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domingo, 22 de febrero de 2009

THE FIRST KNOCKOUT ROUND OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE(I) (article in English and Español)

Finally the First Knockout round of the Champions League, the moment of truth for the big European clubs arrives with uncertain draws in all the cases. On Tuesday at 20.45 ce.t we will have the first game of the draw between:

1-FC Porto-Atletico Madrid:
Keys:-¿who will show a better performance, the Atlético´s duo Kun Aguero-Diego Forlan or the Argentine Porto´s duo Lucho González-Lisandro Lopez (Lisandro is not making a great season, but if last season he could score 24 goals in 27 games was because he is a brilliant striker and he appears when the team needs his goals, like for example during the crucial game against Fenerbahçe and Arsenal some months ago) -.
-The rhythm of game, cause as the new Atlético´s coach, Abel Resino, has been recognized the players of Atletico Madrid are not goo fitness and they have many problems during the last minutes of the game, so FC Porto should impose a high rhythm of play if it wants to have more chance to win this round.
-Defensive rigour: Both teams are receiving quite a lot of goals-Atletico Madrid has received 35 in 24 league games and FC Porto, 18 in 15 Portuguese Superliga (last season, Porto received only 13 goals in 30 games) and they want have any chance in this Champions League, they should improve once to see the authentic level of players like Ujfalusi, Perea, Heitinga or Rolando, Pedro Emanuel and Fucile.
Our favourite: Atlético Madrid, because it has better quality in the squad and besides its players are more experienced, although the Perea´s injury can be decisive-he will be out 2 months-, because if Pablo Ibañez play in the starting lineup, FC Porto has many chances to win, because Pablo is a very bad and unsecure player.

2-Olympique Lyon-FC Barcelona
Obviously everyone thinks that FC Barcelona is the clear favourite in this round, because the Pep Guardiola's team is making an impressive season, showing an excellent play´s level and a great record during this season in all the championships thanks to the wonderful season of players like the amazing Messi (29 goals in 43 games) and the indomitable Samuel Eto'o (34 goals in 37 games). But FC Barcelona fans should not be relied and think these games will be easy, since if Espanyol could win yesterday at Camp Nou, ¿what can do Olympique Lyon? Specially this Olympic Lyon, which is a much more competitive team than other years. Perhaps it plays worse and it is a less offensive team, but this is the style of the great French coach Claude Puel, whose team always bear his stamp of identity, order, work, sacrifice-Lyon is showing a better defensive performance (it has received 16 goals league goals in 24 games-last season it received 37in 38 games-). In addition to these characters, Lyon offers another feature, the quality, reflected in players like Benzema-he is not having his best season in terms of score goals, but we know his power, quality and ability to decide a match (this season, he has scored 19 goals in 37 games)-, Juninho-excellent if we speak about the free-kick-, Ederson-the new Junihno is starting to show all his great potential- or the powerful Midfielders Jean Makoun and Jeremy Toulalan-both will be key if Olympique wants to have any chance to beat FC Barcelona, because it will be very important their task to stop the FC Barcelona´s playmakers, trying to steal balls to start quick and dangerous attacks with players like Kader Keita, Benzema or Ederson, who are much better than Nene and Ivan Alonso (Espanyol´s strikers). So, it is a complicated round for both teams and finally we will see the Pep Guardiola´s performance during a difficult test,¿will we see some more Guardiola´s experiments like during the Espanyol´s game?
Injuries: Govou, Réveillère in Lyon; Abidal, Milito and Iniesta in FC Barcelona

3-Inter Milan-Manchester United
it is a very close eliminatory…because these are very similar teams, since both have excellent defensive level-Van der Sar received his last goal 1302 minutes and the Inter´s defensive line in general and Julio Cesar in particular are showing a great strength- and both have a lot of quality in the offensive line with players such as the destabilizing Cristiano Ronaldo (16 goals in 37 games during this season), Berbatov,Rooney, Adriano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (this season 17 goals in 36 games ). The truth is that it is difficult to choose a favourite, but maybe we think that Inter has more chances to win this draw, since the great José Mourinho is always a guarantee for this type of games and besides he was preparing the team for these games-finally the best system for this Inter is the 4-4-2 with a powerful midfield-because the Champions is the main objective for Inter and Mourinho, whose players come to this draw totally focused, since we can say that Inter will win the Scudetto easily, which we can not say about Manchester United, since it will have more difficulties to win the English Premiership and of course Sir Alex Ferguson will not can concede rest during the weekend to the key players of the team. Anyway, we will have amazing games in this draw.

4-FC Arsenal-AS Roma It is a nice draw between 2 teams whose philosophy is very similar, since both teams want to show a great and offensive play, showing very open games. In this case, we think that AS Roma will have more chances to play next round, because we think that the Spalleti´s team is much more competitive, because it has a better defensive level, which is decisive in this kind of games. AS Roma had a horrible start of the season but bit by bit it improved the level and the results and now we can say that it is in its best moment of the season-specially if we talk about the result (the last defeat against Atalanta should be understood as an accident)-thanks to return of the great captain Francesco Totti-he is the soul of the team (this season, 8 goals in 20 games)-, the reborn of Julio Baptista and the opportunism of Mirko Vucinic(this season,16 goals in 32 games), who will have many facilities to score when they play against the innocent Arsenal´s defensive line-I did not understand as Arsene Wenger did not seek a solution in the winter market. It is a good news to acquire a player like Arsahvin, but ¿what ´s the matter with the defensive line?To win this kind of draw is necessary to have a balance squad and specially good defensive and experience central midfielders, which we can find in the Arsenal squad ... So, this is big problem but this is not the only one for Wenger, since he will suffer important absences, since there are injured important players like Fabregas, Rosicky or Eduardo- the Croatian has injured again (now he will be out during 2 months) - ...So, too many problems to play with some guarantees against a great team like AS Roma, whose only the question is whether the defensive line can show strength without the play of the experienced Christian Panucci-he is suspended after his critics to the team-, since Mexes is capable of the best and the worst ... but despite Mexes, we think that AS Roma will win this round, where we will see many goals.
Injuries:AS Roma: Marco Cassetti and Florian Pit; Menez and Aquilani are hesitant. Arsenal:Fabregas, Rosicky, Eduardo.
Enjoy.
Cheers,
J&F

1 comentario:

Pep dijo...

I too love the quality of Roma Arsenal as matchup. Both sides almost petulantly refuse to be pragmatic.Each taking pride in playing football in the spirit of their identities.I expect and hope for two fantastic games.As a ROmainsta i am terribly worried about our Defence.If Roma can leave London with a draw i will be very pleased.

Pep

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