Elimination time part 1 of 4.

8 03 2010

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Arsenal   v    FC Porto

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The Spanish captain will be in street clothes, but the Londoners do get there Goalie back.

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FC Porto have the 2-1 aggregate lead and Manuel Almunia will need to be on and hope for some offense.  This game is all about who will step up in place of Cesc.  Arsene Wenger has it right though, they are still the favorites in the match.

“We have enough players and a strong enough squad to get round that and have enough chances to qualify.”

Arsenal haven’t done well when in similar scenarios, 1 win in 9 tries where they’ve been down the aggregate in the second match.  FC Porto have been shockingly terrible in league play (to there standards that is).   The dragons have enough talent to swoop into the Capital and move on.   On the whole back and forth though, Arsenal crushed the Portuguese last time 4-0 in London.

Players to Watch:

Arsenal – Tomáš Rosický – The Cesc Kid.

Love me those #7’s.

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He assisted on the first-leg goal.  Another repeat of that feat and Captain Almunia shut out and the team will move on away goals.  It’ll be interesting to see how Arsene mixes the midfield without Cesc and Ramsey.  I still like Tomas’ ability at finding the right lane for either Walcott, Arshavin, or whomever is up top for the Gunners.

FC Porto – Falcao – Colombian Favorite.

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Seriously would you mess with this guy?  War Wounds = CHECK.

Also love his honest and intelligent analysis of his clubs side.

“Arsenal are always going to be the favourites, I think, but at this stage of the Champions League the matches are really closely contested. We are conscious of the team we have and of the capabilities of our squad and we have a strong desire and conviction we can go through to the next round.”

Don’t you love when Euro’s spell there words with ou.  Colour my Favourite Harbour, fun stuff right.  Do I sound like enough of a pompous fella?  Back to the great game.

Falcao has been on a TEAR as of late.  In the end Arsenal need to stop Falcao, Varela and Hulk if they want to move on.

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Yeah I’m going to lean my wages towards the Dragons.  I can’t really see that defense holding off such a surging FC Porto side.  Porto realizes that there domestic play may drop them to Europa league next year.  Seeing a 2-1 victory for the visitors and so a 4-2 aggregate win into the quarter-finals.

Fiorentina  v  Bayern Munich

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The famous “Tower of Marathon” is one of the great draws of Fiorentina’s Aretmio Franchi Stadium.   The 70 plus year-old stadium will have a packed 48,000 (capacity is a hair shy of that at 47,282) Purple People.

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The Italians will be down on aggregate, but do have at least an away goal going for them.  It’ll be a huge day if Fiorentina can pull it off, the team hasn’t reach a European Quarter-final since 1970.   25 year old Riccardo Montolivo, midfield # 18, sums up the importance of the CL match.

“This is truly the game of our lives,  We will bring out all the anger that we have carried since the first leg at the Allianz Arena on February 17.  We want to bring all of that on the pitch and enter the history books, not only for us but for all our fans.”

The Germans do have the lead, but injury losses in their defense may be to much to overcome.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Italians strikers go at the Bayern Defense.  Fiorentina’s Serie A play is horrid and a huge victory over Munich and the whole club may have the necessary push to recover to respectable place.  In the end it’ll be a tough match with plenty of fouls.

Players to Watch:

Bayern Munich – Philipp Lahm – Germany’s Best Defender?

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Can’t not pick a fellow Scorpio.  He’s been Munich’s best and even the country’s best defender for the last few years.  His ability to flash up in offense won’t be as needed.  Instead with injuries to Martin Demichelis and his replacement, Diego Contento the Germans will need to have a controlling defensive heavy match.  Lahm has got to rally the troops.  And with word that 17-year-old David Alaba could start the Italians have to be excited.  Bayern Manager Louis Van Gaal does have an interesting choice for his line-up.

Fiorentina – Stevan Jovetić – The 20 year old wunderkind from Montenegro.

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Love the curls dog.  Hopefully you’ll be a bit more effective then your main sponsor.  In the end with goals needed, the midfield will have to step up if they want to make history.  The midfield has a already lost Gobbi because of his Red Card in the first-leg match.  Santana will be in the fold, but have to say I like the young kid’s chances to make a play.  He had an assist and three shots in the first meeting.   If he can help push the tempo and get a rocket off then Fiorentina just may pull off the miracle.

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I’ll go with the Italian Casey Jones up there.  FIORENTINA!!!  I just think that the Bayern defense can’t hold the Italians out of net for 90 minutes.  I do think Bayern will have to risk moving forward when Fiorentina gets an early goal.  The Germans have the talent to answer back, but with the purple nation behind them I think the 40 year old European drought will come to an end.  Fiorentina wins 3-1.

Remember 1:45 kick (central time) for us Americans.

Check out tomorrow for the previews for Wednesday’s fixtures – Beckham returns to Old Trafford and the French travel to Madrid.

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