Champions League Draw: Quarterfinals and Semifinals

I am sure you’ve already seen it but the quarterfinal draw looks like:

Manchester United v. AS Roma – can Roma avenge the 7-0 drubbing of last year? they did in the group stages

Barcelona v. Schalke 04 – as inconsistent as Barca has been as of late, I wouldn’t put a Schalke shocker out of order, Kevin Kuranyi likes clutch games

Chelsea v. Fenerbahce – another possible upset, but Chelsea will probably see the Turks off with no problem – Mateja Kezman might want to give his old club a lot of trouble though

Arsenal v. Liverpool – battle of the on-form strikers, Adebayor vs. Torres, I’d go with El Nino if I had to pick right now

Semifinal Draw

Manchester United/AS Roma vs. Barcelona/Schalke 04
Chelsea/Fenerbahce vs. Liverpool/Arsenal

Well, what do ya think? Will United breeze by Roma? Is Fenerbahce really an easy draw for Barcelona, especially with how they’ve been playing as of late? Who will come out on top in the Battle of Britain???

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Gimme those predictions: Champions League Round of 16, Leg 2

Tuesday, March 4th

AC Milan vs. Arsenal
                (0-0)

The Gunners could go either way – too young, inexperienced to win at San Siro or young enough to not care or allow intimidation to get in the way of beating Milan at home. Wait…but is anyone telling Alexandre Pato to be nervous?
Prediction: 1-0, AC Milan

Barcelona vs. Celtic
                (3-2)

According to the girlfriend studying abroad in Barcelona, the town is OVERRUN by Celtic jersey-wearing fans, but none of that should affect the outcome of this game. Messi and company won’t mess up a good thing, especially when they need to refocus after a disastrous 4-2 loss to Atletico Madrid this past weekend. Barca is angry and Celtic haven’t won a road match yet in this season’s competition. Doesn’t mean the Hoops won’t fight hard…
Prediction: 2-0 (5-2) Barcelona

Sevilla vs. Fenerbahce
              (2-3)

Sevilla has home advantage which means it’s a virtual guarantee that Luis Fabiano, Frederic Kanoute, Dani Alves will be at the top of their game. If by chance, Alex and Mateja Kezman can catch Drago and Alves sleeping and get an early one, Sevilla could fold under pressure. This is going to be another high scorer though.
Prediction: 3-1 (5-4) Sevilla.

Manchester United vs. Lyon
                     (1-1)

Do you think Sir Alex Ferguson really wants Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa for the $90 million Lyon is asking for? Or is this a mind game – Sir Alex trying to mess with the youngsters’ heads before a big game. It’s a little bit of both and if Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney work their usual magic, even first team goalkeeper and long term injury returnee Gregory Coupet will have a lot of work to do. Nemanja Vidic is supposed to return as well to shore up the defense, one that wasn’t tested much against Fulham. For Lyon though, all it takes is a Juninho set piece – home or away – to put things in the right place for OL.
Prediction: 2-1 (3-2) Manchester United.

Fenerbahçe v Sevilla – Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Sevilla take on Fenerbahçe Wednesday in a stadium that is reminiscent of the Winter Classic played between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Years Day. The current ‘blanket of snow’ aptly named by AS.com is in the process of being cleared.

Sevilla left the homeland for Istanbul with 20 players in tow.
Palop, De Sanctis, Daniel Alves, Mosquera, Drago, Crespo, Fazio, Escudé, Adriano, Renato, Poulsen, Maresca, Keita, Jesús Navas, Tom De Mul, Duda, Diego Capel, Koné, Luis Fabiano Kanouté.

The starting 11 will be:

Luis Fabiano–Kanouté

Capel-Poulsen-Keita-Jesus Navas

Drago-Adriano-Escude-Dani Alves

Palop

 

Today, Sevilla were allowed to practice in the stadium for around 70 minutes. The players described the pitch as ‘not frozen’ but said it was ‘irregular’ (aka It was a mess). Half of the stadium was available to Sevilla, and the other half was busy being cleared off for the match tomorrow.

On to the match itself. Sevilla head into this game unbeaten in their last 4 games (3-1 with the draw coming to Barcelona). Many of the pundits are talking about Sevilla finally <em>finding their form</em> and in fact, Sevilla find themselves sitting in 6th place, which gains them a UEFA Cup spot.

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But this game isn’t about <em>La Liga</em> it’s about the Champions League. I remember watching Liverpool play Beskitas in Turkey during the group stages. I’ve never seen a group of fans as crazy as the Beskitas fans were during that game. For 90 straight minutes the fans never stopped chanting, nor needed any part of their seat as they were standing all game long.

After starting physical therapy at the University at Buffalo Sports Medicine center, I met one of the graduate students, who is Turkish and just so happens to be a Fenerbahçe fan. The last 2 weeks have been nothing but cheap shots at one another, but I’ve also learned something about this Turkish team that I can safely say I knew NOTHING about before meeting him.

He says ‘We love Brazilians’. <em>Marca</em> has an article today entitled ‘Fenerbahçe dances samba’ (in reference to all of the Brazilians on the team. The most notable Brazilian on Fenerbahçe is Roberto Carlos, but they are rather stacked with Brazilians, with <strong>Zico</strong> is in his second year at the club as trainer while <strong>Aurelio</strong> speaks Turkish and is a naturalized Turkish citizen.

On to Sevilla. As mentioned earlier, we are on a 4 game unbeaten streak and want to continue that run through Turkey on Wednesday night. It would be stupid of me not to say the snow could play a bit of a role in the outcome of the game, but fortunately for the game of soccer in general, it is not meant to be played in the snow. Both teams will be struggling if the white stuff starts coming down.

Sevilla have no real injuries to talk about, except that <em>el capitan</em> Javi Navarro is still out and I still have no clue when he’ll be back. Chevantón is also out injured for a month, but will not really be of any necessity with both Luis Fabiano and Kanouté ready for the challenge.

Hopefully Sevilla can keep the scoring boots on and find the back of the net while on the away leg. Away goals are always a premium in these home-at-home series.

Some talk has been made of Diego Capel’s diving ability. As I posted on here a few weeks ago, Capel draws a yellow card every 69 minutes he is on the pitch and has 22 yellow cards against him in the first half of La Liga. That’s an insane amount of cards. He isn’t a diver. In the games I’ve caught this season, I have only seen him dive once or twice, not any more than your normal professional footballer.

That’s all I’ve got as I have a soccer game myself to catch. Let me know your thoughts about Sevilla in the comments!