Who will move on?

5 04 2010

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Can Arsenal beat the World’s Best?

Barcelona  v  Arsenal

Tomorrow night’s match is as much about who’s not playing in the game as who is playing.  Arsenal will be with out there star player Cesc Fabregas and veteran defender William Galllas.  Cesc misses out a chance to play at the Camp Nou where he honed his skills as a talented youth team player.  That’s not it for Arsenal as they will be with out one of there main goal-scoring threats, winger Andrey Arshavin is out two to three weeks.  Barca isn’t doing well either as the HEART of there defense, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are out due to cards.  Barca’s skillful striker Zlaten Ibrahimovic is also out with a torn calf muscle.  With a 2-2 aggregate, Arsenal will need to score in the massive Camp Nou.

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Players to Watch:

Barcelona: Rafael Márquez – The Mexican veteran will be counted on in the center of defense.

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Pep Guardiola will have a tough call on who will anchor the center of defense.  Alves is the only fully healthy regular starter he can count on.  He does have Abidal the French-man back, but he’s just coming back from injury.  Marquez looks like the big key to Barca’s chances of stopping Arsenal from shocking the Spanish @ home.  Marquez used to be a regular starter pick, but he’s been off and on the past few seasons.  He’s a really smart player and has a big enough body to make up for losing the massive Pique.  Expect Theo Walcott to be the most excited Arsenal player when he looks and sees who Barca will have in defense – his speed is KILLER!!

Arsenal – Fran Mérida – 20 year old Spaniard (Just turned 20) has a chance to impress on the biggest stage!

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Hey young-in those aren’t the right pants or shoes for the game.  Um Ok…so Arsenal is in trouble.  Haha, Fran is a talented little bugger that of course has garnered Cesc comparisons since he joined the Londoners.  He’ll most likely start on the bench, but like Theo Walcott last week should be an hour sub.  He’s a bit more of a left-side type midfielder and if he can work well with LB Gael Clichy then Barca will be IN TROUBLE!!  The kid has speed, great ball-controlling skills and with Gael behind him and possibly Theo in front we could see some wonderful football.

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Not really Barca in London, but at least in they got the UK part right.  Its going to be a crazy game and I so would love to see Arsenal shock the world.  But two away goals and still having Lionel Messi should give Barca all they need to move on to the Semi’s.  This one should be exciting and dirty all in the same token.  Expect 3 or 4 cards and 2 or 3 goals, give me Barca 3 Arsenal 1.

CSKA Moscow  v  Internazionale

The Russians played a hard fought battle with the Italians and deserved a 0-0 draw in the heart of Milan.  Instead they return home down 1-0 and hoping they can figure a way to score goals.  It’ll be tricky since Inter’s stout defense is always tough to net a goal against.   Moscow coach – Leonid Slutsky pretty much sums up the hard task at hand.

“It’s always difficult to cope with losing two first-team players [the suspended Aldonin and Krasić] but we have more than 11 people in our team. We have to make the changes to the lineup, but I really hope the quality of our game will not suffer. I’m not ready to tell you who will replace those players. I don’t think the artificial pitch at Luzhniki Stadium gives us any advantage.”

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Moscow should be a crazy scene tomorrow night.  Inter Milan have no major losses to there starting line-up and they look like the easiest to advance from the quarter-final match-ups.  The game comes down to can the Russians score and well so far they’ve not really shown that they can, especially without there leading goal-scorer.  Milos Krasic has netted four goals and he’ll be missed for the Moscow leg.

Players to Watch:

CSKA – Alan Dzagoev – 19 year old Russian has scored 3 goals and will be counted on heavily tomorrow night.

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Gosh its like the no drinking PLAYERS TO WATCH picks.   Guess who is the second leading champions league scorer for CSKA…um yeah.  Alan didn’t play in the first leg of the quarters, but i fully expect to him to see time.   He would fit in nicely right behind Necid and with Honda on the right and Mark Gonzalez on the left, giving CSKA a 3 headed attacking midfield and the lone top striker.  If they could go with that line-up Alan would have the play-makers around him to lead the way to the Semifinals.

Inter Milan – Thiago Motta – Brazilian Midfielder may need to step up if Wesley Sneijder’s ankle isn’t healthy (game-time decision).

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Without Wesley Inter’s attack is usually forced upon the strikers like Milito, unless Motta is on his game.  If the Brazilian finds his form the offense can be lethal, especially watch out for Etoo’s runs with Motta.  Inter will need to apply pressure to hold off any weird goals from the Russian.  If they score they almost certainly will move on to the Semis.

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Its hard to not pick the Italians in the one.  CSKA Moscow has done an amazing job getting this far, but Inter will move on.  The Moscow atmosphere will make it interesting, especially if the teams enter the second half scoreless.  A late winner from Milito should ice the game, but not before Moscow applies some thrilling moments.  Inter Milan 1 CSKA 0.  Should be a hard fought game, and don’t be shocked if Inter loses one of its main defenders to yellows for the Semi’s.  All three starting defenders (Walter Samuel, Maicon, and  Javier Zanetti) will miss the first leg of the semi’s with a yellow card.   Those three veterans being lost could be completely destructive to Jose Mourinho’s completing 2010 dominance (Serie A and CL trophies).

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