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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg Wrap Up

Chelsea vs. Benfica 

Chelsea, the final surviving English club in the competition took a lead in their two leg quarter final show down with Benfica, winning at the stadium of light 1-0.  As the torch bearers for the English in the European competition, Chelsea have had the onus of " must succeed" put upon them. In the first leg against Portuguese opposition, they came up trumps securing an all important away goal. After a dismal display, in a dismal game against Tottenham at the weekend, the blues stepped up their game perhaps in response to my previously mentioned point and players like Ramirez and Torres had good games in a much unfamiliar line up. Solomon Kalou started off of Torres, Mikel was reinstated into the midfield, and Paulo Ferreira was brought in as right back.  The little Spaniard and creative attacking force Juan Mata had a quiet game, but former Benfica player Ramirez showed why he was signed from the Portuguese side. Another typical Chelsea performance from Fernando Torres as he did not score, yet help the ball well, skinned a few defenders and provided the chip cross that assisted to Kalou's goal.

The second leg will be at Stamford Bridge next week and I would gather that Chelsea will deal with the Portuguese side:  3-1 on aggregate.

Marseille vs. Bayern Munich

My pick for the most exciting duel in the quarterfinals proved to be far from actual. Let me just come out and say it, Marseille's starting keeper who for all he's worth is their third string, fluffed a strait forward save which deflated the side who where coping with the German powerhouse. Munich looked like the home side as they controlled most of the possession, with Lahm going walkabout on the right. The Spanish referee ruled with an iron fist, reprimanding four before the half. Ribery returned to his old side, and when his feet ensnared the ball the boos rained down possibly effecting his play as he was anonymous.  First string and French international keeper Steve Mandanda was out due to a suspension, and the second string keeper was dropped due to a poor performance.  On to the third Elinton Andrade  who turned to cellulose when a shot hit at him by Mario Gomez the naturalized German scoring machine, went right through him.  After this Marseille's stuffing was removed and Munich went on to win 2-0, with Arjen Robben adding the nail to the coffin pulling out old tricks from an old bag. 

If the French side couldn't  get it done at home, then they stand no chance in Munich next week, even with the return of Mandanda immanent. I say a 4-1 on aggregate.

AC Milan vs. Barcelona

When I saw the starting line-up for AC Milan I thought here goes another ransacking by Barcelona as most notably the absence of  center defender Thiago Silva was out due to injury. V for veteran was the name of the game as Alessandro Nesta at age 36 started in the back and Clarence Seedorf, who turns 36 this weekend started for the Rossenairi. My first instinct again was off as the game which in all due respect was rather toothless and finished in a 0-0 draw.  Messi had the ball in the bak of the net ( surprised?) but he was offside. Ibrahimnovich returned to his old stomping grounds with a point to prove, yet on another Champions League night  was missing from the spotlight. Milan should have changed the fabric of the game in the first few minutes when Ibra headed a looped ball strait to the former Real Madrid's Robinho, who skied his shot standing nearly 5 feet from goal. 

Milan heads to the Nou Camp next week and It smells like a case of " Sorry Charlie" as Barcelona are more clinical that Doogie Howser's prodigious hands. Barcelona progress 2-0 on aggregate.

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