footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Posts tagged ‘olympiacos’

3 Things I Learned From the Uefa Champions League Draw

  1. It’s too damn long.

  1. Arsenal can’t never get a break.

3. You CAN go home again. 

I can’t predict anything until a ball is kicked (how’s that for hedging), but here’s how the groups shook out.

Group A

PSG

Real Madrid

Shakhtar Donetsk

Malmo

Group B

PSV

Man. United

CSKA Moscow

Wolfsburg

Group C

Benfica

Atletico Madrid

Galatasary

Astana

Group D

Juventus

Man. City

Sevilla

Monchengladbach

Group E

Barcelona

Leverkusen

Roma

BATE Borisov

Group F

Bayern

Arsenal

Olympiacos

Dinamo Zagreb

Group G

Chelsea

Porto

Dynamo Kyiv

Tel Aviv

Group H

Zenit St. Petersburg

Valencia

Lyon

Gent

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On to the Next

Manchester United survived Olympiacos – and many a gloom & doom prediction – to advance to the Uefa Champions League quarterfinals. Time will tell if this good result is a turning point for David Moyes and his team or just a blip of good fortune in their season of misery.

Rounding out the quarterfinal lineup is Borussia Dortmund who survived a (sort of) comeback from Zenit St. Petersburg.

This Friday’s quarterfinal draw should be interesting.

Atletico Madrid
Borussia Dortmund
Chelsea FC
FC Barcelona
FC Bayern Munich
Manchester United
Paris Saint-Germain
Real Madrid

The only prediction I feel safe in making is that Chelsea will have to play one of the Madrid teams.

Chelsea Advances & Drogba Says Goodbye

Thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Gary Cahill, Chelsea advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals. But the big story of the night was the love-in the Chelsea fans had for Didier Drogba who was returning to Stamford Bridge for the first time since he helped Chelsea win the Champions League in 2012. The match may have been boring, but it had one of my favorite things: futbol moments – those little nuggets of human connection that bubble to the surface of the cutthroat sporting competition. Jose Mourihno & Drogba embracing before the match, Drogba being marked by his former teammates John Terry & Gary Cahill. I live for that stuff – even when it involves the hated Chelsea.

As for Chelsea’s chances in the CL, I’m putting them in the team-no-one-wants-to-face category, though I wouldn’t put it past Mourihno to park the bus all the way to Lisbon and win it all.

Only 2 more CL matches – Manchester United vs. Olympiacos and Borussia Dortmund vs. Zenit St. Petersburg – left to determine the remaining quarterfinalists.

An actual CL shock?

Manchester United lost to Greek side Olympiacos in today’s Champions League action – totally validating the shakiness of my prediction skills. But can we really call this a shocking loss?

Yes and no.

As Olympiacos and its fans would no doubt remind us, beating Manchester United in a major European competition is still a pretty big deal. And the Greek team should revel in this win with no asterisks or qualifications attached to it.

But the fact remains that this was a bad performance in a season full of them for Manchester United. And I’m not entirely sure they’ll be able to recover when the tie resumes at Old Trafford in a couple of weeks.

It’s Baaaaack

After a two-month hiatus, UEFA Champions League returns this week. And because I never learn my lesson, I’m putting my shoddy prediction skills to work again. Here’s who I think will be celebrating when the round of 16 concludes next month.

Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich: The one everyone has been talking about since before the round of 16 draw occurred. Bayern have dominated everything they’ve done this season – losing only once (to Manchester City in the UCL group stage). And while Arsenal topped the Premier League for most of the season, they now sit second, and their form the past month has been shaky. I think Bayern will advance, but I am still not sold on them repeating as European Champions. Winner: Bayern Munich

Manchester City vs. Barcelona: Both teams bring good form into the tie, but I think the Catalans will advance easily. Winner: FC Barcelona

Bayer 04 Leverkeusen vs. Paris Saint-Germain: Even without injured Edinson Cavani, PSG should have too much for the Bundesliga’s second place club. That said, this is probably the matchup that most intrigues me in this round. Winner: Paris Saint-Germain

