This week we have the latest nourishing droplet of our drip-feed Champions League supply and GMF are here to give you the lowdown.
Last week’s round of fixtures did not go so well for one half of England’s participants, as Arsenal were put to the sword in Milan.
However, there were other juicy tit-bits served up to us in the shape of Barcelona’s win at Leverkusen, Lyon edging past the magnificent underdogs Apoel Nicosia and a modern day classic of hapless defending in Zenit’s comeback win over Benfica.
“But what of this week?” GMF hears you say. Well, this week’s rounds, as ever, begins tonight (Tuesday) and concludes tomorrow (Wednesday).
We will begin in chronological order with…
CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid, Luzhniki Stadium, Tuesday Febraury 21, KO: 1700
The standout feature from this tie will almost certainly be the sub-zero temperatures in the famous old stadium – some estimates have gone as low as -10C, which is officially brass monkey weather.
Many have said the Spanish side’s possible lack of resilience to the arctic weather could give CSKA a chance. This perceived elements advantage becomes negated somewhat by the fact that the Russian team has been training in Spain for the past few weeks due to it currently being their off-season.
Their chances seem even slimmer when you consider the fact they have lost three of their last four European home matches and Real have only lost once in 19 Champions League ties, winning the last six.
Ones to watch:
CSKA Moscow – Seydou Doumbia has scored five of CSKA’s nine goals in this year’s competition.
Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo, obviously.
Napoli v Chelsea, San Paolo Stadium, Tuesday February 21, KO: 1945
This is set to be a tense affair with both sides struggling to a degree in their respective league competitions, but Napoli have been labelled exciting underdogs this season due to their counter-attacking style.
Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping his Chelsea side can relieve their current domestic malaise, but he may struggle to find an optimistic mindset when he hears the Blues have won just once in ten games on Italian soil.
It doesn’t get much better either as Napoli haven’t lost at home in Europe since 1994, while no English team has ever triumphed there – Manchester City were beaten in the group stages this year.
Ones to watch:
Chelsea – Didier Drogba has scored four times in his last three Champions League outings.
Napoli – Edinson Cavani has scored every shot he has got on target in the competition.
Marseille v Inter Milan, Stade Velodrome, Wednesday February 22, KO: 1945
The Ligue 1 side made dramatic progression from the group stages after a late rally against Borussia Dortmund and they could have been handed the most unexpected walkover in the last 16.
Inter are having their worse series of results since the mid-50s and looked astonishingly bad in their recent home loss to Bologna. Claudio Ranieri initially sparked a run of wins but, rather surprisingly, since the return of star man Wesley Sneijder, they have slumped once again and are slipping down Serie A.
Meanwhile, Marseille had similar problems at the start if their campaign but have rallied magnificently and they have not tasted defeat since the end of November – their last Champions League home tie against Olympiakos.
Ones to watch:
Marseille – Loic Remy is their top scorer this season has been wowing Europe with some impressive displays.
Inter – Wesley Sneijder has just returned form a significant period on the sidelines and will be looked to for inspiration.
FC Basel v Bayern Munich, St Jakob Park, Wednesday February 22, KO: 1945
On the face of it, this looks like it should be a straightforward win for the Germans. However, just ask Manchester United about the surprises the Swiss team can spring – Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were condemned to the Europa League at the hands of Basel.
Bayern were leading the Bundesliga and scoring record amounts of goals at the start of the season, but this momentum has since waned and they have started to fall behind in the league.
Basel are running away with the Swiss Super League and haven’t lost since the defeat to Benfica at home in mid-October.
Ones to watch:
Basel – Xherdan Shaqiri has already agreed a move to Bayern in the summer and his performances against his prospective employer will be scrutinised greatly.
Bayern – Franck Ribery has recently been playing some of the best football of his career and will be difficult to stop.
Well, there looks to be some intrigue to get your predictive teeth into, though we do have what look like a couple of thrashings in the offing.
Don’t agree? Then comment below with what you think will happen…