Thursday, April 12, 2007

Champions League Semis - an English affair

England is guaranteed to have a domestic team in the finals for the third straight year (Arsenal last season and Liverpool the year before).

A recap of the 1/4 finals:

  • Liverpool made quick work of PSV, defeating the Dutch giant 3-0 on the first leg, playing the game on the continent meant that Liverpool had a 3 away goal lead...hard to overcome. The return leg at Anfield was just a formality, with Liverpool winning 1-0.
  • Chelsea, once again, got lucky. A last minute softish goal by Essien on the short side when Casnizares over played the wide side of his net, and had a clear view of the shot. When 5 minutes earlier he made a fantastic save off a Ballack header. After finding a way to come back against Porto, Chelsea did it again against another Iberian club...
  • Manchester United, demolished the lads from Roma. Watching the game I was wondering how a club that is second in a top level domestic league can possibly give up 7 goals! Have some pride!
  • AC Milan, after conceding a late goal on the first leg, it appeared that Bayern had the advantage but the Milanaise club had too much talent for the Bavarian giants.
The match ups for the semi finals:

  • Chelsea v Liverpool: An old fashion Premiership match up. Liverpool is one of England's most successful Champions League clubs, Chelsea is seeking to validate their recent success by winning the ultimate prize. While Liverpool is looking to win 2 titles in 3 years and rescue what is otherwise a disappointing domestic season. Chelsea is still banged up, especially on defense, and they have been playing many games so need to wonder what their fitness level will be. They are also under the microscope of pursuing 3 more titles, Mourinho's constant soap opera and the pursuit of Manchester United. Both teams know each other very well, so there should be no surprises. Liverpool is one of the hotest teams currently, and have been playing especially well in the Champions League. As for Chelsea, I think they have been lucky the past two rounds, and being too focused on their FA Cup and Domestic runs they will find their luck running out.....Prediction - much like two seasons ago, Liverpool 1 - Chelsea 0 on aggregate.
  • AC Milan v Manchester United: After the 7-1 drubbing everyone might expect that ManU will feast again on another Italian club. But not so fast...I think that AC Milan, while underachieving in their domestic league run have been playing very well in the Champions League. Their midfield should be able to match the Manchester United midfield, I think the difficultly will be the aged backs AC plays - Maldini and Cafu. Can they handle the speed that Ronaldo and Rooney will throw at them? The winner will be the team who's talismatic midfielder does better - Kaka or Ronaldo. I think the edge goes slightly to Ronaldo....but it will be closer than expected.....Prediction - Manchester United 3 - AC Milan 2 on aggregate.
After Chelsea falls short again from Champions League glory, Mourinho takes his verbal diarrhea and arrogance to Real Madrid. Hiddink is hired as the new manager for Chelsea and then Abromovich sells the club which sees all their mercinaries....I mean players, scatter to other clubs.

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