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!!! 

 

 

 

 

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Vidic & co. let the devils down

It was a sorry scoreline and a sorry performance for Manchester United against Liverpool. I mean this is a team that might have had the most 1-0 victories of the last two seasons. And after scoring the first goal off a Ronaldo penalty I was sure they’d seal the match off even if they didnt score another goal. How wrong was i gonna be…

Coz Liverpool did manage to bring things even through a superb Torres goal. He is one of those players you want to hate as they are not in the team you support but cant help like cause of the sheer quality they show on the field.

The ball was cleared under pressure from the Liverpool defense and Vidic who should’ve cleared the ball at the first chance he got, mistimed the header and let torres in on a one on one with Van der sar who could do much to the aptly put ball in the corner of the Man United goal.

Torres gets away from a struggling Vidic to score Kop's first goal
Torres gets away from a struggling Vidic to score Kop’s first goal

Next it was Evra’s turn to let his team down. He slid in with a tackle which saw none of the ball but instead some of Gerrard’s leg. Down went Gerrard and the referee pointed out to the spot. Gerrard misses quite rarely from the spot and sure was not gonna miss one in a match of this magnitude.

Evra brings down Gerrard to give Liverpool a penalty and a 1-2 lead
Evra brings down Gerrard to give Liverpool a penalty and a 1-2 lead
Gerrard's joy knows no bounds as he kisses the Camera!!!

Gerrard's joy knows no bounds as he kisses the Camera!!!

Next Vidic is the culprit again. As he brings Torres down just outside the box to not just be sent off but also allow Fabio Aurelio to place a perfectly taken free kick to give Liverpool the 3-1 lead and an extra person’s advantage.

Aurelio slots in the perfect free kick after Vidic is sent off
Aurelio slots in the perfect free kick after Vidic is sent off

Finally Dossena scored his second late goal in so many games for Liverpool to finish the match off at an incredible 1-4 scoreline after Ferdinand’s faliure to clear the ball. Dossena’s finishing is much better than Bendtnar and he’s just a left back.

Manchester united supporters leave the ground as liverpool take a 4-1 lead
Manchester united supporters leave the ground as liverpool take a 4-1 lead

Vidic has arguably been the best player for United this season and he didnt look half that player in this game. He was completely overshadowed by Torres in this match and looked a little scared of the striker to be frank.

That goes for the whole of United back four. The United defense has been the best in the whole of Barclays Premier League this season. But they never turned up in this match. Maybe they were tired with the sheer number of matches that they’ve had to play in the last couple of weeks. Maybe the mind games that Gerrard, Torres, Rafa and co. were playing got to them. Or maybe this was one of those off days that every person has once in a while. Now that the damage is done, i hope its the latter. Lets hope it was a one off day that the United defense had and that they will bounce off well next week against Fulham.

I have a strong feeling that the team will bounce back after receiving the hairdryer treatment from Sir Alex Ferguson. Fulham will be the poor team that bears the brunt.

 Buck up Manchester United…Falling is no evil, falling and not standing up sure is:)

EPL Results & Review (4th & 5th October 2008)

Like i had told in my preview to the weekends big 4 clashes none of the matches was a cakewalk for either of the big 4’s.

One had a easy victory, one needed a slice of luck (liberal refreeing), one needed to fight back with all they had till the very last minutes of the game to get 3 points and another had to fight even harder till late into the injury time to snatch even a point from the game.

Chelsea had a relatively easy win over Aston Villa. First-half goals from Joe Cole and Nicolas Anelka kept Scolari’s men at the top of the Barclays Premier League, and it could have been more but for the reflexes of Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel. The hosts, already without the services of host of their star players then saw midfielder Cole limp off as he picked up his apparent foot injury and hobbled down the tunnel. Anelka, struggling with some spasms before the match, was also taken off at the break meaning Franco di Santo got a decent run for full 45 minutes. Branislav Ivanovic also made his league debut for Chelsea and appeared to be in control with John terry in the heart of the Chelsea defence.

