Thursday, April 19, 2012

Half Time in the Champions League

Two semi finals, two home wins and two finely balanced ties. The majority still see both the losing Spanish teams as favourites - and in the case of Barcelona rightly so - but UEFA will be expecting some bumper television audiences for the return fixtures next week.

First to Tuesday's action and an entertaining and technically excellent  - if not spectacular - game at the Allianz Arena saw Mario Gomez give Bayern a slender 2-1 lead with almost the last kick of the game. The teams looked fairly evenly matched and Real will be hoping to press home advantage next week whilst Bayern will know an away goal will put them in pole position.

For Mourinho it was a case of what could have been having got a priceless away goal and for having controlled Bayern's attacking forays for much of the second half. The slip at the end may prove costly and this blog will take Bayern to progress to the final on their own patch.

Real will be treading a disciplinary tight rope next week with a whole host of their midfield and defensive players picking up yellow cards. With the attacking verve of Robben and Ribery, Bayern will fancy themselves on the break.

Chelsea defied all predictions and even logic to muster a 1-0 home win against the hugely lauded Barca aristocrats. For Chelsea it was as good as they could have hoped for but at the same time one feels the return fixture will hold little fear for Barcelona either. Chelsea however seem to have benefited from little or no expectation after their travails in the league but one has to ask whether the 'old guard' can return to the well once more next week.

Both teams have huge 'must win' league fixtures this weekend, Barca have 'El Classico' and Chelsea face a very tough trip to the Emirates against a rejuvenated Arsenal.
Much for Chelsea will ride on how successfully Di Matteo rotates his players which he has not done particularly well against either Wigan or Fulham. The established Chelsea players seem to have an appetite for the big match however and they will go to the Nou Camp next week full of confidence of getting the result they require.

Barcelona will simply carry on doing what they do best and it is unlikely for Messi to have two Champions League off nights in a row. The team however does look less than complete lacking a centre forward and enough cover at centre back. That being said they should be able to qualify and try to be the first team in the modern era to retain Europe's premier competition - No Nonsense.