Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quick thoughts on today's Champions' league draw

The Champions' League starts in earnest today with the drawing of match ups for the round of 16 which starts in February. The potential exists for some seriously sexy match ups like another Manchester United v AC Milan showdown or Barcelona v Inter Milan...tell me you wouldn't watch that!

Who's playing who?

See this is the thing about Champions League I love, the potential for amazing match ups in the knock out stages. If I could just take off the intellectual football fan hat off for a moment and put on the simple fan hat, the knock out stages of this tournament excite me more than the World Cup. Mainly because there is the potential for titanic games between the best club sides in the world, which boasts the best players in the world. It also doesn't hurt that it's every year, and FIFA is not involved as well. I've heard arguments from platforms like the Footy Show, Match of the day and others that the group stage of the tournament takes some of the luster out of the match ups, or that the amount of money that floats around kills the vibe. Although I agree that the group stage can drag at times, I do believe this is the best footballing tournament in the world today.

Friday will prove me right with some excellent match ups. It also gives us an insight into some of the lesser known leagues like the Danish Superliga in which champions Copenhagen will enter the knock stages for the first time. It will be an up hill climb for the club whoever they draw, but as last year taught us with Bordeaux, anything could happen.

The draw I'm most interested in seeing is Arsenal's. In theory they could draw Barca or Real Madrid (Would take a day off work to watch that one) which could be instant classics. This is a squad most people thought along with Barcelona to have been drawn into an easy group, and it looked that way through the first three group games. However the wheels fell off a bit and it took a late fury of goals on match day 6 to qualify in second place. Now they face a real test against Europe's finest, will this force some serious spending by Arsene Wenger in January?

Also pre tournament favorites Real Madrid could come out with a slightly easier draw, or they could draw the already mentioned Arsenal or a stingy Marseille side who could provide some problems for Jose Mourinho's side. Remember he was brought in to get them past this stage in which they have fallen in 4 straight years. His goals were straight forward, retake the league from Barcelona, and win Champions league (European Cup) for a record 10th time. The pressure is on Mouriho and Ronaldo, but I would fancy them to make a deep run.

So much to talk about, but honestly let's see who draws who and then the fun can really begin.


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