Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Champions League - Round Two

The group stages of the Champions League can prove a somewhat sterile affair but there are some attractive ties this week starting with Manchester City's visit to Bayern. It is a clash of the established European footballing aristocracy against the 'crass' new money from the Etihad Stadium. It is much the same in the rest of life where old money oft looks down on the new in the misguided belief that their little pieces of paper are worth more than those of the new kids in town.

For City it is the acid test having started with a slightly disappointing home draw with Napoli. Bayern are the type of club who will positively bristle at the arrival of City in their playground and Ribery and the like will be no doubt sent out there to hammer a message home.

For Mancini who has been so bold this season, it will be interesting to see which tactics he employs faced with such a potentially daunting tie. He has spoken about winning in Munchen and if he is to do so then he has to consider that City's success so far this season has come from attacking fluency and not from the ponderous defence minded performances of last year, his conundrum at least is clear.

Internazionale travel to Moscow to meet CSKA in a tie that they really need to win after their shock home defeat in the opening round to Trabzonspor. With a double header against French Champions Lille to come, they are much in need of three points and some respite for their beleaguered team.

ManYoo face what should be a straightforward home tie to Basel as they continue their progress through the easiest of the League groups. Two of the most famous names in European football meet at the Bernabaeu where Real Madrid host Ajax although the reality nowadays is that there should be only winner.

The tie of the round on Wednesday sees Chelsea face a very tricky away tie with at the always hostile Mestalla stadium. For Juan Mata it is a swift homecoming and Fernando Torres will also be wishing to put in a vibrant performance back on Spanish soil. A point however would be seen as a good result having already secured all three against Leverkeusen.

Arsenal will hope to make the most of Marseille and Dortmund taking points off each other by dispatching Olympiakos at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger could at the same time no doubt offer a cheap loan to the visitors to alleviate their debt issues as he clearly doesn't like to spend any of Arsenal's money himself.

In Group H, AC Milan and Barcelona will both be hoping to secure wins as they battle to finish first in a group that may come down to goal difference to separate the two, the possibility of Barcelona finishing second in the group would really set the cat amongst the pigeons despite UEFA's best laid seeding plans - No Nonsense.