Manchester United needed a bit of luck as brown broke the deadlock just after the half an hour mark as referree seem to have ignored the fowl of Vidic on the Blackburn goalkeeper Brown. Once that goal happened ManU looked like a completely different side showing glimpses of the Manu of last season. Ronaldo set up Rooney for just after the hour mark for the English player to continue his decent goal-scoring form off late. Tevez and Berbatov had chances which the strikers could not finish unfortunately with the formers effort hitting the cross bar.

Liverpool left it late for Dirk Kuyt to snatch the winner before 2 goals from none other than Fernando Torres had cancelled Manchester City’s lead. Stephen Ireland scored the opened for Man city and Javier Garrido the young left back scored from a super free kick to double their lead. Rafa must have given his team some very important team talk as they looked completely in control in the second half. Man City also took the foot off the pedal and were happy defending in numbers but had to pay the Price as Torres slotted in from close range to reduce the lead by half. Man City were made to pay the price further as Zabaleta was sent off by referee Peter Walton for what the official deemed as a two-footed lunge on Alonso. Torres soon doubled the lead by putting in a header from Steven Gerrards corner. Dirk Kuyt scored 2 minutes into the injury time to give Liverpool all 3 points and leaving Mark Hughes wondering what went wrong for his side after they had taken a comfortable 2 goals lead.

In the fourth match of the Big 4’s this weekend, Arsenal’s bad form in the Premier league continued with Wenger’s boys almost facing consecutive defeats at the hands of Roy Keane’s Sunderland. Sunderland played defensively all along and left Arsenal to create very few chances. Robin Van Persie’s goal before the hour mark was disallowed after the referree deemed that ball had gone out of play before Theo Walcott crossed it in the box for RVP to score. Replays suggested otherwise. Nothing seemed to go right for the Arsenal team as the deadlock was finally broken with four minutes remaining when Leadbitter drilled the ball past Almunia and in off the underside of the bar, although the drama was far from over there. With the game in the third of four minutes of stoppage-time, Fabregas headed van Persie’s corner home to snatch a point and rescue his side. Arsene Wenger will have a lot of thinking and tinkering to do to his side who have so far shown a lot of incosistencies this season.

In some other Matches over the Weekend, Hull City beat Tottenham Hotspurs and continue to amaze all and are now sitting 3rd in the league table. Spurs on the other hand sit right at the bottom of the table with just 2 points from 7 games. Geovanni was the scorer for Hull and continues his knack of scoring audacious goals with a stupendous free kick already having scored 2 stunning goals this season.

 Everton were held by Newcastle in a 2-2 draw. Bolton ran 3-1 winners against West Ham away. Both Engalnd internation strikers i.e. Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch scored to help Portsmouth to a 2-1 victory over stoke city. West Brom defeated Fulham 1-0 to take all 3 points.

The newly promoted sides this season definitely look much better than last years. Though only time will tell if all or any of them will be in the premier league the next season too.

Below are the list of EPL results i have compiled for you, so enjoy: –

         
 
West Ham
1-3 Bolton  
  Cole 68:41   Davies 29:39  
    Cahill 33:27  
    Taylor 86:00  
 
Tottenham
0-1 Hull  
      Geovanni 8:08  
 
Chelsea
2-0 Aston Villa  
  Cole 20:45      
  Anelka 43:04    
 
Man City
2-3 Liverpool  
  Ireland 18:16   Torres 54:52  
  Garrido 40:48 Torres 72:47  
    Kuyt 90:00(1:17)  
 
Portsmouth
2-1 Stoke  
  Crouch 24:52   Fuller 47:39  
  Defoe 50:18    
 
Everton
2-2 Newcastle  
  Arteta 16:43 Scored   Taylor 45:00(1:32)  
  Fellaini 34:27 Duff 46:16  
 
Sunderland
1-1 Arsenal  
  Leadbitter 85:05   Fabregas 90:00(2:45)  
 
West Brom
1-0 Fulham  
  Bednar 60:26      
       
 
Wigan
0-1 Middlesbrough  
      Aliadiere 88:21  
 
Blackburn
0-2 Man Utd  
      Brown 30:10  
    Rooney 63:19  
         

Do leave your comments if any..