Cham­pi­ons League meet­ing of Eng­land’s big guns hard to call

Bray People - - OPINION -

FRI­DAY’S Cham­pi­ons League draw threw up some tan­ta­lis­ing con­tests, with the clash of Premier League duo Chelsea and Man United un­ques­tion­ably the most in­trigu­ing of the four quar­ter-fi­nals.

Chelsea have been in­fe­rior to Man United for much of the sea­son but they have re­dis­cov­ered a bit of their old spark in re­cent weeks and the Red Devils have been plagued by in­juries, par­tic­u­larly in de­fence.

How­ever, with Chelsea’s star-stud­ded strike force out of sorts it’s hard to see where the goals will come from. None of the Stam­ford Bridge trio of Fer­nando Tor­res, Ni­co­las Anelka and Di­dier Drogba seems ca­pa­ble of hit­ting a cow’s arse with a banjo at the mo­ment so they could de­pend on goals from the resur­gent Frank Lam­pard or even de­fend­ers John Terry or new-found cult hero David Luiz.

It’s a real tough one to call but if United get one or two of their reg­u­lar de­fend­ers back, their front­men look bet­ter equipped and in bet­ter form to take ad­van­tage. How­ever, if Tor­res, Drogba and Anelka are fir­ing on all cylin­ders by then the tide could turn in Chelsea’s favour.

Tot­ten­ham got a dream tie when they were paired with the competition’s most suc­cess­ful side, Real Madrid. It’s a glam­ourous fix­ture but also one Harry Red­knapp’s men are ca­pa­ble of win­ning. The real down side for Spurs though, is if they do man­age to top­ple Jose Mour­inho’s side, Barcelona would then lie in wait should they come through as ex­pected against Shak­tar Donetsk, and that would surely be a bridge too far for the Lon­don­ers.

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo is a doubt for the quar­ter-fi­nal, hav­ing been taken off af­ter 73 min­utes of the 2-1 derby win over Ath­letico Madrid, and if the Por­tuguese winger did miss out it would be a huge boost to Tot­ten­ham.

Spurs have a good chance, par­tic­u­lar- ly if Ron­aldo is side­lined, but if pushed ‘In­side Right’ would have to plump for Real Madrid to just shade it and set up a mouth-wa­ter­ing El Cla­sico semi-fi­nal against Barcelona.

Cham­pi­ons In­ter Mi­lan have been drawn against Schalke af­ter their dra­matic win over Bay­ern Mu­nich and should have enough to move a step closer to de­fend­ing their il­lus­tri­ous crown.

That would leave us with Barcelona ver­sus Real Madrid in one semi-fi­nal and Man United against In­ter Mi­lan in the other.

Barcelona will have too much fire­power for their Span­ish coun­ter­parts, while de­spite the ap­par­ent de­cline in stan­dards in the Ital­ian league re­cently, In­ter might just have enough to halt a Man United side that have only im­pressed spo­rad­i­cally this sea­son.

Who­ever gets to the fi­nal would in all like­li­hood strug­gle to con­tain Barcelona. Man United wouldn’t be able to live with their one-touch pass­ing game and light­en­ing surely can’t strike for In­ter Mi­lan.

Of all the quar­ter-fi­nal­ists, Chelsea would prob­a­bly have the best chance of shock­ing Barcelona and they could try to out­mus­cle the Cata­lan gi­ants.

There is a chink of light for the oth­ers who are try­ing to halt the Barcelona charge; they’ve been com­pletely dom­i­nat­ing teams but fail­ing to kill them off in re­cent games. Against Arse­nal they owned the ball for most of the tie but in the end Nick­las Bendt­ner had a de­cent chance to send them pack­ing.

Sim­i­larly, on Satur­day night they com­pletely over­ran Getafe for most of the game but af­ter con­ced­ing an 88th minute goal were left cling­ing on for a vic­tory that should have been well and truly in the bag by half-time.

A glim­mer of hope for the other con­tenders, but a faint one.

Wayne Rooney of Manch­ester United closes in on Chelsea’s John Terry dur­ing their re­cent Premier League meet­ing.

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