Friday, 17 December 2010

UEFA Champions League Draw

Bayern vs. Inter, Spurs vs. Milan, Barca vs. Arsenal, What an Interesting Round this shall be.

by Rhydon Atzenhoffer
December 17, 2010
The Knock Out Stage of the 2010-2011 UEFA Champions League Draw is over and the results are in. The most startling match up to come out of the draw hands down goes to defending Champions Inter Milan, under new boss Rafael Benitez, whom will face Bayern Munich in a rematch of last year’s final. The Italians will look to fend off Bastian Schweinsteiger and company as the Germany giants surely will be out for blood after last year’s scintillating final.

Another match up that will have all eyes watching is Pep Guardiola's Balugrana of Barcelona vs. Arsene Wenger's Arsenal. What looks to be a tie of epic proportions should the two side truly have a go at one another, which I cannot see Not happening, will most likely produce some of the fanciest footwork and passing artistry of the round. Cesc Fabregas, possibly the most coveted player by Barcelona, and his midfield partner Samir Nasri will be plying their trade against arguable the world’s best midfield duo in Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. The back-line of Arsenal is what I most likely foresee as the undoing of the London club and I expect Barca to send the Gunners packing.

The Special One's, Jose Mourinho's, Los Blancos of Real Madrid will take on Olympique Lyonnais of France. Although not league champions in several years the French Giants will be looking to upset the European Legends. Karem Benzema has finally started to stake a claim to his spot on the Real front line, and he will no doubt relish the reunion with his old club. The Spanish Giants look to continue their strong run of form and advance on to the next round.

Tottenham Hotspur were a revelation in the group stage with Gareth Bale helping to propel the Lily Whites forward. The London club may be new to the Champions League as of late but they made a statement early on with their dominance over Inter Milan and a Group A winning start to their UCL campaign. Harry Redknapp will be looking to continue the progress of his club and a victory over the Rossoneri in a two-legged tie would do even more to stamp Tottenham's ticket for success. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and company will be searching for a renewed vigor after a mediocre group showing that only produced at the height a draw against Real Madrid thanks to a now injured Filippo Inzaghi. It will be an interesting tie to say the least.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United take on French side Olympique Marseilles. Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola feared the French club for their ability to be physically dominant. However, I have never seen Sir Alex Ferguson to fear anyone or anything, and I fully expect the wiring ole Scot to take the fight to the boys from the Mediterranean coast. It will be a hard fought battle but I look to see the Red Devils in the next draw.

Chelsea take on FC Kobenhaven from Denmark. The Danish side is through to the Round of 16 in their clubs second time in the Champions League. Their first foray into Europe was the UCL in the 2006-2007 season where they did not get past the group stages. With what was deservedly a winning performance, resulting in only a draw, against Barcelona at home in the group stages, the Danes hope to garner some confidence, and the poor run of domestic form of the Blues lately may just give the Lions the little they need to pull off an upset.

The Final two match-ups seem to be the least popular but could turn out to be two of the more highly competitive ties. AS Roma will try to continue their march by taking a bite out of Ukrainian Champions FC Shakhtar Donetsk. If the Wolves can get an edge on the away leg they should be able to hold of the Ukrainians at the Olimpico. Ranieri will have to buckle down and pull his squad together because they are in desperate need of some more results as a struggling league campaign is turning around as they find themselves only four points away from second place in a tightly packed group at the top of the Serie A table.

Germany's FC Shalke 04 has been falling to shambles in the league but have been dominant in the Champions League topping Group B with only one loss. Making the trip to the Veltins Arena will be Spain’s Valencia. Despite the loss of both David Villa and David Silva Los Che have their stride at the perfect time as they are dancing around the UCL spots of La Liga in fifth place, and are in the last 16 of the Champions League with the other Spanish giants. The Shalke strike duo of former Real Madrid front men Raul Gonzalez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will look to use their knowledge of Valencia from the past in order to strengthen their clubs chances of advancement.

With the stage set for the next round it looks to be as exciting a knockout stage as ever. Their will be chants of glory, chants of rage, and tears of agony as the UEFA Champions League is now ready to return to action February 15, 2011.

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