I’m looking forward to today’s matches with great interest. Certainly at this stage we don’t get some of the snooze fest games that sometimes take place in the Group Stage. Fiorentina and Bayern Munich produced a superb match yesterday and it was exciting as heck towards the end. What in the world happened to Italian sides not being to hold on to a lead? Arsenal steamrolled Porto which I was actually quite surprised about as I believed that Porto would have been a tougher proposition.
Can AC Milan peform a minor miracle and comeback against Manchester United at Old Trafford? And can Lyon conjure up an even bigger miracle by holding on to their 1-0 lead from the first leg against Real Madrid? Read on to find out what we think…
Manchester United-AC Milan
The return of David Beckham to the club where he made a name for himself is the story everyone seems to be focusing on as the 2nd leg between Manchester United and AC Milan approaches. It doesn’t appear as though he will be in Leonardo’s starting 11 however, though I find it hard to believe he won’t come on at some point (his performances of late have been pretty poor it must be said).
United seem to have find the right time of the season to hit their groove and credit must be given to this team and Sir Alex Ferguson because they have performed well this season considering they sold Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. The Red Devils have been inconsistent for sure, but find themselves atop the Premier League standings (Chelsea do have a game in hand) and in complete control of their European destiny thanks to a 3-2 win in Milan two weeks ago.
AC Milan have rebounded well after a poor start to the season, but every time it looks like Inter Milan is letting them back into the title race, the Rossoneri have been unable to capitalize as their failure to beat Roma at the weekend proved. They will need perhaps one of the club’s best ever European performances in order to advance to the quarterfinals and let’s be honest it would be a huge shock if they were to achieve that.
My feeling is that tie was over the moment that United scored their 3rd at the San Siro. It looked like Milan quit at that moment. They scored another late on to give the scoreline a more respectable look, but now they will need a two-goal victory to advance (unless they secure a 1 goal victory by scoring more than 3 goals, i.e. 4-3, 5-4).
So though there is plenty of interest in this one, I don’t see the unthinkable happening. It’s more likely Ferguson kicks another boot at Beckham than Milan going through.
One Game, One World Prediction: Manchester United- AC Milan 2-1
This looks like the pick of the two matches today. The main questions surrounding this match is whether Lyon can duplicate the quality of their first leg performance or will Real continue their rampant form and easily advance to the last eight.
Real looked pretty bad 2-0 down to Sevilla at the weekend, but in typical fashion this season they rebounded well and recorded an impressive 3-2 comeback win. Ronaldo appears to really be hitting top gear and that will be a big worry in the Lyon camp. This is a huge match for Real and the importance of it can’t be understated. After spending more money than any club ever in the history of football last summer, to go out in the round of 16 would be an embarassment of massive proportions for a club that is aiming for European glory.
Lyon meanwhile will know that their clean victory at home affords them a reason to believe. I am wondering whether they will open up at all and really give a shot to scoring what would be a very important away goal. If they do, Real would need three to advance, something they are certainly capable of but I don’t think would be easy.
I’m hearing a lot of 3-0 predictions for Real Madrid, but I have got a feeling that Lyon are serious and won’t lie down waiting to be slaughtered. Just as we try to think outside the box here at One Game, One World, I think that Lyon will do enough to advance, however nutty that may sound.
One Game, One World Prediction: Real Madrid-Lyon 2-1