December 17, 2004

Champions League draw.: This morning, the draw was made for the final 16 teams, and there are some really interesting first-round matchups - Chelsea v Barcelona, Juventus v Real Madrid, AC Milan v Manchester United, Arsenal v Bayern Munich - any one of these could have been the final. Are we destined for a final like last year with two smaller teams, or will some giants make it through to the end?

posted by blarp to soccer at 09:10 AM - 22 comments

Full Champions League draw: Real Madrid v Juventus FC Porto v Inter Milan Barcelona v Chelsea Werder Bremen v Lyon Liverpool v Bayer Leverkusen PSV v Monaco Manchester United v AC Milan Bayern Munich v Arsenal First team listed plays home on Feb 22/23, second team plays home on March 8/9. In addition to some huge matchups, one interesting story will be how Jens Lehmann and Oliver Kahn play against each other in the Arsenal-Bayern Munich games, especially since Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann has told them that they currently have an equal chance of playing in World Cup 2006.

posted by blarp at 09:16 AM on December 17, 2004

Yeah, the Jens/Oliver side story does makes things interesting, but I doubt it will be an issue by 2006 as it looks like Jens is playing himself out of Arsenal's starting XI.

posted by scully at 10:19 AM on December 17, 2004

Doesn't Soccer belong on "HobbyFilter" rather than SportsFilter?

posted by mayerkyl at 11:16 AM on December 17, 2004

Look for Juventus to kick Real Madrid's ass all over the pitch. Real is playing terribly this season, despite (or perhaps because of) all of the aging, high priced superstars. Really, one of the most poorly constructed "dream teams" of all time. Raul and Roberto Carlos look like they are pushing 40 years old lately and their defense, as always, sucks. Barcelona, on the other hand, is simply a joy to watch this year and I would go out on a limb to say that Ronaldihno is the best player in the Spanish league right now and perhaps in all of Europe. Easily the funnest to watch play. The problem is that they are thin after a string of injuries which is always a factor when adding Champion's Legue play to regular league play. Chelsea is England's answer to Real Madrid: lots of money and stars; it should make for a great matchup... The Man U AC Milan matchup should be a great show as well... Most of these matchups sound like finals, don't they?

posted by sic at 12:01 PM on December 17, 2004

OK, I'll start off the predictingg (guaranteed to be wrong or your money back):

  • Real Madrid v Juventus - Juventus. This matchup features a lot of past hardware, but Real is really really in disarray. Look for further shakeups in the next transfer season. (Are there any galacticos left for them to buy?)
  • FC Porto v Inter Milan - This is a tough one to call for me. I suppose I'll go with the longer history - Inter. Barcelona v Chelsea - Jose got his wish indeed. I agree with sic's assessment, but I've got to make a pick - Barcelona.
  • Werder Bremen v Lyon - Werder Bremen
  • Liverpool v Bayer Leverkusen - Landon Donovan should have his first chance at the Champion's league, but Liverpool will have Baros back - Liverpool.
  • PSV v Monaco - The minnow match up if there is such a thing. After seeing PSV match up against Arsenal in the group stage, I'd have to give them the advantage.
  • Manchester United v AC Milan - Antother hard one to call here, but I'll go with Milan's defense, even though RVN has been monstrous in the competition.
  • Bayern Munich v Arsenal - Do I go with my heart or my head? Watch for both keepers to be very motivated, since they pretty much hate each other (assuming Lehmann gets his spot back). Heart - Arsenal.

