsenal V Roma – Emirates, London
Who would want to be an Arsenal fan this season? Who would want to be a Roma fan for that matter? Both teams have had bad seasons by their standards but both are starting to find some sort of form, although not nearly to either team’s potential.
This is a key clash for both teams to savour something from their disappointing seasons. Both teams, being so inconsistent, it is difficult to predict who will come out on top. Arsenal have been playing better recently, but they haven’t been able to find the killer blow, so this may well be their day. With Roma looking to defend away from home, this game could be a draw or if Arsenal can finally finish their chances, they could come away with a desperately needed win. Arsenal will need it because it will be very difficult for them to win in Rome in the second leg.
Real Madrid V Liverpool – Bernabeu, Madrid
When the draw was first announced, I was certain Liverpool would win, but the draw was announced weeks ago. There have been many changes since, and Real Madrid seem to be going from strength to strength whereas Liverpool haven’t been doing as well as their fans would like.
Since Juande Ramos has taken over and bought Lasanna Diarra, Real Madrid’s defensive record has been exceptional. It is little wonder that they’ve had such an impressive winning streak since the pair (Ramos and Diarra) have arrived. Diarra could finally be the long term replacement for Makelele that Real have craved for so many years. In contrast, Liverpool, have gone from comfortably leading the English Premier League to being seven points behind bitter rivals Manchester United. They will again be without inspirational captain Steven Gerrard, so taking everything into consideration I think Liverpool will struggle away from home. Real Madrid should win this one. Liverpool will be better in the second leg.