And then there were four. We knew not all of the British teams could make the cut, but could we manage three semi-finalists for a second consecutive year? The answer for those of you with their heads underground the past couple of days is yes, however some victories were certainly more convincing than others.
As ever we start on Tuesday night then, and at
Those expecting Chelsea to push on and finish the game clearly haven’t realized Avram Grant’s promises of free-flowing attacking football were mere lip-service, and as the game went on, and
Avram Grant has the chance then to do what Jose Mourinho failed to do on two occasions: beat
Crouch had a early snap-shot saved in the second half and in all honesty Arsenal seemed to be shrinking from the challenge, with Fabregas about as anonymous as you’ll have ever seen him. The first big twist came just after the hour, as (who else) Fernando Torres created something out of nothing. The sublime Spaniard latched onto what was essentially a long ball to spin Senderos and fire home a blistering shot into Almunia’s top corner. Anfield went crazy and saluted its latest hero, with Torres’ beaming grin saying it all. Wenger responded instantly however, introducing an injured Robin van Persie and Theo Woolcott, so important to the victory in
For the third season then (baring a miracle that earns them the Premier League crown) Arsenal are trophy-less, despite some world-class players and an admiral ethos to play beautiful football. Unfortunately for Wenger he must acknowledge in the closed season that in this country, that just isn’t enough to succeed. Nor is it enough to buy unproven young talent to nurture rather than perhaps over-spending on successful big names. Senderos has to go after being at fault for the first two Liverpool goals showed once again he’s out of his depth; a more orthodox wide man is needed after Hleb and Rosicky have failed to fill the gulfs still gaping from Pires and Ljundberg’s transfers; another attacking midfielder has to help out Fabregas; crucially though, a proper striker is urgently required as, without van Persie and Eduardo, Bendtner and Adebayor alone have simply not been good enough.
Before kick-off on Wednesday, Old Trafford was perhaps unreasonably expectant of another romp over Roma to equal their 7 – 1 demolition of the Italian side last season.
They showed great spirit however, and after missing the penalty seemed to become even more determined to make a game of it. Their dominant possession continued into the second half, with Marco Cassetti just failing to pounce on a rebound, Mikael Silvestre blocking from Rodrigo Taddei, and van der Sar saving a Juan header that the Brazilian defender probably should’ve done better with. The Italians couldn’t keep this pressure sustained however, and after the hour-mark, the game slowed considerably and United were able to feel comfortable again. Tevez’s lovely headed goal with twenty minutes left on the clock sealed it, but in reality this was Manchester United playing well within themselves. An early Roma goal would’ve made things interesting, but as it was, the game was rather flat, despite a brisk end-to-end first-half that should’ve brought goals for both sides. Roma, and de Rossi especially, will be ruing what could’ve been, but over the two legs undoubtedly the best team won.
Standing in between Manchester United and their first Champions league final in almost ten years are 2006 winners
The killer blow came just before half time though as Bojan’s deflected cross fell at Yaya Toure’s feet for the
With the game all but over three-quarters of the way through, any attacking intent eventually fizzled out, but Barce will need something truly inspirational to even make Manchester United break sweat looking at both teams’ current form. Obviously any team in the world would miss players of Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi’s quality, but overall
Current Odds to Win the Tournament: