Now it gets good. You know what I am talking about…….the Champions League. Make sure you check out the games on ESPN2 and ESPNDeportes this Tuesday and Wednesday.
For me the best soccer in the world is played in this league and I am always particularly intrigued by the different playing styles that crash head on. So here are some initial thoughts off the top of my head:
Liverpool vs Inter:
Welcome to Anfield the home of famed Liverpool. Lets not forget that Liverpool come off being knocked out by Barnsley a their famed home stadium this past weekend. How do they react with pressure on the squad and the manager Rafa Benitez. A win over Inter and Benitez will stave off the media pressure for a moment.
Then again this could be the best thing for them. Expect them to be at their scratching and clawing best and as always will have to look for an edge from Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
For Roberto Mancini and Inter Milan all eyes will be on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Can he produce an away goal?
Arsenal vs. AC Milan
Similiar conditions for Arsenal who were thrashed by Manchester United 4-0 in the FA Cup. The perfect game to right the ship at the Emirates. AC Milan are now competing in the “Serie A” for a place in Europe and have moved up the table. Return from injury could come in the form of Kaka and Pato two amazingly talented Brazilians. Yet a huge issue remains in goal. Number one Zeljko Kalac has a dislocated finger. Dida who lost the starting job to Kalac has an injured back. Do they get fit or does Carlo Ancelotti have to use number three goalkeeper Valerio Fiori? Fiori has not played since the 2003-2004 season. First leg goalkeeping away from home is an issue?
Roma vs. Real Madrid
Another juicy encounter with both teams coming off losses in their domestic league play. Roma was beaten by Juventus and Real Madrid after taking a 1-0 lead lost at Betis 2-1.
Roma have lost their last three at the Olympic Stadium in Rome to Real Madrid.
Celtic vs. Barcelona
Celtic Park will be simmering with the arrival of Barcelona in Glasgow.
Barcelona may get back Samuel Ett’o from injury he incurred in African Nations Cup against Egypt. Celtic will fight to the death in front of their home fans and will make it uncomfortable for Barcelona who pulled off a six point swing in La Liga play with a 2-1 win over Zaragoza. Time for Ronaldinho to shine.
Lyon vs. Manchester United
Lyon may not make many excited but the game has United manager Alex Ferguson concerned enough to get a scouting report from former Rangers manager Walter Smith.
After United’s thrashing of Arsenal in the FA Cup I see them postion themselves for the return leg at Old Trafford fine in this one.
Schalke vs Porto
Germans have the edge at home.
Fenerbache vs Sevilla
Spaniards will not find it easy in Turkey.
Olympiakos vs Chelsea
Blues on the road in Athens which is not the easiest place to play.
Best hope for a piece of hardware for Chelsea.
Have your say on the Champions League and don’t forget tomorrow night to join me on the radio at 7pm on 790TheSports Animal for more Champions League talk.