(Photo via worldfootball.net)
In a week where there was no premier league games going on, I thought I would take a chance to talk about the premier league teams playing in European competitions rather than about the FA cup matches from the weekend.
There are currently three teams in the Champions League: Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City. Last week, Chelsea played Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in the first leg. It was a hard fought game that Chelsea ended up losing 1-2. Had Chelsea taken their chances early on in the game, it would have been a completely different result. Now, if you aren’t familiar with Chelsea or PSG, then you may not know that they have played each other in the knockout stages of this competition each of the last two years. Considering the fact that the winner of the first leg has yet to move on to the next round in each of the last two years, you would be foolish to count Chelsea out.
Next, Manchester City plays Dynamo Kiev this week on Wednesday. Dynamo Kiev is one of the top teams from Ukraine with very little success in the Champions League in their recent past. Manchester City has been known for being relatively poor in European competitions over the last few years. Despite this, with City resting many of their key players over the weekend in their FA cup match, there can only be one winner this week. I like Man City to travel to Ukraine and win 3-0 in the first leg.
Finally, the match-up I am looking forward to most in the Champions League this week is seeing Arsenal match-up on Tuesday against the best team in the world and the reigning Champions League winners, Barcelona. You don’t even need to follow soccer to know that Barcelona has the best three players in the world in Neymar, Lionel Messi, and (my personal favorite) Luis Suarez. Barcelona over the past year has been almost unstoppable. Their fans have had the luxury to watch games not questioning whether they would lose, but rather how much they will win by. I can see this game going a few different ways, but one thing that will happen is that Barcelona will have about 75% possession throughout the 90 minutes. With Arsenal not being the greatest defending team, I like Barcelona to travel to London and win 3-1, with Suarez to score a brace.
On Thursday, the Premier League teams in action will be Manchester United, Tottenham, and Liverpool. First, Manchester United will be playing their second leg at home against FC Midtjylland. After a shocking 2-1 loss in the first leg, Man U will need to put in a much better performance than what they’ve been producing almost all season. I think that Man U will scrap together another poor performance, but somehow win 1-0 and go through to the next round thanks to the away goal advantage.
Next, Tottenham plays their second leg against Fiorentina at home after a 1-1 draw last week in Italy. Being one of the few who picked Tottenham to win the Premier League back in early December, I would like to see them lose due to the simple fact that I think it will increase their chances only focusing on the League. However, I think Tottenham has too much quality and depth, plus a great young coach in Mauricio Pochettino, to lose this game. I see Tottenham winning this 2-0 in London and moving on to the round of 16.
Lastly, my favorite team, Liverpool, will face off against FC Augsburg in the second leg after a poor performance, on Liverpool’s part, in the first leg, resulting in a 0-0 draw. The most interesting thing about this game is the decisions manager Jürgen Klopp will make on the starting lineup. Liverpool will surely be having their eye on Sunday’s Capital One Cup Final, looking to get their first trophy since 2012. With Klopp’s comments on admitting the fact that Liverpool’s best chance to make it into the Champions League next year is to win Europa league, I will expect a very strong team on Thursday and for Liverpool to win 2-0 in another step forward for the new revolution happening under Klopp.
– J. Barras