UEFA Champions League Semifinals: Previewing the Second Legs

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UEFA Champions League Semifinals: Previewing the Second Legs
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The date is April 29, 2009 and the first legs of the UEFA Champions League semifinals have concluded.

The semifinals saw only one goal between the two matches, but that's not to say they were not close.

Here is my analysis of the first leg matches.

 

Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea

My prediction: 1-0, Barcelona.

I was not at all surprised by a 0-0 draw at Barcelona, as I was very much leaning towards that prediction in my last article. In the end I decided that home field advantage was enough to put Barcelona in front.

Barcelona outclassed Chelsea on the pitch in just about every way, they had more chances, almost tripling Chelsea's shots on goal.

The Catalan Giants missed many chances, namely Bojan Kirkic and Samuel Eto'o missing the easiest chances of the match.

However, take nothing away from Petr Cech's brilliance in the match as he kept a clean sheet against the blistering attack of Barcelona.

 

Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

My prediction: 2-1, Manchester United.

Well, I got the difference right, but there was a tad less scoring. In all fairness it could easily have been 2-1. Adebayor missed a golden chance to get Arsenal an away goal and Manchester United missed a host of chances. Specifically, Ronaldo hit the woodwork late in the game that denied him United's second goal.

I'd have to say Manchester United outplayed Arsenal. Their attack was superior and once again Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic absolutely owned their territory.

 

Now for my predictions for the second legs of the Champions League

Chelsea vs. Barcelona (Chelsea is home)

Expect this match to be a very conservative match for Barcelona. They are missing two of their best defenders for this match, Carlos Puyol and Rafa Marquez. The absence of these two players immediately makes Chelsea the favorite.

The last time the Champions League was at Stamford bridge, we saw one of the most thrilling games in Champions League history. I doubt we will get such a spectacle this time around.

My prediction is a 1-1 draw. Lionel Messi puts Barcelona up 1-0 and Chelsea is unable to get the two goals they need for advancement.

Barcelona advances to the Champions League Final on the away goals rule.

 

Manchester United v. Arsenal (Arsenal is home)

This match was a sort of chess match in the first leg. After United scored their first goal, it seemed like Arsenal went into "damage control mode." They dropped back their midfielders and played extremely conservative. In other words, Arsenal had given up this match in hopes of conquering at the Emirates.

Not a terrible strategy, unless your opponent is Manchester United. Just getting a goal that is not handed to you is near impossible against this stout defense.

In the last leg I was certain that Arsenal was a fair match for United and could possibly upset the reigning Champions League Champion. After seeing Arsenal's rather bleak approach I am no longer convinced they can win against United.

This week I predict a clean up by Manchester United as they finish Arsenal with a dominant 2-0 victory. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.

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