Barcelona v Chelsea semifinal it is then!!!

What an amazing game of football did we see last night… Chelsea were caught napping in the first half to go down by 2 goals and almost give the Kops a chance to go through…
Gus Hiddink must have had some magic words to say to his team at half time coz the chelsea that turned up in th beginning of the second half was something else… They scored 3 goals to put the game beyond Liverpool..
But i’d have to agree with a lot of pundits out there that Liverpool is one of thos sides that you can never write off in Europe. They scored 2 late goals in around 2 minutes to put the score at 4-3.
The game was there for the taking again, Liverpool needed just 1 more goal to go through.
But it wasnt meant to be for Liverpool, they came so close and yet it wasnt meant for them to go through to the Semi finals. Lampard scored a late goal to make it 4-4 and put the tie well beyond Liverpool’s reach.
But chelsea were looking a distant shadow of the side that so comfortably outplayed Liverpool in all facets of the game last week.
Petr Cech in particular looked like he had been drunk at times. He really was a bag of nerves, unsure where his goal post was and unable to catch hold of the ball or punch it clear into safety.
Alex scored a stunning goal through a free kick.The pace and power of his free licks remind me of another Brazilian free kick legend Roberto Carlos.
Lampard had 2 goals against his name by the end of the match. Drogba was lucky and helped in a big way for his goal by Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.
For Liverpool, Aurelio scored a great goal to break the dead lock in the game through a stunning free kick. Xabi alonso doubled the liverpool lead from the spot when he was brought down in the box by Ivanovic.
Lucas was lucky to have his shot deflected into goal for Liverpool’s third and Dirk Kuyt headed in Liverpool’s 4th from a Riera cross.
The final score was 4-4 and we witnessed a stunning night of European football.
Liverpool have crashed out of the Chmpions League alright, but they go out with their heads held high and with the utmost dignity of a side that was up to any challenge but it just wasnt there night to be.

In the other game of the night Barca went through comfortably into the Semi final after a 5-1 aggregate score following a tame 1-1 draw in the second leg at Bayern Munich.
Today predictions: –

Manchester united to crash out… (Which i hope they dont)
Arsenal to go through on penalties… (Which i hope they do)

See ya after the games tonight…

Barcelona v Chelsea Semi Final!!!

Another Splendid night of European Football…

Barcelona – Bayern Munich:  4-0

Barcelona thrashed Bayern for 4-0 at home..That went right with my prediction… The tie is all done now and beyond Bayern’s reach.

Bayern were caught napping in the first half as Barca started scoring for fun.  It was as if Bayern defense did not do any homework for the Barca Trinity. They looked dazed at the ease at which Barca started scoring.

Messi & co. lead Barca closer to the Semi Final

Messi & co. lead Barca closer to the Semi Final

Messi led the Barca attack scoring 2 of the 4 goals and Eto and Henry shared 1 each.

Liverpool v Chelsea:  1-3

Look at Xabi alonso, he typifes Liverpools performance: Caught Sleeping

Look at Xabi alonso, he typifes Liverpools performance: Caught Sleeping

In Liverpool the story was much different.. Where inspite of the early Lead Benitez’s men could not keep their nerve’s and Branislav Ivanovic was the unlikely hero as he slid 2 from 2 corners past Pepe Reina in the Liverpool Goal. Drogba , the big match player that he is, scored the third for Chelsea from a delightful team effort to make it 1-3 for Chelsea. This tie too is almost beyond Liverpool now as they cannot be expected to go to Chelsea and win 3-0.

Ivanovic: Unlikely Hero for the Night...

Ivanovic: Unlikely Hero for the Night...

Chelsea showed great character to comeback so strongly from being 1 down. They were helped strongly by the unlikely hero of the night Branislav Ivanovic who put two delightful headers past Reina.

So what have we got at the end of the first leg of the Quarter finals. 2 teams that are more or less through , 1 team which has all the chance of making it there and 1 which has a tough task ahead to make it to the next stage.

I feel Arsenal will sail through and Man U might struggle. But this is Champions league my friend, the tournament where you can seldom predict the outcome, the tournament of tactics, the tournament of away goal rules and where away goals rule…

So lets just wait for a week and know for sure…

Champions League Quarter finals Preview

Yesterday’s matches both ended in a draw. Will tonight be any different?

Lets take a look at the would be squads and the history to see if it actually might be any different.

Liverpool v Chelsea: –

The drawback of playing in one of the most competitive leagues in the world is that sometimes you have to face one of your local adversaries in Europe much earlier than you would like. And this precisely is no new thing to Chelsea and Liverpool.

Chelsea will travel to Liverpool in a bid to advance further in the Knock out stages of the championship. But the impetus will surely be with the home team who are currently on a roll of good form and have already beaten Chelsea in their own backyard earlier in this season.

