Champions League Preview
With the last-16 round of the UEFA Champions League ready to kick off this week, the first leg is promising and might even indicate the prospective semi-finalists. With big names put up against each other, the outcome can’t be predicted with any amount of certainty. Nonetheless,quality football and entertainment for the fans is ensured.
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1. Manchester City vs Barcelona FC: (19:45 local time, 24/02/2015)
These two giants face each other at the Ethihad Stadium, Manchester, in a match which is anticipated to be the most competitive of the other fixtures. Barcelona had been in exceptional form up until the recent game against Malaga, where they lost 1-0. Their strike force of Suarez, Messi and Neymar have been sublime in form. On the other hand, Manchester City went on a rampage against Newcastle defeating them 5-0 at home. Aguero, who has just recovered from injury, is a major threat to any opposition. It would be interesting to see how they cope up against a strong opposition without their star midfielder Yaya Toure.
2. Juventus vs Borrusia Dortmund: (19:45 local time, 24/02/2015)
The Bianconeri face Die Borussen at the Juventus stadium in a game many would have predicted to be one-sided if not for the past few weeks. Dortmud seem to have reached a revival period, bouncing back from the almost-relegated 17th position to 3 convincing wins both home and away, showing great spirit. Juventus, on the contarary, are almost certain to win the league, owing to their consistency. Injury wise, Juventus are spared in comparison with their opponents, whose hope lies with the recovery of their top notch players, Mats Hummels, Ciro Immobile, Erik Durm and Jakub Błaszczykowski, from a flu outbreak. One can expect the match to be nail-biting with German counter-attack vs the typical Italian defence.
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3. Arsenal F.C vs AS Monaco FC: (19:45 local time, 25/02/2015)
Arsene Wegner returns against his club of early years as the Gunners face AS Monaco at the Emirates. The last season Ligue 1st runners up had defeated Arsenal in the Emirates Cup. Both teams seem to be on their good end as they face each other with wins in hands and high confidence. The match would be demanding for either teams as they know each other inside out (Arsenal’s French manager and players ). Monaco would certainly be missing their captain Toulalan, who was suspended. The odds certainly favor the team from London, but without the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Arteta and Debuchy we may witness an upset.
4. Bayer Leverkusen vs Atletico Madrid: (19:45 local time, 25/02/2015)
After losing their first game at home in 19 months, Simeone would be pleased with the draw. With other possible candidates being Arsenal or Manchester City, this might seem like an easy outing. Having not conceded a single goal after the loss by Olympiakos in the group stage, their defense seems impenetrable. Their recent form has been flickering, but with a comprehensive win against Almeria, they come confident and positive. On the other hand, the German team seats itself at a comfortable 3rd position in the league and losing just once at the Bay Arena this Champions League. Atletico are the favourites, if they play a decent game.
edited by Bhavna Rachuri