Champions League Semi finals Review

Brian RhodesSenior Analyst IApril 28, 2009

With the Champions League semi finals almost upon us, I thought it would be interesting to get the views of some of our B/R colleagues on the games and the big matchups.

I initially contacted one member from each of the teams in the semi finals' B/R community.

Arsenal: Maire, Barcelona: Jose, Chelsea: Alan*, Manchester United: Yoosof

As members will know, these individuals have a keen interest in their respective clubs and are respected members of B/R and their clubs' communities.

* Unfortunately, Alan was a bit of a slacker and failed to return responses to my questions, so I have made stuff up for Chelsea as I see it.



How do you think you will do in the semifinal?

I think Arsenal can do well. At the end of the day the pressure is on Manchester United, as the expectation is that they will go through. There is pressure on Arsenal, of course, but that mainly comes from the lack of success in recent years.

Personally, I think I may have a heart attack.


Do you think the first leg at Old Trafford is more important than the second leg at home?

The first leg is at Old Trafford, and this is to Arsenal's benefit. The majority will say they like playing away from home first. Get that all-important away goal and you know what is needed at home to go through.

If Arsenal can get an away goal and come away from Old Trafford with either a draw or one-goal defeat, I'll be happy enough.


Who will be the influential players for Arsenal and for Manchester United?

The usual suspects will be looked to at either side. For Arsenal there is Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Theo Walcott, who I hope can give Patrice Evra a torrid time. Then for United you have the back two of Ferdinand and Vidic, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, and Ronaldo.

I think key players for Arsenal will be those that may be overlooked. Kolo Toure will probably be paired with Djourou, so he has to command that area. Young Gibbs is one to watch going forward and can cross a ball and take a shot and is somewhat of an unknown to United.

Then in midfield there is Alex Song, who will have to get stuck in and win every ball. However, I think Samir Nasri can be huge for Arsenal. He was immense against Boro and proved he can tackle as well as set up and score. He has already scored two against United, and a few more on Wednesday wouldn't go amiss.


What do you think will Arsene Wenger be telling the Arsenal players before kick off?

Apparently he doesn't talk much before kick off. I am worried about his team selection more so than what he might say.

However, I think he will tell Arsenal to try to be tighter at the back than what they have been, but to play our own game too. Manchester United like to play football, and that suits Arsenal down to the ground as proved at the Emirates.

I hope he tells Adebayor to stay onside.


How do you think the other semifinal will go?

I think it will be a great tie. Chelsea are no mug, and neither is their manager. I am looking forward to seeing it and how Chelsea hope to cope with Messi, Henry, Eto'o, Xavi, and Iniesta.

I don't see Barcelona walking over Chelsea by any means, but I think the Spanish side have enough to just get through.


If Arsenal don't win the final, who do you think will?

If Arsenal don't win, then I hope it goes to Barcelona (as long as they don't beat us in the final again) mainly because of their style of football and because I don't want either of the other two English sides to win.

Also, Thierry Henry deserves it.



How do you think you will do in the semifinal?

Personally, I expect some very close matches. This semifinal will definitely be decided with a great play by one of the star players.

Barça has a bigger advantage in that branch, but Chelsea showed that they have a huge will against Liverpool after coming back from a loss three times.

Nevertheless, I rely on Messi's quick feet and Eto'o's and Henry's quickness in the box to solve this great semifinal.

Talk what you want about Drogba, but Barça's defense is great, and come on, Barça has three players that are miles above him, sorry.

My guess: Barça goes through with a slight advantage on aggregate.


Do you think the first game at the Camp Nou is more important than the away leg at Stamford Bridge?

The first leg at Camp Nou will be huge! With "Barcelonistas" going crazy all over and tickets being sold like hot cupcakes, you can imagine what kind of support you'll be seeing ahead of tonight's match.

Winning this first leg will give Barça a huge boost for Stamford Bridge, and do not forget that Barça is playing Real in the coming match day, so it's very important to seal the match up right in the first leg.


Who will be the influential players for Barcelona and for Chelsea?


Puyol: The Captain and defensive leader.
Xavi: The midfield general and a huge boost for the team's offense.
Henry/Eto'o: Deadly strikers.
Messi: The Genius!
Iniesta: A fantastic player that can organize the game from midfield and attack at the same time!


Lampard: Midfield general, unarguably the best pure CM that there is out there.
Drogba: A great striker with a huge strength.
Bosingwa: Very fast guy with great defensive skills; still, he'll never mark Messi.
Terry: Same as Puyol.


What do you think will Josep Guardiola be telling the Barcelona players before kick off?

"Come on guys, this is your chance to go down as one of the great teams in European football, and me, you, and everyone else know that if you play your hearts out, then you can do anything!"


How do you think the other semifinal will go?

That's a tough question. Man Utd have a better chance, since they have more experience with playing under pressure. Of course this argument is arguable, but it can make the difference. Of course, Man's roster is better when compared to Arsenal's. Still, Man Utd were almost going to get kicked out against Porto. Nevertheless, United's through!


If Barcelona don't win the final, who do you think will?

My inner blaugrana can't process the question. Seriously, Barça is the favorite, but if they go down, Chelsea will win it.



How do you think you will do in the semifinal?

I think it will be a tight game with a single goal separating the two team after both legs.


Do you think the second leg at the Camp Nou is more important than the first leg at Stamford Bridge?

It's important to put a stamp on the first leg if you are at home, but more that you do not concede an away goal.


Who will be the influential players for Chelsea and Barcelona?

Lampard, Terry, Cech, and Bosingwa. If these four have good games, Chelsea invariably have a good game. If one of them runs cool, then the team as a whole runs cool.

For Barcelona the obvious choices are Henry, Eto'o, and Messi. Barcelona have possibly the most gifted forward line of any of the four semifinalists this season.


What do you think Guus Hiddink will be telling the Chelsea players before kick off?

Wull ladz, I zinc dat I vill b' az "sic aas a parroot" if ve doont git a vin, boot "oova de moon" if ve vin.


How do you think the other semifinal will go?

Arsenal are a very gifted young side, but Manchester United should be too strong for them over two legs.


If Chelsea don't win the final, who do you think will?

Manchester United.


Manchester United

How do you think you will do in the semifinal?

Me? Well, I'll definitely score at least 10 goals, for sure. But seriously, I think Manchester United will go through. They just have too many quality players for the Gunners to handle, plus the team has more experience at this stage of the Champions League than Arsenal.


Do you think the first leg at Old Trafford is more important than the second leg at the Emirates?

The first leg at Old Trafford is important because if we can win at home, without conceding, then the tie is ours. If we can win 2-0, it's game over. Arsenal need away goals, but I can't see them getting any at OT.


Who will be the influential players for Manchester United and Arsenal?

Take Arshavin out of the equation. Fabregas is key, and of course Adebayor will pose a threat, but he should be neutralised by the rock solid duo of Rio and Vida (Ferdinand and Vidic). Arsenal don't have RVP do they for this game? Without him they definitely don't seem as strong. I think the Gunners will miss him badly against United.


What do you think Sir Alex Ferguson will be telling the Manchester United players before kick off?

Play like you know you can, and you'll be fine.


How do you think the other semifinal will go?

Barca will annihilate Chelsea. Bosingwa has no chance marking Lionel Messi.


If Manchester United don't win the final, who do you think will?

Barcelona, without a shadow of a doubt.