Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Champions League Review
The round of 16 in the Champions League tournament has ended. Lets see if my Champions League Preview was correct.
Chelsea vs. Juventus
Chelsea vs Juventus was a very entertaining series, one that saw the resurgence of Didier Drogba. In the first leg Chelsea won 1-0 behind a goal from Drogba, and another goal from Drogba in the second game sealed Chelsea's advancement into the next round.
More good news for Chelsea came out of this series as Michael Essien returned to the starting lineup in the second leg for the first time in 6 months. Essien wasted little time making an impact on the field and scored in the 45th minute.
My prediction was that Juventus would advance however Juventus was never really in this series. Chelsea advances 3-2 on aggregate. 0-1 on predictions.
Villarreal vs. Panathinaikos
Villarreal and the Greek champions Panathinaikos drew the first leg of the series 1-1 in Spain. Giuseppe Rossi was rewarded for a great game with a penalty kick goal which proved to be crucial for the mindset of the Spanish team.
In the second leg Villarreal and Panathinaikos traded goals in the second half but in the 70th minute a goal from Joseba Llorente gave Villarreal the 2-1 win and the 3-2 overall aggregate win.
I correctly predicted Villarreal would advance. 1-1 on predictions.
Bayern Munich vs. Sporting
This could be one of the most lopsided series in Champions League history. Munich exploded for 7 goals in the second leg of the series and won 12-1 on aggregate.
Sporting looked outmatched in every facet of the game which makes me wonder whether Munich is really this good, or was Sporting just that bad.
I correctly predicted that Bayern Munich would advance. 2-1 on predictions.
Real Madrid vs. Liverpool
Madrid weathered the storm in the first leg giving up an away goal to Liverpool's Yossi Benayoun in their 1-0 defeat but the in the second leg in England, the red storm proved to be too great.
The second leg of this series was characterized by the late and surprise addition of Fernando Torres into the starting lineup for Liverpool. As I predicted, if Torres and Gerrard could be healthy enough to be on the field together Liverpool would be dangerous, and they were winning the second leg 4-0 behind a goal from Torres and 2 from Gerrard.
Madrid never really threatened to score in either game, and if it wasn't for the great play of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Madrid could have lost by even more.
I correctly predicted that Liverpool would advance. 3-1 on predictions.
Atletico Madrid vs. Porto
FC Porto played to a 2-2 draw on the road and that score was all they needed to advance to the next round. The second leg of the series was 0-0 which meant that Porto advanced on the away goal rule.
As many of you know, I hate the away goal rule because I think it gives too much importance on the idea of playing away. In this series neither team won a game, however one team gets to advance. Don't like it.
Porto could be a team to look out for because the last time a team was almost not allowed to participate in the tournament (AC Milan) they went on to win the whole thing.
I thought that Atletico would advance. 3-2 on predictions.
Lyon vs. Barcelona
Lyon and Barcelona was one of the best matchups of this round. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in the first game, with a goal from Theirry Henry canceling out an amazing free kick from Juninho.
The second leg of the series was far from close. Theirry Henry picked up right where he left off in the first leg, scoring two goals within 2 minutes of each other. Lionel Messi followed that up with an amazing goal of his own, and Samuel Eto'o made it 4-0 Barcelona before Lyon knew what hit them.
This season there is no greater attacking trio than Henry, Messi and Eto'o with the 3 accounting for almost all of Barcelona's goals.
Lyon pulled a couple of goals back but Barcelona comfortably advanced 6-3 on aggregate.
I correctly predicted Barcelona would advance. 4-2 on predictions.
WATCH THIS BREATHTAKING GOAL FROM MESSI:
Arsenal vs. Roma
In my preview I said that this series would be a close one, and it was.
A Robin van Persie penalty kick was the only thing separating the two teams going into the second leg in Italy.
Arsenal playing without Fabregas, Arshavin, and Adebayor were held scoreless and lost 1-0 in the second leg after Juan scored for Roma.
Since both teams scored 1 goal each, and both goals were at home, the game went into extra time and ultimately penalty kicks.
In the penalty kick shootout it was also close, but Arsenal prevailed 7-6.
Perhaps in the next round when Fabregas, Arshavin and Adebayor all play Arsenal can have the firepower to score more than 1 goal in 2 games.
Here is the shootout:
I correctly predicted Arsenal would advance. 5-2 on predictions.
Manchester United vs. Inter Milan
This game was probably the game that most people were watching. The defending champions had to deal with the Italian giants and certainly had their biggest test in the tournament so far.
The first leg was actually pretty uneventful with both teams playing to a 0-0 draw in Italy.
This meant that a scoring draw would put Inter through to the next round.
In the second leg Manchester United dominated with goals from Vidic and Ronaldo giving them the 2-0 victory.
Much had been said of the Manchester defense before the game, and the defense really came through in the second leg holding Inter scoreless. Inter did get a bit unlucky with a Ibrahimovic header hitting the post and a shot by Adriano also hitting the post.
I correctly predicted Manchester United would advance meaning I went 6-2 overall on my predictions.
Going into the next round I think that Manchester United and Barcelona are still the 2 teams to look out for. Bayern Munich probably had the easiest opponent in this round which makes their 12-1 victory a bit skewed.
One team that really showed great form in this round was Liverpool. As long as this team stays healthy I believe that they can go all the way.
WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THIS ROUND? WHO WILL WIN IT ALL?