Wednesday, April 23, 2008

UEFA Cup Semi-Final Preview

I should deeply apologize (again) for not covering the second leg of the quarterfinals, because dear me it was fantastic. Luca Toni playing like a Roman deity at the death is something us fans will be discussing for ages, and firmly established himself in the pantheon of footballing legends. And Zenit St. Petersburg continue their impressive run, raising the status of Russian Premier League football each step of the way.

Here's how they breakdown:

Bayern Munich vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
Its funny how some semi-finals often have a better bill than the finals: every Western Conference semi-final in the NBA this decade; the '04 ALCS between the Sox and Yankees, and the '07 ALCS of Sox vs. Indians (I'm a Red Sox fan, but still). Bayern's scoring arsenal feature UEFA Cup scoring leader Luca Toni (10), as with Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski (each with 5). Zenit on the other hand, have relied extensively on Pavel Pogrebnyak (8). Bayern have been shaky very often during this competition, and Zenit appear a team of destiny, dispatching both Marseille and Villareal in historical fashion. Its a crapshoot, but expect a spectacle.

Rangers vs. Fiorentina
I gotta admit, I really don't understand how Rangers are this far. Thats not to suggest that I dont like it, but they've had six different scorers. Granted, they did get to the party late but at this point scoring can't be a group activity. Fiorentina meanwhile have scored at least two aggregate goals, relying on Romanian star Adrian Mutu (who's netted 3). Fiorentina have had a pretty tough run of games in the knockout stage, having to beat both Everton and PSV, but if Rangers can keep the (odd) mojo, expect them in the final.

Rangers/Fiorentina will be live at 2:30pm on FSC, with Bayern/Zenit on tape-delay at 5. Looks like a long day at the pub for me!

UPDATE: Looks like it'll be a long day for Rangers tomorrow. And no Luca Toni for Bayern.