AC Milan vs. Atletico de Madrid: As with any tie involving Milan, this strikes me as a toss-up. Milan have performed poorly in Serie A all season and needed a Mario Balotelli wonder goal to beat lowly Bologna last Friday. That said, Atletico Madrid haven’t been any great shakes in La Liga – recently relinquishing their league lead to the Barca-Real tandem. Still, I think they will have just enough to get past Milan. Winner: Atletico de Madrid

Olympiacos vs. Manchester United: So, in December, I said Olympiacos had no hope of beating Manchester United. But Man U’s Premier League travails the last month – to say nothing of the pitiful loss to Sunderland in the League Cup – has to have given the denizens of Karaiskakis Stadium some cause for hope. Still picking the Red Devils to get through. Winner: Manchester United FC

Galatasaray AŞ vs. Chelsea FC: This only holds interest for me because of the reunion (of sorts) between Jose Mourihno and two of his former players – Didier Drogba & Wesley Sneijder. Otherwise – I got nothin’. Oh, Galatasary are currently second in the Turkish Super League. Chelsea will advance easily. Winner: Chelsea FC

FC Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid: This should be easy for Madrid, but honestly, it’s hard to predict much with that team. As much talent as they have, they are still capable of throwing up random awful performances. I know little about Schalke’s performances this season, except to say they’re currently fourth in the Bundesliga and they just beat Bayer. This doesn’t help me predict anything, but since when has that stopped me? Winner: Real Madrid CF

FC Zenit vs. Borussia Dortmund: BvB are on something of an upswing, but even if that wasn’t the case, getting past Zenit should be easy peazy, especially with players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan returning from injury. Winner: Borussia Dortmund

Rd of 16 Draw Projections

The Group Stage of UEFA Champions League is over, and to my mind, a whole new tournament begins with the round of 16 draw.

My projections for the draw before it’s revealed in a few hours:

Manchester United vs. AC Milan

Real Madrid vs. Bayer 04 Leverkeusen

Paris Saint-Germain vs. FC Zenit

FC Bayern Munchen vs. Arsenal FC

Chelsea FC vs. Olympiacos

Borussia Dortmund vs. Galatasary AŞ

Club Atletico de Madrid vs. Manchester City FC

FC Barcelona vs. Schalke 04

And So the Group Stage Ends

After six matchdays, the UEFA Champions League has whittled to 16 the 32 teams that began the Group Stage in September. Along the way, some groups threw up surprises (Ciao, Juventus), while others stayed tight until almost the last kick.

At the start of the Group Stage, I made my picks for winners and runners-up. So, how did I do?

In Group A, I picked Manchester United and Bayer LeverKeusen to prevail, and they did – though not before putting out some lackluster performances. Group B was supposed to yield Real Madrid and Juventus as winner and runner-up, respectively. But while the Spaniards did their part (progressing through the group undefeated), Juventus started the competition playing badly and were eventually eliminated on this last matchday by Galatasary. Likewise, in Group C, Benfica, my pick for runner-up to Paris Saint-Germain, are out of the tournament; Greek team Olympiacos is going to the round of 16 instead.

Group D proved to be status quo as defending champions Bayern Munich and Manchester City are on to the next round – the latter for the first time. No doubt Man City will take confidence from their defeat of Bayern on the final matchday.

Despite twice defeating Chelsea, Switzerland’s FC Basel are out of the competition after losing to Schalke 04. Honestly, this is surprising to me. Basel played Chelsea off the park TWICE, and Schalke have been weaksauce in this competition and in the Bundesliga. Yet Chelsea and Schalke are the teams that ended up going through from Group E. At least I got the winner and runner-up right for this group!

As advertised, the Group of Death (Group F) showed no mercy, as Napoli were eliminated despite beating Arsenal 2-0 on Matcday 6. Borussia Dortmund squeaked into the round of 16 with just about the last kick of their game against Marseille. Seeing Gonzalo Higuain cry reminded me of why a Group of Death stresses me out. Inevitably, hearts get broken.

Zenit St. Petersburg followed Atletico Madrid out of Group G, giving me a perfect record in this group and ensuring that I get to continue ogling the pretty that is Anatoliy Tymoshchuk in the next round.

Finally, in Group H, Barcelona won the Group and AC Milan did just enough to come out runners-up. But I ran out of fucks to give about this group when I saw that Barca and Milan were drawn together again.

So, another Group Stage ends, and draw day for the round of 16 awaits on December 16. I’ll be up bright and early for it.

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