Tuesday, March 11, 2008

UEFA Cup Round of 16 Second Leg Preview

The Round of 16 concludes this week with a majority of the teams playing on Wednesday and just four on Thursday. The only team with their tickets punched to the next round is Bayern Munich, who absolutely demolished Anderlecht, at Anderlecht, 5-0. Everyone other match is a total crapshoot. Here’s how I see things:

[home team listed first]

Wednesday’s Fixtures:
Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Marseille (1-3)
After upsetting Villarreal, I thought Russian-league champions Zenit were the darkhorse. But Marseille have already proved their mastery of any Ruskie club after they romped Spartak Moscow 5-0 on aggregate. Expect Olympique to advance.

Hamburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen (0-1)
Leverkusen took the first match of the Bundesliga rivals by only a goal, so this one could easily go either way. I really cant tell who will win this, so because I’m a Hamburg fan, I’ll stick with them.

PSV Eindhoven vs. Tottenham (1-0)
Jefferson Augustin Guadalupe Farfan (yes, that’s his actual name) scored for PSV in one of the biggest surprises of the first leg, but Tottenham seem to have recovered from their post-Carling Cup hangover after they thrashed West Ham 4-0 over the weekend. Spurs will go through.

Everton vs. Fiorentia (0-2)
The other shocker in the previous leg was Everton’s insipid display in Italy. The Toffees’ (i.e. Yakubu) need to rebound significantly at Goodison, otherwise they’re done in Europe this season.

Bayern Munich vs. Anderlecht (5-0)
If you’re knocked out of an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, you often play ‘consolation’ games. What can ensue – provided both teams have good spirit – are “fun” points where you run around and do silly things: like playing with two discs, only throwing upside down, or category points (to name a few). This match should do something that.

Getafe vs. Benfica (2-1)
I know nothing about either club, but Adu is on Benfica. So go Portuguese.

Thursday’s Fixtures:
Werder Bremen vs. Rangers (0-2)
Unfortunately for Rangers, scorer Daniel Cousin is out with a broken jaw. Which is karma because he should be on Fulham right now. But otherwise expect Rangers to dig in with a 5-4-1 (or something of the like), and play for a dull 0-0.

Sporting Lisbon vs. Bolton
Sporting got a vital away goal at the Reebok, which is good news for them. But Bolton just can’t seem to die, so they’ll probably advance. And I'm going to be angry.