Friday, December 21, 2007

Champions League Draw: Knockout Round-of-16

Now it gets good.

The Champions League round-of-16 draw is out and there are some juicy ties awaiting us in February. I'll do a separate post on England's teams. For now, here's a look at the rest of the draw:

Roma-Real Madrid: Roma is the team no one wants to face. Roma is cursed with some odd luck in terms of teams it draws. In Serie A, it's looking up at Inter Milan, which is running away with the Scudetto with 40 points and a seven-point lead over Roma. In its the group stage, Roma ran into Manchester United, which is on an absolute tear and has not lost a game in three months. Francesco Totti has seven goals this season and is among the leaders in Italy. This should be the tie to watch. Real leads La Liga by two points over Barcelona, whom it plays Sunday in the Spanish classico. Real has been nothing if not consistent this season and both teams figure to have their hands full in this tie.

Celtic-Barcelona: Ho-hum, Celtic leads the Scottish Premier League, what else is new? If you dont' follow Celtic or Rangers, what's the interest in Scottish football? Someone enlighten me, please? Either way, Celtic held off Benfica for second in its group and fell two points short of AC Milan. Barcelona may not have Leo Messi back in time for this tie, which could draw these two closer. Barcelona did not lose during the group stage and beat back Lyon to win by four points.

Schalke 04-F.C. Porto: How odd that Germany's best hope for European silverware, heck Germany's best team, is in the UEFA Cup? Schalke has the Bundesliga's top scorer in Kevin Kuranyi and is in fifth right now, six points back of Bayern Munich. Porto is a tall order indeed. Porto has not lost in Portugal and nicked Liverpool by a point to win its group. Porto has Lucho Gonzalez and Lisandro Lopez, a far cry from the Mourinho days, but still formidable.

Fenerbache-Sevilla: Sevilla, two-time UEFA Cup winners, are after the big prize in Europe this team. The Spanish side is strong right up the middle with Luis Fabiano the leading scorer in Spain, Sergio Duda in midfield and Morgan De Sanctis at stopper. Sevilla beat Arsenal in its group. The Turks, meanwhile, were second to Inter Milan and are realtive newcomers to the knockout stages.

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