Typically, I like to write a post about the upcoming Champions League round before it actually happens. Clearly, that’s not the case this time. For those that are interested, I went 5-3 with my predictions from the round of sixteen. Certainly better than I did in my NCAA bracket. I picked Shakhtar Donetsk, AC Milan, Valencia, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea. My incorrect picks – Tottenham beat AC Milan, Schalke beat Valencia, and Inter Milan beat Bayern.
Since my slacker tendencies prevented me from getting this post up before the first leg of the quarterfinals, I’ve had to tweak what I was going to write. At this point, there is no reason to predict who is going to make it through to the semifinals, as three of the quarterfinals are well and truly over.
In what has to be considered a shock, Schalke destroyed Inter in Milan 5-2. Inter certainly were not helped by defender Cristian Chivu drawing a red card in the 62nd minute, but by that point the Nerazzurri were already down 4-2 to the Germans. The one highlight for the Italians was Dejan Stankovic’s wonder goal that started the scoring. Check it out.
Barcelona similarly dismantled Shakhtar, 5-1, at Camp Nou. Five different players scored goals for Barça – Andres Iniesta, Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Seydou Keita and Xavi. Barça are truly an incredible team to watch. They play some amazing soccer. With a 5-1 lead heading to the Ukraine, Barça have booked their spot in the semis.
The other Spanish team, Real Madrid, similarly dismantled their competition, winning 4-0 over Spurs. Things looked bad from the outset when Emmanuel Adebayor scored off a corner just 4 minutes into the game. Things went from bad to worse when Peter Crouch was sent off for his 2nd yellow card inside of 15 minutes. Spurs could never gain or hold possession and Real just kept putting more balls in the back of the net. Based on the way they played, Spurs would have lost even if Crouch has stayed on the field.
The only match that still has some drama going into the second leg is Manchester United vs. Chelsea. Man U secured a vital away goal at Stamford Bridge, beating the Blues 1-0. Chelsea enjoyed more of the possession and outshot Man U 21(7 on goal) – 8(2), but the were unable to find the leveler. Chelsea will be hard pressed to advance when they play the Red Devils at Old Trafford, especially since Man U have that away goal in their pocket.
With the second leg of the quarterfinals being played on Tuesday and Wednesday, look for a semifinal preview in the next week or two. Hopefully, the matches will be more competitive this time around. Happy soccer watching!