Mentally it would be tough for the blues to forget how Liverpool broke one of the longest standing records in Premiership history when they defeated Chelsea at home, who had been undefeated for years…

Here are the team details as per The Telegraph:

Team details

Liverpool (4-2-3-1, r-l): Reina; Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio; Alonso, Lucas; Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera; Torres.
Chelsea (4-3-3, r-l): Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, A Cole; Mikel, Essien, Lampard; Kalou, Drogba, Malouda.
Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark)

Gerrard- Torres combo is sure on fire for Liverpool off late and I am sure they will be key if Liverpool is to take any advantage to Stamford Bridge in the second Leg.

Dangerous Duo, Beware Europe

Dangerous Duo, Beware Europe

For Chelsea it would be the midfield which will be very crucial. Lampard, Essien and Mikel will have to dictate the tempo of the game and control it to Chelsea’s favor. Would be interesting to see how Drogba performs tonight. He is the type of player who usually performs in big matches, and does it get bigger than this?

Lampard and Essien will have to dominate the midfield

Lampard and Essien will have to dominate the midfield

I feel Liverpool will have an edge, more due to the tremendous recent form they have had both in the European competition and the Barclays Premier League.

 Barcelona v Bayern Munich: –

Even before i start discussing the two teams its better we take a look at the teams first. So here ar ethe team details once again thanks to The Telegraph:

Team details

Barcelona (probable, 4-1-2-3): Valdes; Alves, Marquez, Pique, Puyol; Xavi; Keita, Iniesta; Messi, Eto’o, Henry.
Bayern Munich (probable, 4-3-3): Rensing; Oddo, Demichelis, Van Buyten, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Ze Roberto, Van Bommel; Ribery, Toni, Podolski.
Referee: H Webb (England).

Well both sides here are extremely good on paper stuffed with world class players and its difficult to choose one. Then again its difficult to choose on paper. Anyone following the La liga will know of the sheer domination Pep Guardiola’s team has had on the Spanish league this season.

So my pick would be Barcelona. They would be playing at home and if all goes will the tie would be decided in the first leg itself (assuming they score 4/5 goals). But underestimating Bayern would be a mistake as Guardiola would know that Jorgen Klinsmann’s men could well dent the Barcelona defense and get the crucial away goals so coveted in this stage of the tournament.

Messi holds the key for Barca going forward and he has been in the form of his life. Luckily he hasn’t had any major injuries this season and so he has been able to reach the high expectations people have set for him. Lot would be expected from him again this time as he would be up against the wily & crafty Phillip Lahm who is no stranger to the tricks of the trade.

Messi, the man in form

Messi, the man in form

For Bayern Ribery would be the man to be watched for. He is on the target-list of all the top clubs of Europe with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona themselves interested in signing the player. He would definitely like to impress one of his prospective suitors with a dazzling performance.

Ribery, the man to watch out for

Ribery, the man to watch out for

All in all, I think Barca would have just a little too much going for them to be able to be stopped by Bayern.

Will update final score after the match… Till then Adieus!!! 

 

 

 

 

Champions League Quarter Final draws are out!!!

Arsenal and Manchester United were handed relatively easy ties against Villareal and Porto while Liverpool face off Chelsea and Barcelona go against German giants Bayern Munich.

Below is a table depicting the dates and the home and away teams from the UEFA website:

UEFA Champions League quarter-finals
1st leg: 07/08 April; 2nd leg: 14/15 April 
1 Villarreal CF (ESP) v Arsenal FC (ENG)
2 Manchester United FC (ENG, holders) v FC Porto (POR)
3 Liverpool FC (ENG) v Chelsea FC (ENG)
4 FC Barcelona (ESP) v FC Bayern München (GER)

One sad news for the English teams is that either Chelseas or Liverpool will not reach the Semi’s yet again. Last time Chelsea pipped Liverpool out in the Semi’s, but on the current form doesnt look like that would be easy this time. Man United in my view have got the easiest opponents of the lot. They really should not face much difficulty going through to the Semi finals.

Also Arsenal seem to have got another of the easy opponents. I would expect them too to go through to the Semi’s. The sad thing for Arsenal is that even though they get through to the Semi’s they might end up facing current Champions Manchester United and ther challenge might be put to an end at the hands of their English rivals.

In form Barcelona will face another in form team in Bayern Munich. The winner of this fixture will either meet Liverpool or Chelsea in the other Semi Final as depicted in the table below.

UEFA Champions League semi-finals
1st leg: 28/29 April; 2nd leg: 5/6 May 
1 Winner quarter-final 2 v Winner quarter-final 1
2 Winner quarter-final 4 v Winner quarter-final 3

Great fixtures over all. Should be interesting to see some great football…