posted by trox at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2004

My uneducated predictions: Real Madrid v Juventus - I'll take Juventus because I've used them as my team in FIFA video games. FC Porto v Inter Milan - PORTO! PORTO! PORTO! No doubt. Barcelona v Chelsea - Barcelona... for no reason whatsoever. Werder Bremen v Lyon - Werder Bremen? Word! Liverpool v Bayer Leverkusen - Liverpool, though I hope Donovan shows well if he plays. PSV v Monaco - Who? Really? Okay, I'll take PSV because trox did. Manchester United v AC Milan - Man U. even though I hate them because everyone at SpoFi told me to hate them. Nice work, folks. Bayern Munich v Arsenal - Arsenal

posted by 86 at 12:31 PM on December 17, 2004

Man U. even though I hate them because everyone at SpoFi told me to hate them. Nice work, folks. What else could bring Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Liverpool, and WBA fans together? (Hope I didn't leave anyone out!) But seriously, any Chelsea, Everton, or Newcastle (or other) supporters lurking about these parts?

posted by trox at 01:49 PM on December 17, 2004

Chelsea supporter here. Not too psyched about having to face Barcelona, though. And yeah, I hate ManU too. Poo on them.

posted by blarp at 02:08 PM on December 17, 2004

trox, I was fortunate to pick Everton as my favorite club almost two years ago. I took a lot of crap for it, but look at them now.

posted by 86 at 02:22 PM on December 17, 2004

- Liverpool v Bayer Leverkusen - Liverpool, but it breaks my heart that Donovan, if he plays which I think likely, is in the other shirt. Also, some spending in January is likely for the Reds and may give a bit more depth to make this more winnable. - Real Madrid v Juventus - Juventus if they remain healthy upfront but if Jonathon Woodgate is healthy and in form by then, maybe not. I would love to see Michael Owen get some net. - Porto v Inter Milan - I'm leaning towards Porto but wonder if the win over Chelsea was all that real. Also note that Inter has yet to lose in Serie A even if most results have been draws and so this might end up decided on away goals or PKs - Barcelona v Chelsea - Barcelona has one key advantage: Chelsea has a much busier schedule between now and late February and one or two key injuries, especially a Lampard or Terry, could be the difference while Barca has time for healing. Also, Barca will make a deal or three in the transfer window while Mourinho has said he'll stand pat until Summer. - Werder Bremen v Lyon - Both are quality sides but Lyon is running away from the table in France while Bremen have drifted down a few spots from last season's championship. I also think Bremen will have a tougher time playing at Lyon than vice versa. So Lyon on goal differential. - PSV v Monaco - PSV because they have my second favorite American player racing up the left wing, making himself a worthy successor to Robben. And because I don't care for the Monaco squad at all. - Manchester United v AC Milan - Milan will have a surprisingly easy time and possibly even win both matches. Although Ronaldhino is my choice as best in Europe right now, Shevchenko is not far behind and will give the ManU backline more than they can handle; Rio is in great form but Silvestre is not the answer next to him and I think neither Carrol nor Howard (sadly) are capable of making up for this. - Bayern Munich v Arsenal - Munich, which will have the advantage of a six week break with still three or four matches to be back on pace, should take this in a squeaker. Though I'm not saying Arsenal can't win the big ones in Europe. Also, while Jens/Ollie sounds good on paper, right now Almunia is in goal for the Gunners and will need to make quite a few whoppers to let Lehmann back into the XI. Oh and mayerkyl, why don't you read a bit before putting your foot in your mouth? We have probably as many soccer threads here as any single American sport except maybe baseball and we have three different soccer fantasy leagues going right now. Try and contribute a little something, like one actual FPP, before you slag anyone else's posting.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:14 PM on December 17, 2004

"right now Almunia is in goal for the Gunners and will need to make quite a few whoppers to let Lehmann back into the XI". What do you mean needs to? Hasn't he made enough already? I seriously cannot fathom why he's in the team. Lehmann isn't all that good, but Alumnia is one of the dodgiest keepers I've ever seen. Wenger has lost it. And back on topic: I think Barca are good for this year's CL. As mentioned above, Ronaldinho is a phenomenon and a joy to watch. I don't watch much Italian, Portuguese or German football, so I can't comment on their teams, but as for the English sides... Man U's defence will let them down, Liverpool (Gerrard aside) simply don't have enough quality, Arsenal are on a bad run and are always rubbish in Europe, and Chelsea... well, they're playing Barcelona.

