Elimination time part 2 of 4

10 03 2010

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David finally comes home.

Manchester United  v  AC Milan

The talk of this round of elimination games is all about Becks return to Old Trafford.   The exciting scene is one for the ages and not to mention the game could be a real barn-burner.

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Ticket prices for this game must be out of this world.   Though 3-2 isn’t a horrible loss in most cases for AC Milan, having it happen at the San Siro makes there hopes of moving on a bit more difficult.  Three away goals guarantees that AC Milan need to at least score two goals.  So Milan will hope Becks, Ronny, and old-man Pirlo will be on there A-games.   Getting back to David, tonight’s match-up will be his first time back since 2003.  His moves to Spain, America and now Italy all pale in comparison to his memorable dozen years wearing the Red and White.   The good news is both squads will have there full line-ups, now that Wayne Rooney is a confirmed starter after his recent knee issues.  Sir Alex Ferguson sums up Wayne’s importance to his club.   “In the form he’s in at the moment, he’s a threat to any team.”

After the 5 goal performance by an injury filled Arsenal club last night i’m sure Man United is looking to put on a show.

Now Manchester United does have some key injuries including: Anderson, Michael Owen, Ryan Giggs and a suspended Michael Carrick.  The red devils will have some intriguing tweaks to the line-up, but expect them to still be prepared for the return of there beloved one.

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Aww they look so chummy.  Sir Alex has the right conclusion about how big an impact David can actually have on the game.

“I am finding it difficult to pick their team but I don’t know whether Beckham will start,” said Ferguson.

“I have not got that down in my conclusions about their team.

“He has not started a game since the first leg, so it is difficult to say what impact he will have on the game.

“But he will be there and the one thing you have to be aware of is his delivery of the ball, which is fantastic.

“That is the threat. There are a lot of threats in their team of course, but we are well aware of David’s.”

Players to Watch:

Manchester United – Antonio Valencia – Ecuadorian kid could be a surprise for Milan.

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Nice shirt Sir Alex.  So I know all of you are like what no shout out to old man Paul Scholes or the new “David Beckham” Darren Fletcher.  Well Valencia in a 25 minute performance against Milan at the San Siro still got an assist.  So whether the kid is on the bench again or more likely (with Carrick’s suspension) a shocking start on the wing, Valencia looks like a quality choice for Sir Alex.  Valencia has been much more impressive then lets say Anderson or even Nani.  The South American is very much in a similar mold to those “high dollar” choices.  He could easily turn into another superstar find for the most famous soccer team in the world.

AC Milan – Massimo Ambrosini – The Italian Vet will need to push the tempo!!

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Most of the talk about Milan drifts towards Ronny’s dazzling moves, Becks amazing right leg, Pirlo’s pinpoint passes, Pato’s young flair, or even Clarence Seedorf’s sneaky style.  Massimo Ambrosini has been a staple of the Red and Black for a while and his quiet performances mask a tactically sound play-maker.  He will be “out-shined” by his slew of talented teammates, but Ambrosini gives you 90 minutes of heart, solid vision and a surprisingly lethal headers.  Don’t be shocked when he comes flying in on a corner and equalizes the aggregate.  Also he’s a feisty defender and always seems to cause fits for whomever he’s matched up against in the midfield.

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Can’t argue with the Red Army.  Manchester United’s three away goals (thanks Rooney for being a bad ass) will be to much for Milan to overcome.  I see a hard fought 2-1 victory for MU.

Real Madrid  v  Lyon 

If David Beckham wasn’t traveling to Old Trafford this game would get a lot more pub.   The French have the 1 goal lead on aggregate, but this game will be a crazy goal-scoring frenzy.  All that money Real spent for Ronaldo, Kaka, and Lyon’s former wunder kid Karim Benzema will finally be showcased on the Champions League level.  I really expected the French to show up more then they did in the first leg.  In the end one home goal is nothing to be fearful of.  Real Madrid also understand a loss at this stage would be UN-Acceptable!!

“Wednesday’s match is do-or-die,” said Cristiano Ronaldo.

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When you get to the details, Madrid has some pretty big injury/suspension issues.  The before-mentioned Benzema is out and so is stalwart defenders Pepe, Marcelo and former standout Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso.   Through all that the Madrid side should still have the offensive fire power to put some goals in the back of the net.   Madrid’s young defensive stand-out Sergio Ramos sums up Xabi’s impact will be missed.  “When a player like Xabi Alonso plays so frequently, he can be missed,” Ramos added. “He is our brain because he moves the team in the midfield. But we have a deep squad.”

I think Lyon’s captain Cris has put it nicely.  “It’s all about believing.”   Indeed and with the injury loss to young defender Michel Bastos could be devastating, but then again he saw limited action in the first match.  In the end Sidney Govou, Jeremy Toulalan, Jean Makoun and GK Hugo Lloris need to be on there A-game if they are to pull off the big upset in Madrid.

Players to Watch:

Real Madrid – Gonzalo Higuaín – 22 year old Argentina superstar has started to blossom @ the Bernabeu

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To kiss the French goodnight the younger striker will need to first get the ball in the back of the net.  Thank you UEFA.com for this bit of useful trivia.   Of the 31 previous occasions Madrid have gone into a home UEFA competition second leg trailing, they have progressed 20 times.  65% aint to bad.  Its funny because Gonzalo only played 64 minutes in the first leg, and he’ll need to stay on the pitch a bit longer if Madrid are to pull this off.   To make it 21 out of 32 Gonzalo needs to find the open lane so play-makers like Kaka and Ronaldo can find him.    He’s really talented and a fun striker to watch.  World Cup 2010 could be a great stage to see Gonzalo turn into one of the world’s best.  He could start that rise with a big performance tonight.

Lyon – Jean II Makoun – Cameroon’s Midfield stud has the lone goal for both teams.

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Another one of those Lille players that Lyon has picked up in the last few years.  He has turned into a strong attacking mid for the French giants and the World Cup will also be a chance for him to shine.  His pace and ability are controlled by his mindset.  He’s gone into a hole in some games and if that happens Lyon is in for a LONG night.  But I have a sneaky filling he’ll net one more in Madrid.  That foot of his is extremely lethal from distance and with Sidney Govou’s having great attack runs this duo could shock the Spaniards.

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Don’t waste your time drooling over Ronaldo.  Check out the packed house behind him.  That is the reason why i’m leaning towards the Spanish to pull back a few goals and win.  A 3 – 1 score with a late game winner from Gonzalo would be a nice topper to the evening.  The French are a solid unit, but to walk into the Bernabeu is a tough task on its own, to try and fulfill a sweep of mighty Madrid is entirely to much.  Expect it to be crazy in the Spanish capital and to see there men through to the quarters.

Tune in tomorrow for our second look at the DALLAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, this time the 2008 showcase.

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