- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On April 5, 2011
- 0 Comments
- Geoff Reid, UCL 2010/11
By Geoff Reid
Today marks the start of the final eight competing for European footballs top crown and over the next few weeks there are some extremely exciting match-ups available on offer.
Real Madrid vs Tottenham from the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
What a match to kick off the quarter finals! The big guns should be returning for the hosts, which will be a major boost to Jose Mourinho who experienced his first loss at home since managing FC Porto back in 2002 in over 150 home matches spanning four different clubs. The loss to Sporting de Gijon has affected the Spanish title race with the galacticos now being eight points behind arch rival Barcelona, and even though the league is not mathematically over yet, it looks as if the Champions League is the best chance for success for the all whites.
For the visitors, Tottenham also had a minor setback at the weekend during league play by only picking up a point against bottom of the table Wigan Athletic in a goalless draw. It’s safe to say that both clubs in this case had one eye on today’s encounter no matter what Mourinho, or Harry Redknapp says. The good news for Spurs is Welsh winger Gareth Bale should be available after missing considerable time for club and country due to injury. While Bale is not the only threat in the lineup for the north London side should be play, his performances from the group stages have now had British pundits absurdity go through the roof claiming he is now the best player in the world. In any event, he is a danger, just as main playmaker Rafael van der Vaart who would love to get one over his former club and has publicly said so.
Good news for the hosts is Gonzalo Higuain returned on the weekend after being out since November with a back injury. Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo, Angel Di Maria, and Kaka are all in the squad for Mourinho. The bad news is in form Karim Benzema, Fernando Gago, and Pedro Leon are all injured. For Redknapp and Spurs besides Bale, William Gallas should go through a late fitness test, but Alan Hutton is done for the season, and Ledley King, Jonathan Woodagate, Younes Kaboul, and Steven Pienaar are all certain to miss out.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Tottenham
Inter Milan vs Schalke from the San Siro, Milan
The tie today that won’t get as much attention but still is a tasty one on paper with the defending champions going against what can be classed as a surprise bunch so far. For the defending champions, they are coming off a demoralizing 3-0 defeat in the derby to AC Milan at the weekend, which is not the best way to prepare for this tie. However, it’s also no surprise that the squad probably had already one eye on today’s encounter since the league is looking like it won’t be theirs for the first time in a number of years, and defending the Champions League now seems like the priority. Leonardo’s side came out flat against Milan in the first half, and conceding a goal after two minutes showed that. They can’t afford to do that today.
For the visitors from Germany, it’s been an interesting season to say the least with the slow start in league play that they never have seemed to recover from, but performing well in Europe. It wasn’t enough to save Felix Magath his job though, and it’s up to Ralf Rangnick to pick up the pieces. With having possibly the greatest goal scorer since the European Cup was reformatted as the Champions League in Raul on their books, Schalke will think they have every chance of getting to the semi finals, especially with the second leg in Gelsenkirchen.
Good news for Inter is that Argentinean striker Diego Milito is back from a long standing thigh problem and made a cameo in the derby at the weekend. Leonardo is still not sure if he will risk him yet though for this one. Cristian Chivu and Andrea Ranocchina have both come through injuries themselves also. For Schalke, Christoph Metzelder broke his nose against St Pauli in a match that got cancelled into the second half due to crowd trouble, but looks to wear a mask so he can play. Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Christoph Moritz, and Christian Pander are all ruled out.
Prediction: Inter Milan 1-1 Schalke