Opening matches for the Round of 16 continues with the second day…
London’s mighty Gunners travel to Porto’s Estadio do Dragoa, aka Stadium of the Dragons. Arsenal will be in a huge bind because of an injury bug. The big key names out are: Defender William Gallas (back), midfielder Alex Song (knee) and Andrei Arshavin (hamstring), goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and striker Eduardo (hamstring). Also, Robin Van Persie, Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou have been out for a while. So the Arsenal lineup will have to go quite deep, and a veteran name may just creep into the starting lineup – Sol Campbell.
It’ll be great to see the wily-old-beast back in his defense. Along with Thomas Vermaelen, Sol should Shine. Tough opening match for the Gunners overall though.
FC Porto will try and regain there prowess over English squads. They also have a new look to there attack. They’ve had to find ways to replace suspended Hulk by letting Silvestre Varela slide into that spot. He’s blossomed and also awakened his striking partner, Mariano González. Captain of the Dragons, Bruno Alves, has already come out and said that Arsenal’s play maker Cesc Fabregas scares him.
“Fabregas is the most important player in Arsenal’s attacking play,”
Bruno continued with, “He organises the game and we have to be prepared for him.”
Overall I think Arsenal’s best chance will be to control the time and hope to escape with an away goal or two. Porto’s Champions League season may be more important since Benfica is 9 points up in season play.
Players to Watch for:
FC Porto – Fernando Belluschi – The #7 man
The Mighty Germans are back. With one of the most exciting Bundesliga’s in recent years the long-time giants have had to amp things up. O and boy have they, 12 wins in a row! It’ll be a tall order for the purple ones to steal anything in front of a sold out Munich crowd. And the German Bundesliga has continued to dominate the soccer world in terms of fans attendance. The numbers will break records this year as they continue to pull in more fans then ANY and EVER other European soccer league (DID YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY!! YES YOU DID!! Read this to find out more). In the end the Italians will have so much to deal with it to actual stand a chance in this match up. Especially with there recent lack of scoring, and Adrian Mutu is still suspended – OUCH.
The Viola do have cool uni’s – lets hope they go with these for there Munich melee.
It is a bit funny that Fiorentina’s lack of style mirrors TOYOTA Decline into automotive hell (The lawsuits have already begun!) In the end though I doubt anything can help the Italians against the Bavarian giants.
Players to Keep and Eye on:
Fiorentina – Alberto Gilardino – he’s nicknamed “Gila” – now i know its the start of his last name – but i’m sure he’s come to find out that in Hebrew – Gila – means “Joy”. And that is what Alberto is all about. He’s an exciting and creative player to witness and if you’ve never seen him – take an day off work and watch him for real!!! He’ll do something special in front of the German faithful.
Gila has been the only scoring threat now that Mutu is off the books for his suspension. Everything really runs through his ability to get open. It’ll be very interesting to see what players Viola coach Cesare Prandelli puts into the line-up. He’ll be without defender Alessandro Gamberini and winger Mario Santana who were both injured in Fiorentina’s last Serie A game against Sampadoria (2-0 loss).
Bayern Munich – Bastian Schweinsteiger –
The young superstar has played every minute of CL play and has not registered a goal or even an assist. Bastian its ABOUT freaking time. The wing midfielder is not as big as a name as Ribery or Robben to the world, but German fans know all to well who there future Midfield genius is. The 25 year-old has one of the wickedest long curling shots around and the Champions League should always have a soft spot for the young man. His first call-up to the first team of Munich was in a group stage battle in 2002 against French squad RC Lens. And he registered an assist in the victory. Bastian is a name to remember for Germany in South Africa for the World Cup. I full expect the “new Stefan Effenberg” to shine in front of the home squad. He’s a leo like Effenberg. Hey read this on one of those horoscope sites – “From February 8th through the 28th, Mars and Saturn are joining forces to help you work on…” – work on futbol? goals? new hairdo?
Prediction – Would you want to enter in here –
Fiorentina may not want to cross that bridge. It’ll be really harsh game. Last time the Italians visited they were beat 3 to NOTHING. I see that happening again. Bayern Munich – 3 Fiorentina – 0.
Can’t Wait till next week. Tune in on for parts 3 and 4 starting next week as well.