Champions League draw - First Round
AS Roma v Shakhtar
AC Milan v Tottenham Hotspur
Lyon v Real
Arsenal managed to hold their nerve against Sparta Praha to finish second, while FCB got a nice result on Match Day 5 versus Panathinaikos FC to ensure qualification.
There are two factors to this tie: 1) Will FCB still be in El Clasico form? If so, 2) what did Arsenal learn from last year, won’t matter. Let’s say that the Blaugrana are only mortal. What will the Professor do to keep them getting run off the park? Play a deeper line? Play more defensive minded outside mids to help double team and track the Barca attack? Remember, the only reason they were in the tie last year is because they grabbed 2 late goals at the Emirates in the first leg, before getting absolutely destroyed at the Nou Camp.
Prediction: A tighter series but having the same result. A small part of me actually fancies Arsenal if they can keep at a clean sheet at the Emirates.
Lyon v Real
Where to start on this match up? Revenge? Pressure? Recent History?
Last year a thunderous strike from Makoun gave
Make no doubt about it. This is the trophy Jose was hired to win. A failure in this competition and another second place finish in La Liga will take some gloss off the Special One and will make for an interesting summer. As for
Prediction: As long as Real Madrid wear their finishing boots, they should make easy work of this tie, possibly winning 1-0 away and 2-0 at home.
Schalke are slowly coming around after losing their first four Bundesliga matches and first Champions League match. They are now up to mid-table and qualified as group winners with a match to spare, and the Royal Blues will be counting on veterans Raul and Huntelaar and German national keeper Neuer.
I see very few goals in this match, only because I am not convinced by Soldado and Aduriz of Valencia. The Spanish contenders will hold on to the ball but don’t see them doing enough to really create havoc. If they can get out of the Mestalla with a scoreless draw or 1-0 victory, I see them progressing. An away goal and they are toast.
So I see at least two of the Spanish contingent making it through. I'm sure UEFA is already rigging the draw to separate FCB and Real Madrid to create the anticipation of a final between Spanish giants.