Ok, we are back after a few days off and raring to go here at One Game, One World. There is some interesting stuff to come from us in the next few weeks so keep a look out for that including some fantastic interviews and features. But for now, let’s direct our attention to the Champions’ League in what promises to be an exciting week.
Four quarterfinal places will be booked by Wednesday evening and all four ties remain in the balance, though certainly there are favorites after the first leg results.
Things get kicked off on Tuesday with two very interesting ties. Arsenal hope that a second leg at the Emirates Stadium will overturn their 2-1 deficit over Porto while Fiorentina hope the same thing as they attempt to comeback from their own 2-1 defeat in the first leg to Bayern Munich.
You just don’t know what Arsenal is going to do this season. After losing to Manchester United and Chelsea a few weeks back the Gunners’ campaign looked dead and buried, however yet another resurgence by this resilient Arsenal team has them only a couple points off the pace in the Premier League and still in with a shot to go further in Europe.
This second leg encounter however will be tricky for Arsene Wenger’s side to negotiate for sure. While they are still in contention for a domestic title, Porto are currently 11 points behind leaders Benfica in Portugal and are realistically focusing on Europe now.
The Portuguese side showed enough in the first leg to suggest they could spring a surprise, though certainly they are much better performers at the Estadio do Dragao. Though they were gifted two goals by Lukasz Fabianski in the first leg, this is a team that has a good attack and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them bag a goal or two in London.
In the end, I see Arsenal winning it, but the question for me will be whether Porto can attack the Gunners early and maybe score first to exert some serious pressure on the hosts. Porto will put up a good fight, but a renewed spirit within the Arsenal ranks will lead them into the quarterfinals.
One Game, One World Prediction: Arsenal-Porto 3-1
Fiorentina got hosed in the first leg, let’s tell it how it was. Not only were they reduced to 10 men thanks to a dubious red card, however Miroslav Klose should have been sent off later on in the match and then to add insult to injury, the German striker scored the winner late on…and he was offside by a country mile.
The Italians can take away from the match two very important things, their performance and more importantly a vital away goal. There appears to be a serious desire to advance into the last eight for Fiorentina as I caught a quote by captain Riccardo Montolivo earlier branding this game as the most important of his life. The club’s superb performances in Europe have been a tonic for fans in light of the team’s struggling Serie A form as they lost again (2-1 to Juventus at home) at the weekend and lie in 11th place.
Bayern Munich meanwhile are enjoying things in Germany at the moment as after a rough start to the season they are now atop the Bundesliga by two points and have aspirations of reaching far in the Champions’ League. The Bavarians won’t be too concerned by playing in Italy, after all it was there were the team’s entire season was turned around back in December when they defeated Juventus 4-1 to advance to the knockout stage of the competition and save what looked to be a sinking ship on all fronts.
They’re all tough to call, but this one is really difficult. Fiorentina, full of anger at the officiating and result of the first leg, will undoubtedly come flying out of the gates and put the Germans under unbelievable pressure. But if Louis Van Gaal’s in-form team (they have won 14 of their last 16 matches in all competitions) can withstand what should be an early onslaught then they could advance. Out of all of the matches, this could be one that sees overtime and perhaps penalties to decide it.
One Game, One World Prediction: Fiorentina-Bayern Munich 2-2