Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Champions League Returns!!!! The Knockout Stages!!!

So today marks the first knockout matches of the Champions League. They are two-legged ties, each team with the chance to play at home. UEFA has spread out the games a little bit more this year, opting to play this round with 2 games a day for 2 weeks, then have the return legs on the same schedule. Here are my predictions (my picks in bold):

Tottenham vs AC Milan
Valencia vs Schalke
Arsenal vs Barcelona
Roma vs Shaktar Donetsk
Copenhagen vs Chelsea
Lyon vs Real Madrid
Inter Milan vs Bayern Munich
Marseille vs Manchester United

I don't see too many upsets in this round. I think Barca will struggle more with Arsenal than most people think. I will pick a 4-3 aggregate score for that tie, but Barcelona to go through.

I think AC Milan will "upset" Tottenham, but really this shouldn't be considered an upset. Milan got second in the group, but I think they will batter Spurs at home today and then hold on in the second leg at White Hart Lane.

Some of the other ties that are interesting are Roma vs Shaktar and Lyon vs Real Madrid. Especially since Madrid was knocked out of the CL in this stage for the last 6 seasons, and last year at this stage by Lyon. Hopefully CR7 can carry his team into the next round.

Inter Milan and Bayern Munich is a rematch of last year's final but I don't see Inter having too much trouble with this. I will say 4-2 over the two legs, and expect Eto'o to play a big role.

I obviously hope Manchester United don't have any trouble, but its important that they (and Chelsea in their tie) have a solid performance in the first leg on the road, to guarantee their move into the last 8.