Friday, 18 March 2011

Champions League draw throws up mouth watering ties

This morning’s Champions League draw has thrown up some incredible ties including an all English quarter final and the potential to have a Barcelona vs Real Madrid semi-final. The draw in full is:

Real Madrid / Tottenham vs Barcelona / Shakhtar Donetsk

Inter Milan / Schalke vs Chelsea / Manchester United

The Champions league debutants Tottenham face a very daunting trip to the Bernebeu which will really test Harry Redknapp’s team. Their main threat in this season’s tournament has been Gareth Bale but I would expect Jose Mourinho to deal with him. However, with the 2nd leg being played at White Hart Lane anything is possible and with them likely to be underdogs Spurs certainly have a chance.

The current favourites Barcelona host Shakhtar in the first leg where they will be expected to win comfortably. The away leg at the Donbass Arena in the Ukraine will however be a very tricky game as they are very strong at home. It will also see Dmytro Chygrynskiy return to the Camp Nou for the first time since he returned to his former side. The Ukrainian centre back failed to establish himself during his time at Barcelona and will be eager to prove a point to Guardiola. If Barcelona and Madrid progress we will then see four classicos in 19 days!

Reigning champions Inter Milan face Schalke in what looks like the least interesting tie of the round. The Italian champions have played much better football under new manager Leanardo and after beating Bayern Munich in the previous round should be favourites to advance.

The tie of the round however sees Chelsea face Manchester United for a place in the semi-finals. It will be an incredibly tight game between the English sides and with United still to face them for the 2nd time in the league this season it will be so hard to pick a winner. Chelsea are out of contention for the league so will focus heavily on this game. With United still fighting on three fronts player fitness will be crucial; doubts remain about Rio Ferdinand’s fitness and key midfielders will need to return in time.

It is the strongest Champions League Quarter final draw for many years and all four ties will be fascinating games. Barcelona remain the team to beat but there remain a couple of sides who would fancy their chances.

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