If a third meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea wasn’t good enough for you, how about let’s try a fourth? The draw for the quarterfinal of the UEFA Champions League once again sees our beloved Blues face very familiar opposition in Liverpool. We all know the history between our two sides in the Champions League: the ghost goal in 2005, the penalty shootout in 2007, the eventual breakthrough win last season. What does this season bring?
As usual, I think that this tie that will produce a very close result. We all know Rafa’s tactics in Europe and how he’ll set up his team. It hasn’t surprised us in any previous meetings and it won’t surprise us this time around either. I think that the biggest factor in the match is the renewed spirit and style of football that Guus Hiddink has brought to this side. He’s brought a confidence back that was lacking since the beginning of the season and the entire side is playing well. I think another difference is Liverpool’s reliance on Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to get them goals. Eventually, it will be their undoing and I think that time is in this round. I don’t expect us to win by a substantial margin, but I do predict that we will advance again, perhaps in extra time.
Other fixtures from the draw have Arsenal drawn against Villarreal, Manchester United against Porto, and Barcelona against Bayern Munich.
Arsenal against Villarreal is an interesting match to me because Villarreal have proven themselves to be a tricky opponent in the Champions League. They don’t score a lot of goals, but they seem to defend quite well against English opposition as their record against United has shown. What makes it more interesting is the fact that Arsenal still have a tendency to create a lot of chances, but not score a lot of goals. Arsenal will be boosted by the returns of Fabregas and Adebayor but will that be enough? I think that Villarreal, being drawn at home first, have the slight advantage. If they can keep Arsenal from scoring at El Madrigal, I can see them nicking a late goal at the Emirates to advance to the semis.
United against Porto seems pretty straightforward to me. United simply have too much firepower for Porto and it appears that the only team that can stop United, at the moment, is United themselves. Provided that United can avoid complacency (which I think they suffered from against Liverpool last weekend), they have more than enough quality to defeat Porto. I really can’t see any way that Porto can win this one.
Barcelona against Bayern Munich will not be a match to watch if you like defensive struggles. If Liverpool and Chelsea will be a defensive battle, then Barcelona and Bayern will be a race to score more goals. Barcelona may possibly have the most weapons in attack in Europe with Messi, Eto’o, and Henry. Bayern’s attacking options aren’t poor either, boasting Ribery, Klose, and Toni. Add to that the fact that both defenses have looked suspect and you have a recipe for goals. I fancy Barcelona to score more than Bayern in this one and just maybe Barcelona’s back four can conjure up a bit of success for them in this round.
The quarterfinals of the Champions League are set. We have some interesting fixtures to look at as neutrals, but the big fixture is still the annual ritual of meeting Liverpool in Europe. We beat them last season and we still have more than enough quality to see them off again. Enjoy the matches everyone and come on you Blues!