10 April 2006

CL quarters roundup

Okay, Blogger, I guess I didn't really want to upload a picture anyway. Gah. Will deal with that later, when it's less a Monday after I got no sleep. So what I opened this window to talk about was the Champions League quarterfinals. My prediction ratio has gotten progressively worse -- five of eight for the round of 16, two of four now. Ick. However, this time I was happy to be wrong in both cases, so it's good.

Tuesday's matches:
Milan/Lyon -- So apparently I was wrong, and Lyon aren't going to win it all. I can't really say that Milan deserved this win, though; Inzaghi's great at poaching goals, but the run of play in the first half was definitely in favor of Lyon. They just lost their concentration for the last few minutes, which is something you can't really afford to do when you're playing a team with Shevchenko on it. Overall, though, this was a really good game, and I'm glad I caught it live. Milan seem to have learned something about dramatic comebacks from playing Liverpool last season; they may have left Dida traumatized for life, though, since he was lucky not to ship more goals than he did. Only poor finishing on the part of Lyon's strikers prevented this from being 3-1 to them. I was kinda cheering for Lyon here, just because I don't like to be proved wrong, but I'm just as happy for Milan to go through. Maybe happier, actually. As much as I get amusement from Lyon having a player who goes by "Fred," I get a lot more joy out of watching Sheva and Kaka run around and jump on each other. (What? I'm not made of stone here, people.)

Villarreal/Inter -- Inter should have won this, I agree. However, I don't think attacking the players at the airport will make them want to do better, guys. ESPN didn't have this live, so I didn't see any of it -- I just kept a close eye on the Gamecast, and prayed for the away goals rule to work its magic. I'm not a huge Villarreal fan, but I was really hoping that all three Italian teams wouldn't make it through, and they obliged me. It's nothing really specific against Inter; I just can't seem to care about most Italian teams, and Inter seem like the archetypal Italian side to me. Too defensive by half. Besides, it's always fun when the underdogs pull off a surprise. Having two underdogs (these guys and Arsenal) make it to the semis is sort of an embarrassment of riches, but I am really not complaining. I think Villarreal are out in the next round, but I've been saying that for a while now, and they've shown surprising resilience.

Wednesday's matches:
Barca/Benfica -- And finally, normal service is resumed. Not that I don't like Benfica . . . oh, wait. I totally don't like Benfica. Who knocks the reigning champions out? Lame. I was really surprised when the first leg of this ended scoreless, but Barca seem to have found their footing in this second leg, and Benfica could only hold out so long against two of the three best players in the world. (I've somehow developed a bizarre affection for Ronaldinho. It's maybe because of the Nike ads, but it was developing before that. I can't even explain it, but I'm worried about myself.) This is another one ESPN didn't oblige me by showing, so I don't have a lot to say about it, except that I'm glad that Benfica aren't going any further. They didn't deserve to go as far as they did. Not that I'm bitter. Barcelona are completely the favorites now, but I'm definitely not discounting the winner of the other semi.

Arsenal/Juventus -- I'm especially not discounting the winner of the other semi if it's Arsenal. I'm really surprised by how completely Juve did not show up to these games. After the first leg, they had a battle to make it through, but it was definitely doable. Not if you don't score, though, and they just couldn't get it done. Lehmann had some decent saves, but on the whole, Arsenal were just not tested that much. They pretty much conceded the midfield battle early on. Arsenal didn't try incredibly hard to score on the second leg; there were some good shots, and Henry (or maybe Fabregas) went on a great run at the end that could've easily been a goal. (I realize Henry and Fabregas look nothing alike, but it's been a few days since I watched the match, and studying for Con Law has taken up that room in my brain.) Arsenal just had to hold on to their lead from the first leg, and Juve never really looked like scoring, especially not after they lost Nedved. (A note on that: dear ESPN commentators, please decide if it's Nyed-ved or Ned-vyed. Stick with one.) This wasn't quite as thrilling as the Milan/Lyon game, or the first leg of this tie, but I was really happy to see Le Arse make it through.

So now I'm saying the final will be Arsenal and Barcelona. And I'm picking Arsenal to win it all. They're totally the new Liverpool.

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