Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Champions League draw

I have said before that I cannot wait for the CL knockout stage, starting on February 22nd. After the draw yesterday, I feel like a little child eagerly waiting for Santa Claus, like Romeo waiting for Juliette, like a shipwrecked waiting to be rescued, or like a blossoming tree waiting for summer.
Surely any good football fanatic is counting the days!

What a draw! Three of the games will be between two former winners of the tournament:
Real Madrid-Juventus: Two legendary teams, with some of the best players in the world. A repeat by the way, of the 1998 CL final, won by Real Madrid.
Manchester United-AC Milan: Both teams have an amazing record both at home and in Europe. AC Milan won the CL only two years ago, while Man U won in 1999. Still they have not faced one another in an important game since the 1960s.
FC Porto-Inter: A hard one for the defending champions, who will have to display some of their finest attacking football to upset a strong Inter defence, with a scary attacking force.

And there is more:
Bayern Munich-Arsenal: The South Germans are looking to return to the strength of former times, and look good this season. Arsenal is still searching for success in Europe. With both strong teams, this will be a hard fight which can go to either side.
Barcelona-Chelsea: Two of the teams that are looking best this season, both in their respective leagues as well as in Europe. Both play amazing attacking football, with an awesome striking force. This could surely become a game to go into the history books.
Werder Bremen-Lyon: Two of the surprises this season. None are to be underestimated, and both have the potential of going all the way. Particularly Lyon is having a great season, with a very strong team.
PSV-Monaco: The young and talented PSV side may continue surprising with their good skills. Monaco will have to display some of the force that got them to the final last season. But with their very skilled players, this will also be a game to watch.
Liverpool-Leverkusen: Matches featuring English and German teams are always good for a spirited fight. Liverpool showed a lot of spirit beating Olympiakos, and will have to show the best against a very strong Leverkusen side, that has already shown how to humilliate Real Madrid this season.

I will not come with my predictions just yet, but just say that there will be emptiness while waiting for February 22nd.

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