UEFA Champions League Preview

UEFA Champions League Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 23, 2010
  • Chelsea, CSKA Moscow, Geoff Reid, Inter Milan, UEFA Champions League

By Geoff Reid

CSKA Moscow vs Sevilla from the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

This contest will be the first CSKA will play since December 8th when the Russians knocked off Turkish side Besiktas to qualify for the knockout phase of this seasons Champions League. Of course they have played in friendly matches leading up to this tie, but all of that does not matter now because this is the real thing. Sevilla boss Manuel Jimenez described this tie as a “double edged sword” because in one sense The Moscow club might be a little rustier then the Spaniards, however, they have had multiple time to prepare for this one compared to Sevilla have sometimes had two fixtures in a week so it could go either way.

CSKA Moscow don’t have any injury worries, the only concern is Alan Dzagoev (groin) who is listed as doubtful. In goal will be shot stopper Sergei Chephchugov. Milos Krasic and former Liverpool winger Mark Gonzalez are expected to start on the flanks while in the second holding role beside Evgeni Aldonin will be either Deividas Semberas or Pavel Mamaev. The attack should go through Japanese international attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda. Nika Piliev, who figured three times in the group stages, will not be in the match squad because he recently returned from a back strain.

Sevilla will be without main striker Luis Fabiano (chest), Diego Capel (ankle), Abdoulay Konko (adductor), and Sebastien Squillaci (ankle). The good news is former Tottenham and West Ham striker Freddie Kanoute will make the trip after overcoming a thigh problem. Club captain and former Valencia reserve Andres Palop will be in goal and anchor the back line, while in front of him will be Sergio Sanchez, Argentinean Federico Fazio and Serbian Ivica Dragutinovic and French defender and former one time Manchester United target Julien Escude. Look for Aldo Duscher, the once famous player to break David Beckham’s metatarsal before the 2002 world cup, should be the shield in front of the defense. The Sevilla midfield will go through Ivorian Didier Zokora and Jesus Navas. In the absence of Fabiano, Kanoute should lead the line by himself away from home in this first leg.

Prediction: 1-1. A cold night is expected in the Russian capital and as Sevilla manager Jimenez mentioned it will be a double edged sword with the Russians being more fresh after going through pre-season, but the Spaniards should be sharper in terms of matches played. What will be interesting here is who will have the legs toward the end of the match.


Inter Milan vs Chelsea from the San Siro, Milan

Arguably the tie of the round, and we could easily preview this for days, but for now we’ll stick to the talking points and the main one being Inter manager Jose Mourinho going against his old side from West London, while on the other side of the fence Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will be going against his former rivals from his years as manager of the other Milanese club, AC Milan. However no matter how much Mourinho loves having the spotlight all on himself, at the end of the day it’s the players who should get all the attention and just analyzing them alone is match-ups of the highest quality. Then there are many sub plots that just aren’t worth going into here such as John Terry, Ashley Cole and others.

Looking at the reigning Italian Champions first of all, Romanian Cristian Chivu (fractured skull) and Davide Santon (knee) are both definitely out, while Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar (bruises, facial lacerations) is listed as doubtful and will be a game time decision for Mourinho after the shot stopper was involved in a car crash Sunday. Serbian Dejan Stankovic and young prodigy Mario Balotelli are back from previous injury and are available for selection. What will be interesting is Inter have four main players one yellow card away from missing the return leg at Stamford Bridge: Lucio, Walter Samuel, Maicon and Javier Zanetti. Lucio and Samuel should be partners in the back with Maicon being arguably the best full back in the world in his position. If Cesar can’t go, expect Francesco Toldo is deputize in his place. Argentinean midfield dynamo Esteban Cambiasso will be partnered by Sulley Muntari and Tiago Motta. Up front should consist of Dutch winger Wesley Sneijder on one side, Italian wonderboy Balotelli on the other, and Cameroon hitman Samuel Eto’o.

For the blues Ashley Cole (ankle), Michael Essien (knee), Jose Bosingwa (knee), Yuri Zhirkov (calf), and Deco (knee) are all out for this first leg. Petr Cech will be in goal, while the favorite for left back candidate right now is Brazilian Juliano Belletti. Captain John Terry will marshall the back four and will be paired with Brazilian Alex and Branislav Ivanovic should get the nod at right back. The Chelsea midfield runs though England international Frank Lampard and he will have help from German national team captain Michael Ballack, and two from Florent Malouda, Salomon Kalou, or John Obi Mikel. Up front, Didier Drogba, who has been on a sensational run of goal scoring form, will be partnered by French striker Nicolas Anelka.

Prediction: The players in this tie have the potential to turn this one into a shootout, however, I have a sneaky feeling neither side will want to concede in the first leg, especially Inter who are at home. Look for Chelsea to hit Inter on the counter attack with Drogba’s pace and power to cause problems. Putting myself out on the line, I’m going to go for 0-0.

Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan each week. Feel free to leave him your thoughts/comments/predictions below.