UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Previews

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Previews

  • Posted by Geoff Reid
  • On February 23, 2011
  • 2010/11 UCL, Geoff Reid

By Geoff Reid

The last of the round of 16 first legs take place today with some very tasty match-ups on tap for us.

Marseille vs Manchester United from the Stade Velodromme, Marseille
Marseille manager Didier Deschamps is calling on the passionate home crowd at the Stade Velodromme to help his team get a head start in this tie. The Marseille fans are known for being some of the most passionate in France, and it truly is a beautiful stadium having seen it myself. Deschamps believes his opponents are a perfect example to follow in that winning is in the DNA of the club. The French club are in good form heading into the tie securing their third successive win over the weekend against Saint Etienne, and six matches now unbeaten.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is in the middle of juggling three different competitions with his side, but as somebody who’s been there before, he knows how to do it. Now the standard of opposition is dramatically different having played an FA Cup game against non-league side Crawley Town over the weekend, and mostly using back up or reserve players with long time defender Wes Brown being captain, and winning 1-0. United are still in fine form, and are looking to continue that today.

Both sides are hit with injuries. Loic Remy, and Brandao are both nursing ankle problems for the home side, while Andre-Pierre Gignac needs “a miracle” to be ready for this one after a groin problem. Hilton is available again after being out since October with a similar problem. With United, Ryan Giggs, Anderson, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, Park Ji-Sung, and Antonio Valencia have not made the trip to southern France. New goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard has made the trip to the Mediterranean, but Dutchman Edwin van der Sar is expected to keep his starting spot.

Prediction: Marseille 1-2 Manchester United

Inter Milan vs Bayern Munich from the San Siro, Milan
This should be a great tie, with both teams seem to be hitting form currently, plus being a repeat of last season’s final. Both clubs have gone through some changes with coaches and personnel since last May, but no doubt some of the players who are still around that took part in the final must have it on their mind. New Inter manager Leonardo has turned his side’s form around, and seem to have a new confidence about them almost recapturing last season’s form and mentality. The defending champions are now five points behind city rivals AC Milan in the domestic league, and are on a nine match unbeaten run in all competitions.

For Bayern, this season hasn’t been up to their usual high expectations getting off to a slow start, and it looks like they dug themselves too big a hole in the leauge with rival Borussia Dortmund looking to win the Bundesliga. The return of both Frank Ribery, and Arjen Robben has turned around their season, and being the team’s playmakers that’s real surprise as any club would miss the caliber of those players. If the league is out of reach for this season, then the Champions League will be the top priority for manager Louis van Gaal.

Striker Diego Milito is out for Inter with a thigh issue, but former Bayern defender Lucio has return and is one yellow card away from suspension like Cristian Chivu. Wesley Sneijder was rested over the weekend, and Esteban Cambiasso and Dejan Stankovic are both 100% fit. For Bayern, Ivica Olic still is a long term absentee, but Mario Gomez has overcome an ankle problem, and Diego Contento, and Rouven Sattelmaier are back in training.

Prediction: Inter Milan 3-2 Bayern Munich