More UCL Predictions: Chelsea, AS Roma, and FC Porto

FC Porto vs. Schalke 04
(0-1)

Coveted winger Ricardo Quaresma has promised a win at the Dragao, but it is Schalke with the one goal lead. Porto will be heading into this with a bit of momentum as Schalke still in the race for the Bundesliga title has lost three consecutive league games. If Kevin Kuranyi can find an early goal on the counter, Schalke could do what they did in the first leg – defend. The German international’s lone goal in the last encounter was partly due to a Helton handling mistake, but with the way things have been going, Schalke is going to have to take whatever they can get.
Prediction: 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate, Porto)

Real Madrid vs. AS Roma
(1-2)

The biggest advantage Real has today is the fact that they managed an away goal in Rome during the first leg. They are home at the Bernabeu but Real’s time since the first leg 2-1 loss has been frustrating, eeking by a pesky Recreativo side last weekend, 3-2. Injuries have depleted Bernd Schuster’s squad selection prospects hurt him most on the backline with Sergio Ramos suspended, Christoph Metzelder. The midfield and forward corps could miss the Dutch trifecta of Arjen Robben (definitely missing), Ruud van Nistelrooy, and Wesley Sneijder. AS Roma travels to Spain with little to worry about injury-wise, but certainly a lot to play for.
Prediction: 1-1 (2-3 on aggregate, AS Roma)

Chelsea vs. Olympiakos
(0-0)

Chelsea’s 4-0 win over West Ham United this past weekend mixed with media reports of Chelsea players ready to abandon Avram Grant make it a ‘pull-it-together’ kind of match-up at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will have to strike early and often in order to put away that freak, 90+ minute away goal that puts the EPL title chasers away. The Greek champions managed to beat Lazio away from home, 2-1, and it’s likely the Blues know that.
Prediction: 2-0 (2-0 on aggregate Chelsea)

Yesterday’s Results

Arsenal 2, AC Milan 0 – Cesc Fabregas’ long-range take was nice but don’t you think it was a little more the questionable anticipation of Zeljko Kalac?

Barcelona 1, Celtic 0 – Xavi, CHI February Best XI pick (posted tonight), comes through again but their win is overshadowed by an injury to Lionel Messi

Manchester United 1, Lyon 0 – Lyon looked dangerous in the second half, but experience, some dude named Cristiano Ronaldo, and composure seemingly always trumps flashiness and youth in the end

Sevilla 3, Fenerbahce 2 (5-5 on aggregate, 3-2 Fenerbahce in penalties) – a great game for those spectators that were neutral, for a report on this see Ryan’s – a Sevilla faithful – post

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Sevilla v Fenerbahçe–The Recap?? Sort of.

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I’m not just a fan of the beautiful game, I play it. 5 nights a week in fact.

I remember last season in the Tehel Cup in Buffalo (the oldest Amateur soccer tournament in the country) and we were up 2-0 going into the second half of our game. The feeling I had going into that second half was the same feeling I had in the second half of this Sevilla game. I remember stepping out onto the pitch, trying not to win, but NOT to lose. We ended up drawing 2-2 after extra time, and losing in penalties 3-2 to be outsted from the tournament.

The same thing tonight happened to Sevilla. A terrible first half from both sides, in reality, saw Sevilla with a 3-1 advantage thanks to 2 gifts from Volkan, the Fener keeper. Lack of defending lead to the first Fener goal, and to a 3rd Sevilla goal before the half ended.

That 3rd goal from Kanouté essentially ended Sevilla’s thoughts about scoring, and they did not see another quality chance the rest of the game.

The second half was where it all went wrong. Sevilla came out and didn’t want to put the nail in the coffin. The game got very chippy and closed in, a far cry from the previous free flowing football in the first half. They then decided to go out and ‘not lose.’ This involves not attempting to play any type of attacking football and be content to clock watch until the whistle sounds at 90 minutes. The entire second half had a strange feeling attached to it, as if I was just waiting for the Fener goal to go in.

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