UEFA Champions League Preview

UEFA Champions League Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 30, 2010
  • Bayern Munich, Bordeaux, Geoff Reid, Lyon, Manchester United, UEFA Champions League

By Geoff Reid

Lyon vs Bordeaux From The Stade de Gerland, Lyon
This tie is fascinating for a lot of reasons. All the credit must go to Lyon for coming through their last 16 tie against Real Madrid and getting a result in the Bernebeau. Bordeaux had a difficult task against Olympiakos and came through in the end and this should be a great advert for French football. Ligue 1 often doesn’t get mentioned when talking about the best leagues in the world because the clubs don’t have as much money compared to clubs from England, Spain, Italy and to a certain extent Germany. What shouldn’t be forgotten is so many top level players got their big break in France and really set them on amazing paths. This tie should show a good percentage of another generation of top footballers that five years from now will be playing with some of the biggest clubs in the world.

Lyon have Francois Clerc (knee), Jean-Alain Boumsong (calf), and Joan Hartock (achilles) as the only players on injured reserve. What will be interesting is four of Claude Puel’s key men will miss the second leg match if they pick up a yellow card: Sidney Govou, Lisandro, Cris, and Miralem Pjanic so that will be on the minds of those players when they go in for tackles. Jean II Makoun (groin) and Michel Bastos (muscle) both returned from injuries this past weekend and will be available for selection. Expect Lyon to try and dictate the game at a fast tempo and catch Bordeaux off guard being the home side. After defeating the galaticos in the previous round, Lyon will be playing with no fear.

For Laurent Blanc’s squad, Marc Planus (knee), Abdou Traore (hamstring), and Gregory Sertic (broken toe) are out injured, while key man Alou Diarra is suspended for this one. What will be interesting to watch is how will Bordeaux react after their loss in the French Cup Final this past weekend? Will the squad mentally be down still or was one eye on this tie all along? Both managers have said that even though they’ve played against one another in the league previously, this two matches will be completely different and we’ve seen this when other clubs from the same country have drawn one another in the knockout stages over the years. Blanc has proven to be very good tactically, so this might not be the most entertaining of ties, most likely it will be a chess match.

Prediction: Lyon 0-1 Bordeaux. Blanc’s lads should get the away goal and pick up the vital away result for the advantage of having the second leg at home.

Bayern Munich vs Manchester United From The Allianz Arena, Munich
In what is arguably the tie of the round, the rematch of the 1999 final 11 years on is very intriguing. That final went down as one of the most dramatic and best ever finals in the competitions history and if we get anything close to the drama on that night in Barcelona all these years later, we will be in for one special treat. Louis van Gaal admits United are the favorites in this matchup, but knows over two matches they can old their own. Van Gaal also admitted recently he was jealous of the resources available to Sir Alex Ferguson and who wouldn’t be? They’ve shown to be a complete team in the last few seasons and are still holding their own with the loss of Ronaldo and Tevez. Sir Alex said that it’s matches like these that makes him happy to do his job, it’s what makes this competition the best in the world from a club perspective.

The Bavarians do not have anybody completely ruled out, although Mario Gomez (calf) and Arjen Robben (calf) are both listed as doubtful and will be game time decisions for Dutchman van Gaal. German international Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended for this one, while Danijel Pranjic, and Mark van Bommel will both be suspended for the second leg should they each pick up a yellow card. The good news is Martin Demichelis returned after being out for several weeks on Saturday. If Robben plays, and you would think he has to being this is the game you risk putting your best player in the most important match of the season so far, it would take the pressure off French winger Frank Ribery. One of the interesting things about watching Bayern this season being coached under van Gaal, is the team plays a Dutch style and who would have thought that a year ago? Also, how will Bayern react after losing at home to Stuttgart 2-1 on the weekend?

The red devils have Anderson (knee), Wes Brown (metatarsal), John O’Shea (thigh), and Michael Owen (hamstring) who is out for the season, all ruled out for this one. Center back Nemanja Vidic will miss the second leg if he is booked, and Johnny Evans returned from a recent knee injury this past weekend. United are currently full of confidence after thrashing Bolton 4-0 on Saturday and will be looking for Wayne Rooney to get the vital away goal needed to set up the second leg nicely at Old Trafford.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 1-1 Manchester United. Look for Rooney to score the opening goal, with Ribery equalizing in what should be a better result for United overall.

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