World Soccer views and news
So are we set for another all-English Champions League final?
There’s still a long way to go to the final in Rome but from what we saw over the first legs of the opening knock-out round of the Champions League a lot of people will be expecting another all-English affair at the Olympic Stadium.
If you take Mark’s dad as an authority, and I’m sure he knows as much as anyone, serie A sides are unlikely still to be challenging but is there anyone else capable of preventing another Premier League tour match?
Manchester United are actually the most precariously placed of the four English sides. A goalless draw away from home is not a great result, as United will doubtless remember from their trip to the Bernabeu in 2000.
Arsenal and Chelsea had better results at home to Italian sides, winning their home legs 1-0 against, respectively, Roma and Juventus, while Liverpool nicked a great result, 1-0 away to Real Madrid thanks to a late Yossi Benayoun header.
Barcelona should probably go through after salvaging a 1-1 draw away to Lyon but their performance in France will have given rise to more doubts from their fans.
Have Pep Guardiola’s team peaked too early?
Of the rest, Bayern Munich hammered out a reminder of their European glory days by winning 5-0 at Sporting and I guess the Bavarians can’t be discounted but I don’t think any of the other teams, from Panathinaikos to Villarreal, Atletico and Porto, would provide too many problems for United and co.
Anything’s possible, but I’d expect all four English teams to make it through to the quarter-finals and from there, who knows?
But let me know if you think I’m wrong. My predictions usually are…
Kevin Fylan, London
PHOTO: Liverpool’s Yossi Benayoun celebrates his goal during their Champions League win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, Feb. 25, 2009. REUTERS/Juan Medina