UEFA Champions League Preview

UEFA Champions League Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 16, 2010
  • Chelsea, CSKA Moscow, Geoff Reid, Inter Milan, UEFA Champions League

By Geoff Reid

Sevilla vs CSKA Moscow From The Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, Seville (1-1 on agg.)

In what was a very interesting first leg matchup, a 1-1 draw between the sides in the Russian capital was a fair result. A fortnight ago, the Russians were still in pre-season on winter break and having been well rested as a result, we weren’t sure what kind of performance they would entail. As it turns out, Leonid Slutsky’s lads played very well although a little rust showed towards the end. On the other side of the coin, Sevilla got the result they very much would have taken before kick off having got the away goal in an intimidating setting. This does not mean the tie is practically over, far from it as the Russian clubs have performed very well in European competition and winning the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) proves that.

Sevilla only have Abdoulay Konko (adductor) completely ruled out whole Alvaro Negredo (leg) is listed as doubtful after picking up an injury on the weekend against Deportivo La Coruna. Andres Palop will start in goal for the Spanish club, with a back line that will include former Ajax defender Julien Escude and Federico Fazio. The midfield will have a base of Didier Zokora, Renato and Argentine destroyer Aldo Duscher, while up front a pairing of Fredric Kanoute and Jesus Navas. Sevilla have always performed well at home, especially in Europe playing open, attractive football so look for the Spanish club to attack right from the opening whistle.

For CSKA Mosow, Uros Cosic (left leg ligaments) and Kiril Nababkin (ankle) are the only players ruled out and nobody else is doubtful. The Russians will start with Igor Akinfeev in goal once again, with the defense achored by Deididas Semberas and Sergei Ignashevich. The goal scorer from the first leg Mark Gonzalez will be used as the main person to supply the crosses into the front men, while Milos Krasic will be responsible for doing the dirty work to free up space for the attackers. Up front, young Russian Tomas Necid should get the start once again.

Prediction: Sevilla 2-0 CSKA Moscow. The Spanish club at home are along with Lyon, the dark horses in this tournament and should be able to despatch the club from the Russian capital, but it should be a very entertaining game.

Chelsea vs Inter Milan From Stamford Bridge, London (Inter leads 2-1 on agg.)

Arguably the tie of the round has all the special ingredients to make this second leg at the Bridge a classic. The main headline will of course be the return of the so called “Special One” Jose Mourinho to west London. With a lot of his former players still performing for Chelsea at a very high level, and a warm welcome expected it should an emotional night for the portuguese manager. Putting all the Mourinho nonsense aside, just looking at the match-ups on the pitch is mouth watering and any football fan would easily agree.

Chelsea are ridden with injuries currently with Ashley Cole (ankle), Michael Essien (knee), Jose Bosingwa (knee), Deco (knee), Hilario (groin) and Petr Cech (calf) are all ruled out. With the top two goalkeepers out injured, third choice Ross Turnball will get the nod from Carlo Anchelotti. The back line will as ever be anchored by former England captain John Terry and he should be partnered with Ricardo Carvalho while Branislav Ivanovic will take up the right back position and John Mikel Obi should be makeshift left back. German national team captain Michael Ballack will be deployed deep in midfield for his passing ability and that will be useful for partner Frank Lampard. Salomon Kalou will also be used in the attacking third to support Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.

The only player that is definitely ruled out for Inter is Cristian Chivu (fractured skull) and will be out for the long term. Mario Balotelli (knee) and Davide Santon knee) are listed as doubtful and will be game time decisions for Mourinho. Brazilian shot stopper Julio Cesar will be back in goal after his car accident two days before the first leg. Maicon will take up his wing back position that he’s made his own and Javier Zanetti will operate on the other side, while the middle of defense Lucio will be partnered with Walter Samuel. Dejan Stankovic and Wesley Sneijder will pose the attacking threat whole Esteban Cambiasso and Thiago Motta will reinforce the steal and bite in the middle. Up front, there’s not much better pairing then Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito around and expect those two to do the business for Inter.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Inter Milan. I believe this one will go to penalties because there really isn’t much between the teams in quality and with Chelsea at home I fully expect the blues to go through on this one, plus with Mourinho’s poor record in penalty shoot outs doesn’t hold good in Inter’s favor. Also a new hero Ross Turnball will go down in Chelsea folklore and force his way into the England world cup squad!

Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan each week, feel free to leave him your thoughts and comments below.