So the champions leauge draw has come and gone, leaving us with some truly juicy matchups to look forward to. As a fan of beautiful football, I am very excited. As a Manchester United fan I am very,very,very nervous. Cleary we dont have the euro pedigree the likes of madrid and ac milan have, so Im always wary of whatever team we are drawn with. But to draw the seven time defending french champions lyon, that poses a really tricky test right off the bat. For starters they have Juninho, who i consider as good a dead ball striker as Beckham or anyone else in the world. Second, they have a seemingly endless supply of role players who can come in and fill whatever void is created by the worlds next superstars departing (essien and the like). Most people would say they struggled in the group stages a bit, enough at least to not come out a top seed. But the team i saw play rangers in the final round of group play absolutely exploded in the final fifteen minutes, and Ive got to say (and im sure im not the first) that i think Karim Benzema is an absolute stud with a promising future for les blues. I only hope Rio and Vidic can keep a lid on them for long enough to put the tie beyond all doubt. Ive got faith in Wazza and Ronaldo though, not to mention Giggs who can always be counted on when big games come up.
As for some of the other ties that really caught my eye, i cant wait to see the outcome of Arsenal v AC Milan. The reiging champs of europe arent really playing there best at the moment, but when youve got a midfield pair like Pirlo and Gattuso anything is possible. Thats not even mentioning Seedorf, and the worlds legitimate player of the year Kaka. Arsenal have some young guns of their own(lots of pun intended) but i cant see them being battle tested in europe enough to be able to handle something like this. Im not sure they have enough bite in midfield to really hold posession and kill of the tie like theyll need to in order to win. Gallas is great, but i think hell have to much work on his hands trying to keep Kaka from dribbiling right down Almunias throat and into the quarter finals. Thats not to say they dont have a chance though, they are tops of the prem right now for a reason. They play football thats some pleasing on the eye, that at times im pissed when the fulltime whistle blows. And with the way Fabregas is playing at the moment, he might just win the tie with some magic all by himself. If i had to put money on one of them, i would make the safe and smart bet and go with Milan. For the good of beautiful football having a chance to shine though youve gotta want Arsenal, and this is coming from a man u fan mind you.
It seems like Chelsea will have a fairly easy job with Olympiacos. Nothing against greek football, but its not top tier and Chelsea have more than enough class to walk away with this one before the first leg is over.Since I pretty much hate Chelsea, thats enough said on the blues.
Liverpools tie is a little bit harder to pick. Theyre going against Inter, who carry some heavy weight in Serie A. Only thing is, they dont shine on european nights as well as Liverpool. I usually think that domestic form gets thrown out the window when the big night lights flick on, but here I see something different. Liverpool have been so topsy tervy this season, seeming like title contenders and then middle of the tables all in the same week. They struggled in group play as well, so i think those two facts spell out one thing, tactical failure. They have some real class players, but something is never quite right about them. I think Inter have enough to expose them this time around, and ill put my buck on Inter.
Well thats my first half of thought on the draw, back next time with the non british teams draws i find interesting.