Champions League Round of 16 part 4 of 4

24 02 2010

Who wants it?  Today rounds out the Round of 16 opening matches!

CSKA Moscow  v  Sevilla FC

I know that the other game is the HEADLINER, but this match has gotten very little pub and it maybe should be.  The maybe is because Moscow is relatively unknown to most folks outside of Russia or Eastern Europe and Sevilla is merely another Spanish team.  Nonetheless, this game has the making for an exciting match-up.  CSKA are in rare ground with there making it this far (the farthest they’ve ever been).   Luzhniki Stadium will be rocking the Russian capital as the Army Men (Moscow nickname) look to march off the field victorious.

Do you know where Ivan Drago is seated?

No one really knows how big an impact the Russian capital will have on the game, but i’ll venture to say the Spanish squad may be in for a world of hurt.   The battle will be the Russian defense against the wealth at striker for Sevilla.  If the forwards can be haulted then CSKA can eat away at the beatable defense of Sevilla.  Counter-attack will be the motive of attack for the Army men.

Players to Watch:

Sevilla – Jesus Navas – the boy wonder will need to attack and he’s been quite vocal about just that.

The diminutive midfielder is all about speedy runs and flashy dribbling.  He is some one to keep an eye for his emergence on the World Cup Stage as well.  Now the big “issue” with the talented youngster is that he’s a bit of a baby.  Well in the sense that he doesn’t like being away from home.  No seriously its been a BIG deal for him.  He almost didn’t go with the teams preseason run in the good ol’ US of A.  He finally did make it over and said it went a long way in curing him of his fears.   What will a packed Luzhniki Stadium do to his nerves.  GREAT test wouldn’t you say.  Well if he can perform the youngster may finally get the full respect he deserves.

CSKA Moscow – Igor Akinfeev – The Goalie has to stop the striking arsenal Sevilla has on the pitch.

That’s it Igor – catch the ball.

If Akinfeev can hault the Spanish attackers then the Russians have a big chance to bring home a victory.  He’s got the size to really keep people out and he has shown flashes of greatness.  But he’s also had some big meltdowns.  CSKA Moscow goes as Akinfeev goes is a great way to look at things.

Simply to much attack from Sevilla  2-0 in the heart of Russia should see the Spanish into the next round.  Lets be serious Jose vs Chelsea is the big winner.  But the atmosphere in Moscow is always a fun site and that stadium is HUGE and quite colorful.

* UPDATE – this section above was written prior to kick off.

Internazionale Internazionale  v  Chelsea Chelsea

Jose We KNOW.

The English are coming to the San Siro.  No this isn’t AC Milan vs Man U, its the other Milan (don’t tell that to an Inter fan you viable to lose a pound of flesh for that) vs Chelsea.  Its the Blues facing off with the former great coach.  Its also Carlo “The Maestro” (my nickname btw) Ancelotti return to Italy.  And lets not beat around the bush this game is as much about the coaches as its about the teams.  These two fellas are two of the best of the past three decades. Guys…play nice.

There is also a lot of talent between the two blue squads.  And both teams are without some key names.  Chelsea may have to play the ancient LB Juliano Belletti, the wily Brazilian is needed because Ashley Cole and Yury Zhirkov are both out.  But Carlo sums up Chelsea in a nice nutshell, “Didier is a very important player for us and has scored 25 goals this season.”

But don’t be fooled Chelsea still have Lampard, Essien, Ballack and a slew of talent.  Inter have there own counter for Drogba with there own favorite African.

Mr. Etoo we see you two buddy.  And also like you better now that you look like this.

Aw that’s much better.  And once again don’t be fooled Inter is LOADED with talent.  There is a reason why they are almost walking away with the Serie A title (Roma you know I still love ya and think you can keep up).

Players to Watch:

Chelsea – Florent Malouda – The speedy winger is always a nuisances to defenses.

Florent isn’t maybe as recognizable as Lampard, Ballack, Drogba, Terry or even the monster that is Cech.  But Malouda has been a pretty reliable weapon for the blues.  He gives the midfield there access to the big boys up top (Drogba and usually Anelka ).   He also forces the defense to spread out more.  A player like Lucio (Inter’s stalwart Brazlian CB) may be left on an island against Anelka or Drogba if Malouda can get to the corner and pull over the outside defender.  He may not net the goal, but Florent will have an impact on it getting into the net.

Inter Milan – Esteban Cambiasso – The Mr. Clean look alike is as intelligent and effective as a midfielder can be.

Just watch his positioning, its always flawless.  He is no where as flashy as Sneijder or Stankovic.  Instead he just places himself in the right spot and always finds the open guy from there.   His defensive abilities give him an edge over the slew of talented on the bench that just can’t get passed Jose picking Esteban in his starting XI every time.  And with Chivu and Staton both out for Inter, Esteban’s defensive motor may be called on a lot more.  Expect him to have to play deep and use Wesley’s runs to get the ball forward.  He’ll be ready for the challenge.

I like both teams a lot in the way they execute there game plans.  Jose knows Chelsea like the back of his hand.  Carlo knows the San Siro like the back of his hand.  In the end I see Carlo’s consistent nature vs Jose’s inventive schemes will be the highlight game so far.  This one should be a great matchup…and wait till the Italians go to London and Jose is back in his old stomping grounds…WOW!!   I’ll lean with the home side on this and give the Italians a hard fought 3-1 victory.  Milito will net a goal early.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our predictions of the first half of the Round of 16.  Check back on game days for parts 5-8.




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