Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Champions League Quarter-finals: March 28

Arsenal 2 - 0 Juventus
I'm off to a stellar start with my predictions once again. Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, apparently was looking in a crystal ball when he decided to sell Patrick Vieira at the end of last season, because last night the former terror of Highbury got taken apart by an 18-year-old muppet from Spain. And the rest of the Juventus team was equally useless. That's the thing about playing against a bunch of youngsters: they can run you into the ground, like Arsenal did here. It even seems to have rubbed off on Pires and Reyes, who usually spend most of their time falling over and sulking extravagantly.

Arsenal still have a tough game when they head to Turin for the return leg, but the odds are in their favour now, especially with Vieira, Camoranesi and Zebina suspended after they collectively lost the plot in this match. Liverpool managed to keep a clean sheet against Juventus in same fixture last year, and if they can do it then Arsenal should be able to do the same, even with their makeshift back line (at least they don't have Djimi Traore).

Benfica 0 - 0 Barcelona
Raise your hands if you were expecting a scoreless draw. Yeah, me neither. It was fun to watch, though -- very open play, lots of end-to-end stuff, although the possession stats were about 60/40 in favour of Barca in the first half. They should have been up by three or four goals at that point, but they'd missed some gilt-edged chances. Benfica, in contrast, were shooting from 25 or 30 yards out all the time, rather than trying to thread their way through the Barcelona defence -- which you would have thought was a good idea, with Puyol missing and all.

My tape cut out five minutes just after halftime, thanks to my inability to read the TV guide properly, but I'm going to assume the second half was more of the same: Barcelona toying with Benfica but failing to put in any decent shots on goal, Benfica breaking forward to counterattack whenever they could, and the Benfica keeper alternating between moments of brilliance and fits of complete lunacy.

1 comment:

brookster said...

Arsenal ripped Juve apart, it was a joy to watch. I'd totally forgotten that Barca had played until now.

You can get 6-0-6 on the bbc website as a podcast here