Thursday, March 12, 2009

Champions League Quarter Finals

I think this current Barca side will score against anyone. Last year's version was unfit and reaching the end of Rijkaard's cycle: Manchester United were simply fitter last year. No-one in world football moves the ball as fast, and I'd fancy them to take anyone if they score first. The defence is of course the weak link, but didn't everyone say that about Spain before the summer? Spain's tactic was to starve their opponents of the ball, and Barca will strive to do the same. Of all the English teams, Liverpool are the most comfortable without the ball, so I could see them getting a good result against Barca. United, of course can win against anyone. I don't think Chelsea have had the neccesary continuity this season to challenge. Arsenal are finding it hard to score goals at the moment: I should know, I've lost 60 quid already this year betting on them at The Emirates!

I also think it's dangerous to draw conclusions about the overall standard of La Liga based on Real Madrid's showing against Liverpool. Yes, they lie second, but in that run of ten wins, they won at least 7 by the odd goal and they were awful to watch. Essentially Ramos had them set up to counter-attack. In fact one opposing player after a 1-0 defeat at the Bernebeu said Madrid were set up like a "small team", un equipo pequeño. Of course, when you are a goal down from the first leg and your only recourse is the counter-attack, you know it's not going to be an easy night. Liverpool pressed Madrid from the first whistle and rushed them into passes and wild clearances which were then lapped up by the Anfield side: a side much more adept at winning the" second ball" than Juande's team. Let's hope Malaga can do the same as Liverpool when Madrid visit La Roselada. Next up for Malaga are fierce rivals Sevilla.

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