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UEFA Champions League: Reviewing the Clubs on Their First-Leg Performances

Andrew JordanSenior Writer IFebruary 23, 2012

UEFA Champions League: Reviewing the Clubs on Their First-Leg Performances

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    UEFA Champions League play once again returned this past week for the eight remaining sides in the competition, a week after play returned for eight other sides in the competition.

    For these eight sides, there were some interesting storylines that took place. We saw CSKA Moscow get saved at the death and Chelsea get thumped in Naples, along with a stunning late winner from Basel.

    Now that the first leg has been completed, here are my reviews of the eight sides that played in the Champions League this past week, and whether I see that side reaching the knockout stage.

Basel

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    Result of First Leg: FC Basel 1, Bayern Munich 0

    Best Player of First Leg: Yann Sommer

    Recap of First Leg: This tie was considered to be a virtual lock for Bayern Munich, yet Basel are in position to become giant slayers again after a strong 1-0 win in Switzerland.

    Basel were the dominant side in this tie and did deserve to get that late winner through Valentin Stocker.

    What's needed to reach the quarterfinals: Basel will now need to win at the Allianz Arena, which is one of the toughest places for any away side to win at in European competition. 

    Yet Basel have already achieved a result at Old Trafford during this season's Champions League, and are certainly capable of getting another result. Basel will need an away goal and to continue to play attacking football.

Bayern Munich

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    Result of First Leg: FC Basel 1, Bayern Munich 0

    Best Player of First Leg: Manuel Neuer

    Recap of First Leg: Bayern have cooled off since their amazing start to this season. Bayern have now hit a low in their season after losing 1-0 at Basel.

    Bayern did not play their best football in this loss and were lucky that they did not lose by two or three goals.

    What's needed to reach the quarterfinals: Bayern have a strong reputation of playing strong matches at the Allianz Arena, and will once again need a great performance in order to reach the quarterfinals.

    That means playing a strong overall match, especially in the midfield due to the strong amount of creativity that was displayed there by Basel in the first leg.

    Bayern also need to play a stronger defensive match. They cannot afford to give up an away goal, which means the German side will need three goals in order to advance.

Chelsea

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    Result of First Leg: Napoli 3, Chelsea 1

    Best Player of First Leg: Juan Mata

    Recap of First Leg: Chelsea went into this match knowing that they were not starting either John Terry and Ashley Cole, and they put up a match that they will likely want to forget.

    Chelsea fell apart after Juan Mata's goal, conceding three times due in large part to some bad defending. With the loss, Chelsea are not looking strong knowing that they will need at least two (if not more) goals in order to advance to the quarterfinals.

    What's needed to reach the quarterfinals: Chelsea will need to play their best match of the season at Stamford Bridge in the second leg. Chelsea's offense will need to continue with some of the creativity that they displayed in the first leg.

    Chelsea's defensive effort will need to be much stronger and they cannot allow Napoli to create another offensive show in the back, which will be hard with no John Terry in the lineup.

CSKA Moscow

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    Result of First Leg: CSKA Moscow 1, Real Madrid 1

    Best Player of First Leg: Pontus Wernbloom

    Recap of First Leg: CSKA Moscow played their first match of the year against Real Madrid after a strong group-stage performance, and were able to keep up their unbeaten six-match run against Spanish competition in Europe.

    CSKA got their goal at the death through Wembloom to give the Russian side a fighting chance in this second leg.

    What's needed to reach the quarterfinals: CSKA Moscow have never lost to a Spanish opponent in the Champions League (three wins and three draws), but that record will be hard to keep up in the second leg.

    The Bernabeu is a tougher stadium to play in than the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, yet CSKA will need an inspiring performance again from their attack that should be headed by Keisuke Honda in order to reach the quarterfinal.

Inter Milan

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    Result of First Leg: Marseille 1, Inter Milan 0

    Best Player of First Leg: Esteban Cambiasso 

    Recap of First Leg: Inter Milan have hoped to continue Serie A's strong form in the Champions League, yet they suffered a late 1-0 loss at Marseile that will harm Inter's chances of advancing.

    Inter did not put together a performance that deserved a win, and will need to improve on that in order to reach the quarterfinals.

    What's needed to reach the quarterfinals: Inter Milan will need a strong offensive effort that sees a strong attacking emphasis. Inter's attack was by no means great, yet they should improve on their effort in the second leg.

    Inter have lost five times at home this season in Serie A and also lost at home to Trabzonspor in the group stage. Inter have to get out of their poor funk at the San Siro and will need a great performance in order to reach the quarterfinals.

Marseille

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    Result of First Leg: Marseille 1, Inter Milan 0

    Best Player of First Leg: Andre Ayew

    Recap of First Leg: Marseille did not play their best match, yet they did get a win thanks to a late winner from Andre Ayew.

    Marseille played a strong match that saw some strong offensive flair, yet they probably deserved against an Inter side that played to Marseille's level.

    What's needed to reach the quarterfinals: The San Siro is a tough place to play, yet Inter have struggled in the past in Europe. Marseille have won in their only match at the San Siro in 2004 in the UEFA Cup and will look to replicate this result.

    Marseille will need another solid defensive effort along with a better offensive output. Marseille have the skills to advance and those skills will need to be in full effect if they are to advance to the quarterfinals.


Napoli

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    Result of First Leg: Napoli 3, Chelsea 1

    Best Player of First Leg: Ezequiel Lavezzi

    Recap of First Leg: Napoli have been a breath of fresh air in this year's edition of the Champions League. Their inspired play and incredible crowd were once again in play against an English opponent with a fantastic 3-1 home victory.

    Napoli got all three goals after going down 1-0 early, and their attacking flair and finishing were something to marvel at in this incredible win.

    What's needed to reach the quarterfinals: Napoli have been stellar throughout this knockout stage, and will be expected to reach the quarterfinals due to their great first leg performance.

    If Napoli's attack replicates their form from the first leg, there is no chance for Chelsea to reach the quarterfinals.

Real Madrid

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    Result of First Leg: CSKA Moscow 1, Real Madrid 1

    Best Player of First Leg: Cristiano Ronaldo

    Recap of First Leg: Real Madrid had to go into a freezing environment in Russia that has a plastic pitch, and were able to still have a great performance.

    Madrid probably should have scored another goal, yet were unable to thanks to a great double save from Sergey Chepchugov in the first half. Yet Madrid will go into the second leg with an all-important lead on away goals.

    What's needed to reach the quarterfinals: Madrid are always one of the best sides in Europe and certainly will be favored to win at the Bernabeu in the second leg. Madrid have overcome their stretch of early eliminations from the Champions League.

    Assuming that Madrid continue their great home form in this tie, they should be able to once again go back to the quarterfinals.

     

    Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan


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