Champions League Is Finally Back

16 02 2010

Tuesday marks the start of the Round of 16 with a battle in France and Italy.

The first game pits…

Lyon  v  Real Madrid

The match-up marks the highly anticipated return of Lyon’s former wunderkind, Karim Benzema.

In the summer Benzema was part of the “big spending” of Real Madrid and he spoke to RTL radio about his return to the Stade Gerland.

“I’m fine, ready to play, be it from the start or for the last half-hour.

“I hope that I get a good reception in Lyon and I think that I’m going to have a good match. It is a historic moment for me, it’s a pleasure to return to Lyon.”

For Madrid’s sake he better be.  The Spanish giants haven’t advanced to the quarters since 03′ and Lyon has had there number as of late.

In particular the french have won the last two home games against the Spanish.   Granted those two Real Madrid squads didn’t include Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema – all of whom are expected to start in Lyon.

The fires will be poked some more if Real Madrid starts there talented Defensive Midfielder Lassana Diarra, who is also a Lyon product.

In the end I do see the French being victorious, but not without letting at least one crucial away goal from the high-powered offense of Madrid.

Key players that don’t have the names Ronaldo, Benzema, and Kaka:

For Lyon –  Michel Bastos –

Michel here in his old Lille uniform (he is a new member to the mighty Lyon side.)  Ok, so most my knowledge of the young Brazilian comes from Fifa 2009 for the x-box 360.  Hell I did win the whole French league with Lille and Bastos was my anchor.  In real life his move to Lyon has been one to be rejoiced as his flair and Roberto Carlos like ability, to fly off his defense position to act as another attacker, is reason to watch the game.

For Madrid – Iker Casillas-

The # 1 keeper for the mighty Spain, along with Real, will have to deal with the pesky nature of Lyon.  Especially keeping an eye for Sidney Govou, who is known for firing a rocket from way outside the box.  Iker has had to deal with numerous lapse in Madrid’s defense and also injuries to Sergio Ramos.  In the end the GK will need to be huge if a return match in Spain is going to be worth a damn.  But if he’s not at least he gets to go home to this lovely lady.

Her name is Eva Gonzales if you want to google more about her.

The French fans should be out an about for their mighty Lyon.  It’ll be tight with all the controlling ability of Real Madrid, but 3-1 victory for the OL is what I see in my crystal ball.

Now to the other battle and a fella named – BECKHAM!!!

AC Milan  v  Manchester United

David has said all the right things leading up to this match in Italy.  The San Siro will be a raucous environment and the Red Devils from Manchester have not done well in Milan.  Win-less in all four meetings, though two took place before 1970.  However, Milan has been quiet terrible at home this Champions League and Manchester United has been on a tear, away from the stoic Old Trafford stadium.  In the end this is a ripe match-up with “gritty” written all over it.  I don’t see this matching the “beauty” of Lyon vs Real Madrid.  Expect a dirty game with possible yellows that could effect who ever survives the game.

Lets get back to David for a second.   Like most Man U fans David Beckham is a staple of the Red Devils.  He spent 12 years playing @ Old Trafford and built a world-wide fascination that has changed the whole face of soccer to the world.  In America he’s become a big draw and lets face it, whether you hate or love him, you’re interested in the game because of HIM.

Now both the squads have world class talents: Ronaldino (World player of the year 2004 and 2005), Wayne Rooney (England’s hopes lie on the bulldog and have since his historic switch from boy hood Everton to Mighty Man U), Gianluigi Buffon (widely regarded as the best GK in the world), and a slew of others (Rio Ferdinand being my favorite!!!).

It’ll be most interesting to see who is called on to start and the choice is on Milan’s Brazilian Legend/Manager Leonardo if he wants to “fight” it out with his gritty players or “fancy” it up with more skilled line-up.   He’ll be without Marco Borriello who is out with injury and gives way for the dutch giant Klass Van Hunterlaar to finally get a chance to prove he is worth all the fuss.

For Sir Alex Ferguson its also about who is healthy – Rio will be back but his partner in defense Nemanja Vidic and Mr. United himself Ryan Giggs are both out for the first leg match (expect them both back for the England game though!!!).

So with all the star players who to watch out for?

For Milan -Alexander Pato aka “The Duck” -(by the way Pato in Portuguese means Duck – if you’re wondering wtf?)

The young Brazilian is returning to the line-up from injury.  Watch out if Pato gets loose in a depleted Man U defense he’ll wreck havoc all game long.  Especially if Becks and Ronaldinho are on the A-game with there passing.  Also watch out for Andrea Pirlo – the ageless Milan Center Mid – seems to have a six sense with where Pato will end up on plays.

For Manchester United – Can you name the player Sir Alex Ferguson has started the most this year?  No its not Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, or how about Eric Cantona (well ok maybe not Eric anymore).  Its a frenchman though, Patrice Evra.  The wily Left back has been a staple for Sir Alex and has become a solid rock for the Red Devils.

This photo is fitting.  For Rooney to truly play at his best up-top he’ll need Patrice to fly off that left side and pull away a defender from the English Bull Dog.

These two Red teams are two of my favorites.  I owe my love of soccer to Eric Cantona (Man U) and Paolo Maldini (AC Milan).

Eric the Great

The Defensive Maestro for over two decades with Milan – Maldini!!!

I’m going to say the Milan faithful will end up shocked as the gritty match-up sees more yellow cards then goals.

1-1 draw with both sides having some scares is fitting and should set up a barn burner in the return leg in England.

Check in Tomorrow for those two battles.




One response

8 04 2012

I like it

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