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Thursday, April 14, 2011

2010/2011 UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal Predictions by Chris Behrens

by Chris Behrens for World Football Commentaries

UEFA Champions League Tickets: Buy tickets online to every UEFA Champions League match.

Editor's Note

Chris successfully predicted all 16 teams in the group round phase and five out of eight in the round of 16. And now, three out of four in the quarterfinal round.

Total: 24/28 = 86%
Real Madrid vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Two teams you didn’t necessarily expect to be in the quarterfinals, but for different reasons. Real Madrid had experienced a six-year hiatus from the UCL quarters thanks to their drought against Lyon. Luckily, the Special One entered and has led Los Blancos back to their rightful place amongst the last 8. Harry Redknapp’s boys were drawn with AC Milan in the Round of 16, somehow stealing a victory at the San Siro before holding on for dear life at White Hart Lane. The darlings (Hotspur) of the tournament face a very tough scenario to advance to the semi-finals.

Jose Mourinho’s home record is impeccable and with the first leg at the Bernabeu, it will be difficult for Tottenham to find a result at that fortress. This means the English club will likely have to play catch-up in the second leg, a tall task with the master tactician roaming the other end of the sideline. There’s a lot of hype behind this tie and for good reason; the star power is immense, with one man clad in a Cristiano Ronaldo jersey, Mesut Ozil, Iker Casillas and Karim Benzema looking to overpower Rafael Van der Vaart and one of the most exciting players in all of Europe, Gareth Bale. After taking the first leg, expect Real to sit in a defensive fortress, absorbing the pressure and striking on the counter.

First Leg (at Real): Real Madrid win 2-0 (Correct: 4 x 0)

Second Leg (at Tottenham): 1-1 draw (Incorrect 0 x 1)

Aggregate: Real advance on to the semi-finals, winning 3-1 on aggregate. (Correct.)

Chelsea vs. Manchester United

A classic rematch of the 2007-2008 Champions League final sees a fierce rivalry come to the forefront of the premier soccer competition in the world. Chelsea’s form has been, to say the least, sporadic at best. The arrival of ultra-expensive Spaniard Fernando Torres has amazingly seen the attack dry up completely. Didier Drogba is occasionally relegated to the bench due to his floundering form and Torres has yet to net for the Blues. Fan are getting frustrated, so luckily Nicholas Anelka and new signing David Luiz have stepped up to pick up the slack a bitsince donning a Chelsea jersey. On the other hand, United are dealing with injury issues to their back line but are still scraping out results to everyone’s amazement and top the EPL. Chicharito has been a savior for the Red Devils this year while Wayne Rooney has been way off the pace. With both strikers forming a terrifying partnership and having the EPL’s leading goal-scorer waiting on the bench, this is about the scariest attack a team could face.

With all that said, the first leg at Stamford Bridge should see Chelsea edge out a result, given United’s struggles in finding a win at the Blues. I expect United to largely dominate the 1st leg, just as Sir Alex’s men did earlier this year in league play, but still find a way to lose late on. This will set up a mouth-watering second leg in which United will have to claw their way to a spot in the semi-finals. The morale is low at the Bridge, but Champions League is really the only chance they have to earn a title this campaign. The Blues will be highly motivated, but I don’t think their attack will mesh in time for them to claw a way to the next round of the competition. United’s roster is deep, so the injury concerns shouldn’t worry the manager all that much. Red Devils advance, edging out the Blues on aggregate after a rousing victory at Old Trafford.

1st Leg (at Chelsea): Chelsea win 1-0 (Wrong: 0 x 1)

2nd Leg (at Manchester): Manchester United win 3-1 (Correct on score as well.)

Aggregate: United advance, winning 3-2 on aggregate. (Correct.)

Barcelona vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Barca have been handed one of the easiest and most surprising teams to face in the quarter-finals in Ukranian powerhouse Shakhtar Donetsk. The two sides have played two years ago, where the Blaugrana struggled to assert their dominance but eventually edged out the Ukrainians with a late extra time goal by Pedro. Both sides are a bit different than their 2009 sides, but remain largely unchanged in tactics and style of play. The first leg sees Shakhtar travel to the unbelievably intimidating Camp Nou, where Barcelona has shown it can be the best team in the world by miles and miles. I don’t expect that to change at all. The important element will be how clinical Barcelona can be, specifically Messi and David Villa. Both score at an amazing rate, but they miss an amazing number of close chances each game that other strikers would die for.

After Barca secure the first leg through sheer dominance and mass possession of the soccer ball, they’ll have a tough task of squeezing out a result at Shakhtar. Shakhtar is incredible at home just like Barcelona and will have a huge raucous crowd behind them in support. Barcelona should win the possession battle again, thanks to ball-winner Sergio Busquets and the master of Iniesta and Xavi’s movement in the middle of the park. However, the injuries (and unfortunate medical issues) hampering the Barcelona back line leave the squad ridiculously thin. A makeshift backline may be implemented again by Pep Guardiola. This match up will ultimately come down to how many goals Barca can put in the back of the net at Camp Nou. If it’s 3 or more, Shakhtar have no chance to advance. I’m thinking this is the case.

First Leg (At Barcelona): Barcelona win 3-0 (Correct: 5 x 1)

Second Leg (At Shakhtar): 1-1 draw (Wrong 0 x 1)

Aggregate: Barcelona advance to the semi-finals in a comfortable, 4-1 aggregate win. (Correct).

Internazionale Milano vs. Schalke 04

The defending champions of the competition will be relieved to not have drawn any English or Spanish opposition in the contest. Schalke is arguably the weakest team left in the competition, largely due to their heavy reliance on the striking prowess of Raul. The emergence of Farfan for the German side against struggling Valencia was truly one of the only reasons Schalke advanced on in the competition. On the other side of the coin, Inter participated in one of the most enthralling 2nd legs against Bayern Munich in years, erasing their 1st leg deficit at the San Siro and shocking the world at Munich. Though far removed from their treble winning campaign last season, this side still has loads of quality that cannot be denied. Their winning mentality and prior experience in Europe is also invaluable.

The first leg sees the German side travel to the San Siro. Both sides are certainly shaky at the back so a high scoring affair could easily be in the works. Leonardo’s emphasis on not caring about goals conceded, rather results, has not caught up to him yet. At one point, it will in the competition, but I don’t think this is the stage to see that in. Sneijder should lead the troops admirably and I’m expecting Eto’o to net at least once in the match up. The second leg will see the German side go chasing and perhaps make things interesting. Farfan is a key element of the team now, and Raul’s experience deep in European play is a coveted asset. However, the rest of the squad is pretty average compared to other players left in the competition. Inter march on.

1st leg (at Inter Milan): Inter win 3-1 (Wrong: 2 x 5)

2nd leg (at Schalke): 2-2 draw (Wrong: 2 x 1)

Aggregate: Inter advance to the semi-finals for the second year in a row, winning 5-3 on aggregate. (Wrong)

About the Author

Chris Behrens, Champions League Correspondent and soccer seer at soccerpro.com.

Chris gets his all of his licensed soccer equipment at soccerpro.com.

Please check out SoccerProse: A soccer blog for soccer players, fans, parents and coaches.

Do you agree or disagree with Chris? Please let us know your own selections in the comments section.

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1 comment:

Steve Amoia said...

Chris, thank you for another great commentary on the UEFA Champions League.

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