After two superb matches played out on Tuesday that saw Manchester United defeat AC Milan 3-2 at the San Siro and Lyon keep their fine home record against Real Madrid intact with a 1-0 victory, two more exciting fixtures are on tap for Wednesday. The best of Tuesday had to have been two goals that were scored.
Jean Il Makoun’s strike againt Real Madrid was fantastic, a true wonder goal. While Clarence Seedorf’s skillful goal against Manchester United was quite nice. Anyone catch Paul Scholes’ goal? Oh my goodness, surely one of the luckier ones I have seen in the past couple years. Anyhow… enjoy our quick previews and predictions.
Bayern Munich-Fiorentina: Bayern Munich’s season looked dead in the water and Louis Van Gaal appeared to be facing an early exit back in December, however a fantastic 4-1 defeat of Juventus in Turin rejuvenated the Bavarians’ campaign and the club have been firing on all cylinders since.
What appeared to be a season destined to end in failure with slumping domestic and European form has been expertly turned around. Surely the addition of Arjen Robben has given Bayern that extra bit of creativity and speed to make the difference in some matches. Add to this the return of French star Franck Ribery and Bayern enter this two-legged tie as slight favorites.
Fiorentina’s season has been the exact opposite to their German opponents as the Viola enjoyed a great start to the season both in Serie A and in Europe, but now finds themselves in the middle of big dip in form. Losers of 5 of their last 6 in Italy, Fiorentina are hoping that a return to action in the Champions’ League will reinvigorate the club and allow them finish the season strongly.
All is not lost yet in Italy as a good run could see them still claim a European place, however the focus of the club surely now will be to advance as far as possible in the Champions’ League. Hopes will undoubtedly rest on Alberto Gilardino to return to the scorer’s sheet and perhaps claim a vital away goal.
These two sides are going in two different directions. Fiorentina, despite their form, must be respected, but Bayern have become a settled side and are playing well so expect them to win this one.
One Game, One World Prediction: Bayern Munich-Fiorentina 2-0
Another intriguing match-up takes place at the Estadio do Dragao in Oporto. Porto host Arsenal in a match that should feature some quality, attacking football. Porto are an experienced side and though they are the underdogs will aim to take the advantage in the friendly confines of the Dragao.
Jesualdo Ferreira’s men are 9 points adrift (with a game in hand) on the domestic front from leaders Benfica so again like many other teams they are hoping that the return of European football may inspire them to go on and make a sustainable title challenge.
There is no shortage of firepower with this bunch and the young up-and-coming strikeforce of Radamel Falcao and Varela will ensure that the Arsenal backline has to be very strong.
Arsenal meanwhile have an injury crisis to deal with ahead of their clash as no fewer than 8 players are ruled out for this Round of 16 match. Andrei Arshavin, Manuel Almunia, William Gallas, and Alex Song are just some of the first team regulars that will miss this first leg encounter. Arsenal do possess a very deep squad, but questions remain as to whether the youngsters that will be brought in can do the business in a match of this magnitude.
Arsene Wenger will have no question that they can and a victory in Portugal could give this team new found confidence heading into the crunch part of the season. After disappointing defeats against Manchester United and Chelsea in the last few weeks, the Gunners could do with a European pick me up which could give them the belief that they could still claim the Premier League where they currently lie in 3rd, six points off the pace.
This should be an exciting affair with some goals in it. Arsenal’s performances in the last few seasons of Champions’ League play have been very good, but their current injury problems can’t be overlooked. Porto will provide stern opposition and perhaps shade this game, but look for Arsenal, even if they lose, to bring at least one away goal back for the return at the Emirates Stadium.
One Game, One World Prediction: Porto-Arsenal 2-1