posted by afx237vi at 05:40 PM on December 17, 2004

Almunia has had what, four games in the net since replacing Lehmann, doesn't he get a bit more than that to prove himself?

posted by billsaysthis at 06:38 PM on December 17, 2004

Put it this way Bill, if I was, by some miracle, picked to play in goal for Arsenal, do you think I'd get a second game? Tough draw for the Spanish sides. Could we have a quarter finals with no Spanish sides left? I would make both Barca and Real underdogs in their ties. For me, the interesting tie is Man Utd v Milan. Man Utd are picking up in the league, but Milan are currently favourites to win the trophy. Oh, and mayerky: piss off back to Fark, or wherever you dragged yourself in from.

posted by salmacis at 07:19 AM on December 18, 2004

Yeah Alumnia has only had four games, but apart from the Chelsea game, he's made howling errors in all of them. Why was Lehmann even dropped in the first place? He has the occasional rush of blood to the head, but he did play in 49 of Arsenal's 50-game unbeaten run so he can't be that bad. He hadn't made any recent errors that would justify his deselection either. I would have understood if Wenger had found a better replacement, but quite obviously he hasn't. I'm no Arsenal fan, nor an admirer of Jens Lehmann, but the goalkeeping situation there truly puzzles me.

posted by afx237vi at 08:04 AM on December 18, 2004

I would also point out that the English clubs have to play four games over eight or nine days next week (12/26, 12/28 or 29, 1/1, 1/3 or 4) and this might allow Wenger to give both keepers playing time before making a more definitive choice for the second half of the season or even going out into the market for someone new.

posted by billsaysthis at 01:10 PM on December 18, 2004

What the hell, I'll stick my neck out and make some predictions: Real Madrid v Juventus: I'll take Juventus FC Porto v Inter Milan: FC Porto Barcelona v Chelsea: Chelsea, because I think it's their year Werder Bremen v Lyon: Werder Bremen Liverpool v Bayer Leverkusen: Liverpool PSV v Monaco: PSV Manchester United v AC Milan: Man United, because I see them coming on as of late Bayern Munich v Arsenal: Arsenal squeaks by into the next round.

posted by jasonbondshow at 10:53 PM on December 18, 2004

Manchester United v AC Milan: Man United, because I see them coming on as of late Scholes sure is, had two great goals yesterday and was pretty much responsible for the own goal as well.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:54 AM on December 19, 2004

Porto winning against Inter?!?! Arsenal making it in Europe!?! Chelsea winning against Barcelona?? jasonbondshow...what position are you in, in the Fantasy League?

posted by StarFucker at 01:31 AM on December 20, 2004

Re Almunia again... fair play to him, he had a good game against Portsmouth yesterday and made some good stops. Arsenal, as a whole, though, were quite lacklustre and lucky to scrape the win. Henry and Pires were virtual spectators for the entire match. Times are not good for the Gunners.

posted by afx237vi at 07:45 AM on December 20, 2004

AFX, I will agree they've been in a funk the last two months (essentially since ManU broke the streak) and so one wonders if Wenger will look for someone to shake the squad up during the Transfer Window.

posted by billsaysthis at 02:51 PM on December 20, 2004

I was a bit skeptical of Almunia in goal over Lehmann (who still takes far too many risks for my liking), but his performance in yesterdays match eased my mind a bit. Re Arsenal's recent form: they are definitely down a bit right now, but every team will go through over the course of the season. The main thing is they seem to be hanging around and not losing too much ground. I hoped that thumping Rosenbourg would wake them up a bit, and both sides were very good in the Chelsea match. Yesterday, they clawed out a road win (1 Nil to the Arsenal) and got the necessary points. Am I a little concerned? Yes. Am I ready to panic? Not yet.

posted by trox at 04:03 PM on December 20, 2004

Are you Donald Rumsfeld? Yes...

posted by StarFucker at 09:39 PM on December 20, 2004

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