This week is the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. There are four matches today and four tomorrow and I am hoping that we will get some better games than the boredom we suffered through two weeks ago.
Liverpool hosts Real Madrid. Liverpool always sets up well for Champions Leage and carrying a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu with the surprising win two weeks ago, I would expect that Liverpool will set up to protect the win. A quick goal by Real Madrid should open the game up. The intersting undercurrent is that Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is rumored to be on teh short list for the manager position at Real Madrid. If Liverpool wins today, he may actually start packing his bags. If Liverpool loses, all those contracts he rejected recently will come back to haunt him. Liverpool will not have Yossie Benayoun who was injured in training and may be with Fernando Torres as well. Steven Gerrard should be back.
Liverpool will be tough at Anfield, like they always are on European nights. A score draw is likely, 1-1 tonight with Liverpool advancing 2-1 on aggregate.
Juventus hosts Chelsea. Chelsea grabbed a goal two weeks ago to carry a 1-0 win into Turin tonight. Chelsea have enjoyed a resurgence under Guus Hiddinck, not having lost a game and grinding out results. Juventus, on the other hand have been a real up and down team even thought they sit second in Serie A. Juventus is tough at home. This is the one match that I can really see going to extra time. Juventus needs the one goal and I think they can get it. Tonight I would see a 1-0 to Juventus in regular time and Chelsea nicking in extra time to advance 2-1 on aggregate.
Bayern Munich hosts Sporting Lisbon. Bayern put a spanking on Sporting two weeks ago and carry a massive 5-0 lead on aggregate. The only way Sporting could advance is if they score six goals tonight at Allianz Arena. Yeah, even with Bayern likely to be putting a largely B team on the pitch tonight, I don't see Sporting grabbing this win.
Panathinaikos hosts Villareal. This tie was one of my surprise matches from the first leg. I didn't expect the Greeks to grab a goal in Villareal, but they did and the tie goes back to Athens at a 1-1 on aggregate. The Greeks have historically been very tough at home and I think they hold the advantage in this tie. Villareal's form has been a real up and down this season and I am not sure how they will operate tonight. I think Panathinaikos will take this tie with a 2-1 win tonight to advance 3-2 on aggregate.
Should be lots of good play tonight with some teams needing to chase to win.