With most games fairly nicely poised from the first legs a fortnight ago, all remaining 16 teams certainly fancied their chances at advancing into the last 8 of the most prestigious club tournament in the world. With Liverpool’s return match against Inter Milan postponed until next week (to save the pitch in the San Siro hosting two games back to back) four English teams strutted their stuff against the very best Europe has to offer, and despite Celtic losing to 2006 champions Barcelona, all four can be very proud of their week’s work.
Having now said goodbye to defending champions AC Milan, as well as historical powerhouses Real Madrid, the door is wide open for any of the remaining sides to show us just what they’ve got. Let’s try to avoid a repeat of last year’s semi-finals though; watching three English essentially all capitulate against Milan was pretty dull to say the least, but with the likes of Barcelona and Roma looking ominously back to their best, the rest of the competition should be very interesting indeed…
As ever, for goals and extended highlights check out our good friends over at 101 Great Goals.
We start of course in
Buoyed by the last minute equalizer in
Having lost 3 – 2 at home in the round’s first leg, Celtic were always going to need a miracle to turn over
In perhaps the surprise Game of the Round,
Chelsea and Olympiakos always looked like a bit of a mismatch on paper, and having ground out a goalless draw a fortnight ago in
To the famous Bernabeu then, where nine-time winners Real Madrid faced an impressive Roma side who had come out 2 – 1 winners on their home soil two weeks previously. From kick-off Roma were on top, dominating possession and creating serious problems down both
Without doubt the least exciting tie of the round on paper, Porto and Schalke certainly both had a real go in Portugal, with the 2004 Champions needing to score at least one to level the 1 – 0 deficit from the first leg. The Portuguese side attacked with flair and intent, but found in their way a goalkeeper who was on absolutely top form. Manuel Neuer was called on almost every other minute, and produced one of the best saves you will see this year to acrobatically block a point blank Tarik Sektioui header just before the hour mark. As the clock ticked down Schalke had chances too, but seemed content that it was going to end in the stalemate which would be enough to send them through to the unchartered territory of the quarter-finals. Just 7 minutes from the end though, Argentinian star Lisandro Lopes picked up the ball on the edge of the Schalke box, turned sharply, and unleashed a wonder-strike into the far top right corner of Neuer’s net to send the game into extra-time. 10 man Porto (Jorge Fucile was red carded for a groin-high slide tackle in the 80th minute) looked shattered, but continued to press, with Neuer forced into another fantastic save in the 102nd minute when Queresma found himself one-on-one with the young German keeper. Asamoah came closest for the visitors when he fired a curling shot just over in the second period of extra-time, but the inevitability of penalties could not be shaken. As a German team, Schalke were obviously successful, with Neuer once again the hero as he defied physics to keep out Lopes’ deciding spotkick.
So who’s your money on to win now then? This is how the experts (and by that I mean Bet365.com) see it:
Arsenal – 5/1
Roma – 10/1
Schalke – 25/1
Fenerbahce – 33/1
You can’t help but feel that an English winner is more than likely this year, especially if