The names have been read out loud. The highly anticipated results for the draw of the Round of 16 for the UEFA Champions League 2010-11 edition have finally been unearthed.
While the list has pleased most, it has raised a cause for concern for some. This slideshow provides a very brief preview of each fixture that will take place over two legs in the months of February and March during 2011.
Team-1: AS Roma (Italy)
Manager: Claudio Ranieri (Italy)
Team-2: Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
Manager: Mircea Lucescu (Romania)
Crux of the matter: Claudio Ranieri must be a happy man. His team is not in the best of the shapes and he could not have asked for a lesser experienced team to contest with at this stage.
Having said that, the master Italian would be in no mood to rule out the current Ukrainian league leaders and former UEFA Cup champions.
Key battle to watch out for: Daniele De Rossi vs. Eduardo da Silva in the midfield.
Predicted success rate: AS Roma 7/10
Shakhtar Donetsk: 3/10
Team-1: AC Milan (Italy)
Manager: Massimillano Allegri (Italy)
Team-2: Tottenham Hotspur (England)
Manager: Harry Redknapp (England)
Crux of the matter: This one promises to be a mouth-watering clash to say the least.
Although Redkanpp’s Spurs are fairly new in the competition when compared to the traditional old horses AC Milan, the recent rise in their form and the synchronous decline in the Rossoneri prodigies can be equated to this probably being the most intense of the matches in the second round.
Mind games may start to come into play well before the grounds are actually held by the teams – this one will surely get the fans bite their nails until the end.
Key battle to watch out for: Gareth Bale vs. Kevin Prince Boetang on the left flank.
Predicted success rate: AC Milan 6/10
Tottenham Hotspur 4/10
Team-1: Valencia CF (Spain)
Manager: Unai Emery (Spain)
Team-2: Schalke 04 (Germany)
Manager: Felix Magath (Germany)
Crux of the matter: Valencia would have been happier of the two teams as soon as the news was read out by the UEFA officials. Undoubtedly, the Spanish outfit is superior on both physical and tactical strengths.
The Germans however, having been slumped into the bottom half of the Bundesliga table would be low on confidence to read a superior opponent’s name on the other side of theirs.
They would heavily rely on the Madrid legend Raul to translate his immense experience into club’s progress to the next stage by outclassing the Spanish side.
Key battle to watch out for: Miguel Monteiro vs. Klass Jan Huntellar in Valencia’s defensive third.
Predicted success rate: Valencia 8/10
Schalke 04 2/10
Team-1: Inter (Italy)
Manager: Rafa Benitez (Spain)
Team-2: Bayern Munich (Germany)
Manager: Louis van Gaal (Netherlands)
Crux of the matter: A déjà vu of Santiago Bernabeu when the two European giants had clashed in last year’s Champions League final where the former had reigned supreme.
Co-incidentally, the first half of the new season has not remained kind to either of the teams as they both have remained off colours in their respective domestic leagues.
However, both teams boast of highly qualified and well recognised faces in their ranks who have been there and done that time and again. Both the managers understand the need of the hour and would leave no stone unturned to progress.
Key battle to watch out for: Esteban Cambiasso vs. Mark van Bommel in the midfield.
Predicted success rate: Inter 5/10
Bayern Munich 5/10
Team-1: Olympique Lyon (France)
Manager: Claude Paul (France)
Team-2: Real Madrid (Spain)
Manager: Jose Mourinho (Portugal)
Crux of the matter: Another déjà vu of the 2009-10 season. The French outfit had shocked the world by dismissing out Europe’s most successful club 2-1 on aggregate – something that turned out to be a major catalyst in the untimely sacking of Madrid’s then manager Manuel Pellegrini.
This time around, Los Blancos appear to be an overhauled unit under arguably world’s most percipient manager at their disposal. Moreover, The French team Lyon are falling on their form after their topsy-turvy affair throughout in the current edition of Ligue 1.
The fact file suggest Real Madrid have failed to go past this round for as long as last six seasons and it would be interesting to see if Mourinho’s men break this jinx by outclassing the team that had showed them the exit door the last time.
Key battle to watch out for: Michel Bastos vs. Cristiano Ronaldo on the left flank.
Predicted success rate: Lyon 2/10
Real Madrid 8/10
Team-1: Arsenal (England)
Manager: Arsene Wenger (France)
Team-2: FC Barcelona (Spain)
Manager: Josep Guardiola (Spain)
Crux of the matter: This one completed the perfect three for the recaps of last season. Although the two European powerhouses had faced each other at a higher stage in the competition, they looked far apart in terms of competence. This time around too, the gulf in talent and skills is likely to reappear as the London giants Arsenal face the arguably the best club team of all time, FC Barcelona.
Arsenal coach Wenger had suffered a humiliation in the quarter final during his previous meeting with Josep Guardiola and he would be much charged up to settle the score with the Spanish.
In Samir Nasri, Arsenal have found a potential threat to cause disturbances in the Barcelona midfield. Nasri being a prospect that can anticipate and break Barcelona’s never ending spree of precision one-touch play, Arsenal may fare better than the last season.
However, Barcelona would not exactly be a bothered lot and all they need to do is, nothing special. They do these things week in, week out.
Another aspect that makes this clash so special is Arsenal icon Cesc Fabregas’ desire and inclination to play for the Catalan outfit. He scored against his dream club last time around; it would be interesting to see how he does against them probably for one last time before joining them.
Key battle to watch out for: Samir Nasri vs. Sergio Busquets in the Barcelona half of the midfield.
Predicted success rate: Arsenal FC 2/10
FC Barcelona 8/10
Team-1: Olympique Marseille (France)
Manager: Didier Deschamps (France)
Team-2: Manchester United (England)
Manager: Alex Ferguson (Scotland)
Crux of the matter: Manchester United’s will be the happier dressing room to see the results of the draw. It’s been some time since Ferguson’s men failed to go past this stage in the competition and it seems it won’t ask much of them to carry the tradition forward.
Olympique Marseille, the reigning champions of France’s domestic league have this season been for from convincing. During the group stages, the latest triumph of English champions should boost their morals but Ferguson’s experience to deal with the knock-outs would prove handy enough to turn the table into the Red Devils’ favour.
It looks like the world cup winning French skipper Didier Deschamps will have to wait for some more time to win the champions league being in the manager’s seat.
Key battles to watch out for: Lucho Gonzales vs. Paul Scholes in the midfield.
Predicted success rate: Olympique Marseille 1/10
Manchester United 9/10
Team-1: FC Copenhagen (Denmark)
Manager: Stale Solbakken (Norway)
Team-2: Chelsea FC (England)
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti (Italy)
Crux of the matter: A year ago, Carlo Ancelotti was a highly disappointed manager to see his team being diced against the arguably the best side in Europe. This time, he should be the happiest one to see the Londoners being put against the least experienced of the remaining lot.
Given the current dismal run of form Chelsea are going through, it would have asked too much of Ancelotti, had they been destined to face an opposition of equal propositions.
The Danish side on the other hand, have already achieved much more than anticipated and should be raring to go at a stage that was never touched before by any set of players donning the team’s colours.
Key battles to watch out for: Martin Vingaard vs. Michael Essien in the Copenhagen half of the midfield.
Predicted success rate: FC Copenhagen 1/10
Chelsea FC 9/10
Below listed are the eight teams carrying higher likeliness to make it to the next round
1. AS Roma
2. AC Milan
3. Valencia CF
4. Bayern Munich
5. Real Madrid
7. Manchester United
8. Chelsea FC