Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Barca, Bordeaux Round Out Champions League QF Field

- Not much in the way of surprises on the final day of the Champions League Round of 16 last week. Barcelona quickly put down any thoughts of a Stuttgart upset at Camp Neu. Lionel Messi opened the scoring in the 13th minute then helped set up Pedro Rodriguez' goal 9 minutes later. Messi then added another goal in the second half, and Barca cruised to a 4-0 win. Meanwhile, Bordeaux held off a game Olympiakos squad, winning 2-1 and getting a 3-1 win on the aggregate.

- So YOUR Champions League quarterfinals matchups are:

Lyon v. Bordeaux- Ooo la la! Only one French squad will survive into the semis, but one French squad is guaranteed to be there.

Bayern Munich v. Man U- Bayern struggled against Fiorentina and probably will get steamrolled.

Arsenal v. Barcelona- Arsenal may be the hottest team in Europe right now, so Barca beware.

Inter v. CSKA- Barring a letdown after the monumental win over Chelsea, Mourinho should return to the final 4.

- Last week also saw us paring down the Europa Cup field to 16. The most notable result was Juventus writing the most horrific chapter of its nightmare season by collapsing at Fulham, blowing a 3-1 advantage from the first leg, and losing 4-1 to get knocked out and drawing 2 red cards in the process. American Clint Dempsey had the clinching goal.

- Also in the Europa League, David Villa had a hat trick to earn Valencia's advancement with a 4-4 draw at Werder Bremen. German champs Wolfsburg advanced with a 2-1 win over Rubin Kazan. Atletico Madrid got 2 goals from Sergio Aguero to knock out Sporting Lisbon, and Liverpool saved some face by bouncing back from a 1-0 defeat at Lille to win 3-0 at Anfield with 2 goals from Fernando Torres. So maybe they are not the "sinking ship" that their midfielder Albert Riera (who is being sold to CSKA) says they are.

- The weekend took us back to the domestic leagues, and the races remain tight. Speaking of sinking ships, Chelsea continues to take on water. They followed up the landmark loss to Inter during the week with a disappointing 1-1 draw at Blackburn. Now they are in 3rd place, 4 points out of first, and Carlo Ancelotti is busy batting away suggestions that he not return to Stamford Bridge next year. Man U remains on top after beating Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney scored his 33rd goal of the season, and could have had 34 had he not blown a PK. The loss puts Liverpool in 6th place, 4 points behind Tottenham, who won a tough 2-1 match at Stoke last weekend, for the last Champions League spot. Arsenal continues to stalk the leaders, they are 2 points back and beat West Ham 2-0 on Saturday.

- I dunno should we make a big deal out of La Liga anymore? One team in the Champions League final 8? Real Madrid needs to win this thing to avoid this season being a failure. They conceded the first goal against Sporting Gijon this weekend, but came off the mat to win 3-1 and remain tied for first with Barca. Lionel Messi scored his 3rd, 4th, and 5th goals of the week in the co-leaders 4-2 win at Zaragoza. Mallorca climbed into 4th place in the fight for a CL spot with a 4-1 thumping of Atletico Madrid.

- In Serie A, Mourinho's club may have gotten a huge win in CL play this week, but they're struggling to put away the Scudetto for another year. They managed a 1-1 draw at 4th place Palermo. AC Milan missed a chance to move into first place though, as they too could only get 1 point this weekend, 1-1 at home against Napoli. They trail Inter by 1 point. AS Roma put themselves back into the mix, pulling within 4 points of Inter with a 4-2 win over Udinese that featured a hat trick by Mirko Vucinic.

- Bayern Munich kept the Bundesliga close, losing in league play for the first time since September, 2-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt. They remain on top only because second place Schalke dropped 2 points in a 2-2 draw at Hamburg. Ruud van Nistelrooy scored for Hamburg. He's still playing?

- Ligue 1 should be treated as a big boy league given their showing in the Champions League. Quarterfinalists Bordeaux remained tied for the lead with a 3-1 win over 5th place Lille. Montpellier, who was promoted this season, won't go away though. They are tied for the lead and remain so after a 2-1 win over Valenciennes. Auxerre is in 3rd, just one point back, and Marseille is 3 points out of first in 4th place.

- No strike for MLS. The players caved and won't get free agency, but the season will start on time when Seattle takes on the new Philadelphia Union on Thursday.

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