UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Preview

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Preview

  • Posted by Geoff Reid
  • On February 22, 2011
  • Geoff Reid, UCL 2010/11

By Geoff Reid

Kobenhavn vs Chelsea from Parken Stadion, Copenhagen
Already the Danish champions have made history by becoming the first Danish side to play in the knockout rounds. Of course similar to a few clubs who’s domestic league shut down, Kobenhavn are no different and they say the break has actually helped them prepare for this challenge. A win will be preferred, but a scoreless draw would also not be a bad result for the hosts.

Chelsea on the other hand have not been in good form at all, and just when it looks like they’ve finally turned the corner, they fail to clear another hurdle. It looks as if the Champions League is their last chance of winning any silverware this season, and manager Carlo Anchelotti understands the importance of this competition not just to him, but the club as a whole. With rumors picking up regarding Guus Hiddink returning to Chelsea, this match has all of a sudden become a must win for the west London club.

The only injury news for the hosts is Martin Bergvold who hasn’t played an official match since August 21st, but having taken part in the winter friendlies could be in contention. Zdenek Pospech, and Dame N’Doye are both one yellow card away from picking up a one game suspension. New Chelsea signing Fernando Torres is available for selection, but new defender David Luiz is already cup-tied having played for Benfica in the group stage. John Obi Mickel is also one yellow card away from missing the next game, whole both Yossi Benayoun, and Alex are still long term absences.

Prediction: Kobenhavn 2-1 Chelsea

Lyon vs Real Madrid from the Stade de Gerland, Lyon
Just 12 months ago it was Lyon who knocked out Real Madrid at this stage of the competition. On top of that, the visitors have been beaten in the last 16 in each of the past six years. Lyon manager Claude Puel believes the galaticos this season are more balanced then last season, but is very confident his team can continue to have Jose Mourinho’s team’s number. The French side warmed up by beating AS Nancy 4-0 in league play on Friday, and are in fine form leading up to today’s contest.

Mourinho knows the history over the last few years with his club not making the quarter finals, and especially Lyon being a bogey side for the all whites. There is no doubt that this current lineup is more balanced then in previous years, especially in the midfield. In past seasons, attacking weapons were never a problem with Real, but massive holes in defensive midfield have often let the club down when it mattered most. For years, managers who have come and gone have often stated the need for defensive help with the board ignoring those pleas and signing attacking players instead.

The unfortunate thing for the hosts is striker Lisandro pulled his hamstring in training so he will miss this encounter. The good news is Yoann Gourcuff, Clement Grenier, and Cesar Delgado are all fit after having lengthy spells on the treatment table. For Madrid, Gonzalo Higuain may miss the rest of the season with a slipped disc in his back. kaka, and Fernando Gago have shaken off their injuries, and Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul Abiol will miss the second leg at the Santiago Bernebeu if they collect yellow cards today.

Prediction: Lyon 2-1 Real Madrid