Monday, March 05, 2007

Champions League Preview: First KO Round Leg 2

Valencia CF v. Inter Milan (2-2 agg)
Tuesday 2:30 pm ET, 9:00 pm ET (delayed) ESPN Deportes
It's all for Inter to do when they travel to Valencia on Tuesday. Currently the hottest team on the continent, the Nerazurri were held to a 2-2 draw at the San Siro in the first leg, and Roberto Mancini's men will have to focus on scoring to progress through. Valencia have only lost twice in 18 games at the Mestalla, including a 3-0 run in the CL group stage. Inter will also lack Patrick Vieira and Esteban Cambiasso, so this one should be interesting. []

Chelsea v. FC Porto (1-1 agg)
Tuesday 2:30 pm ET Setanta, 5:00 pm ET(delayed) ESPN Classic

It's not much of a surprise that the the expectation rests with players like Ricardo Quaresma if Porto want to progress to the next round when they meet their former coach Jose Mourinho and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. With an away goal in hand for the Blues, it's going to be a tough task for Jesualdo Ferreira and Superliga leaders Porto, despite the absence of Chelsea captain John Terry. [BBC Football]

Liverpool v. Barcelona (2-1 agg)
Tuesday 2:30 pm ET ESPN2, 7:00 pm ET (delayed) ESPN Deportes

The one everyone's going to have an eye on is the matchup between Liverpool and Barcelona. Both teams suffered demoralising losses this weekend, Liverpool to a late John O'Shea winner against league leaders Manchester United, and Barcelona 2-1 to Sevilla to lose their lead in La Liga. With two valuable away goals, Liverpool could lose 1-0 and still advance, but the return of Samuel Eto'o and inclusion of Lionel Messi could give the Reds some problems. If there's any team in Europe that can come back to advance, it's gotta be Barcelona. [RTE]

Olympique Lyon v. AS Roma (0-0 agg)
Tuesday 5:00 pm ET (delayed) Setanta

Ligue 1 monopolists Lyon will host Roma on Tuesday, after a 0-0 draw in Italy in the first leg. Although Roma has the weapons to score a crucial away goal in France, the numbers seem to be on the French champions' side. Lyon are going for their fourth straight CL quarterfinal, and have only conceded three goals in seven CL matches this year. Free-kick specialist Juninho makes a return to the side after being rested over the weekend to open their lead in Ligue 1 to 13 points. This has been the thorn in Lyon's side since their dominance of France, and don't count out Roma's hunger, since their pursuit of a Serie A title died once Inter began their winning ways. [SuperSoccer, Eurosport]

Arsenal v. PSV Eindhoven (0-1 agg)
Wednesday 2:30 pm ET Setanta, 4:45 pm ET ESPN Deportes
A 2-1 victory could see Arsenal through to the next round of the Champions League on away goals, and that may be wishful thinking. No matter what, Arsene Wenger likes the progress of his young team, who need to take advantage of potential absences from the PSV squad in Eindhoven. [, UEFA]

Manchester United v. LOSC Lille (1-1 agg)
Wednesday 2:30 pm ET ESPN2, 7:00 pm ET (delayed) ESPN Deportes

Things really can't be looking any better than they currently do for Manchester United. The Red's grasp of first place in the EPL has bored Sir Alex enough to begin a mini-row with the Portugeezer, telling him to "button his lip". With the way Fergie's squad is playing, it's hard to see the Red Devils not going through, despite Fergie's doubt over Wayne Rooney for Wednesday's clash. Lille will most likely miss playmaker Mathieu Bodmer, but should have the Ivorian midfielder Abdul Kader Keita in the lineup. United's defensive efficiency on Saturday against Liverpool shows how well they can adapt in controlling midfield and shutting off runs behind the fullbacks, and 0-0 draw could see them through to the next stage. [CNN, ESPN Soccernet]

Bayern Munich v. Real Madrid (2-3 agg)
Wednesday 2:30 pm ET ESPN Deportes, 5:00 pm ET (delayed) ESPN Classic

Things aren't looking good for Fabio Capello's squad (what else is new) going into their clash with equally-disappointing Bayern Munich. Both David Beckham and Jose Antonio Reyes will not be available for Wednesday's return match in Munich, and will most likely be out for a month. Although los Merengues hold a 3-2 aggregate lead, the two away goals given up to Bayern in the first match are concerning, and could see the once-dominant side knocked out yet again from the European competition. [Guardian]

AC Milan v. Celtic (0-0 agg)
Wednesday 2:45 pm ET Setanta PPV

Celtic travel to meet Milan at the San Siro on Wednesday, and although Milan look the favorites, the Scottish club should have a strong fan presence, perhaps too strong. With a 0-0 aggregate scoreline, it isn't nearly as wide open as you may think, but the phrase "anything can happen in football" seems fitting for this matchup. Sure history isn't necessarily on Scottish clubs' sides, but it's worth a look, if just for the possibility of a Shunsuke Nakamura free kick and something special from Kenny Miller. [BBC Football, Scotsman, Sporting Life]


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