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September 15, 2009

Champions League: Matchday 1

champions-league-logo1

We get CL soccer today! After a mildly intriguing third qualifying round dominated by Eduardo’s world-ending flop, we’re actually getting into proper CL action today as four of the groups kick off with the other four to play out tomorrow.

Of course, there are some jaded journalists thinking it’s all a bunch of boring, predictable rubbish, but I’d tend to disagree. Plus, there’s enough evidence out there to suggest that people prefer the lopsidedness of soccer over parity (something about the David/Goliath matches attracting extra attention from casual fans who want to see either a. tons of goals and attacking skill or b. the possibility of a dramatic, epic upset), so I’m rather excited to see these groups, pored over for weeks on end*, finally springing to life.

Some predictions for Tuesday afternoon’s fixtures after the jump.

*not really

Besiktas v. Manchester United (Group B)

What do you get for the English team that has everything? As if the weekend’s result wasn’t disheartening enough for the rest of the league, but they get a lazy trip to the Bosphorus and a chance at three easy points. Fergie showed against Spurs that he can pick-and-mix his midfield depending on the desired tactical result, and I’d expect him to run out a similar collection of defensively-minded middies to grind out a tempo and control possession via the short passing game. Not that you could keep Rooney on a leash for that long anyways…

Despite the swarthy powers of ageless goalie Rustu Recber, The Black Eagles will remain grounded.

Besiktas 0, Manchester United 2

WfL Wolfsburg v. CSKA Moskva (Group B)

Grafite + Dzeko + Martins = Nightmares in Russian (with German subtitles). Hitler could never march on Moscow in the winter, and CSKA will have a hard time making the reverse trip. It doesn’t matter that they have some Brazilians of their own; I fancy the Germans’ attacking dynamism to heil all evening long.

Wolfsburg 3, CSKA 1

Chelsea v. Porto (Group D)

No intrigue whatsoever here. Ancelotti will pound the Portuguese into submission with a steady approach and ankle-biting defense. Hulk brings a fair degree of menace to the Bridge, but it won’t be enough.

Chelsea 2, Porto 1

Olympique Marseille v. AC Milan (Group C)

It’s really tempting to pick a younger, fitter, happier home side, but when that fails, you take the draw. The French are loaded with goalscoring talent (Kone, Niang, Morientes, Brandao, Ben Arfa), and it might be tempting for the Rossonieri to give Oguchi Onyewu his full debut at the back. That part doesn’t scare me, but the thought of seeing Massimo Oddo trolling around the back four frightens me into submission.

Marseille 1, Milan 1

FC Zurich v. Real Madrid (Group C)

You know that phrase “this is why we play the games?” Well, this game falls outside of that adage, as this game is being played for no other reason than to electrify the stoned Swiss spectators with a glimpse of some decent, star-laden soccer.

Zurich 0, Real 4

Juventus v. Bordeaux (Group A)

The first real head-scratcher of the bunch. Juve look a lot better with Diego now fully integrated, but they’ll be without him for this visit of the French Ligue Unh champs. If FCGB opts not to play defensively against a creaky Old Lady, they have a legit chance of our first CL Matchday Upset Special.

Juventus 0, Bordeaux 1

Atletico Madrid v. APOEL Nicosia (Group D)

This is one for the gambling man. Atletico have boatloads of talent at their disposal – Diego Forlan, Simao, Sergio Aguero – but they’re as fond of self-destructing on the pitch as they are off it. Witness the current turmoil in the boardroom and rejoice the fact that it’s not your team doing the dynamite dance. Still, selling foul/PK machine Johnny Heitinga has to represent forward progress, right?

Considering the fact that they’re not likely to have scouted the Cypriots due to all this petty in-fighting, this might be a BATE special (in honor of the brave Belorussians of 2008/09′s campaign).

Atletico 1, APOEL 1

Maccabi Haifa v. Bayern Munich (Group A)

The Germans may be sputtering in the Bundesliga, but there’s nothing like the restorative power of a midweek beatdown of some minnow to help keep the juices flowing. The battering of Borussia Dortmund at the weekend put the Bavarians firmly back on track, and now that Franck Ribery and Louis van Gaal have kissed and made up, there appears to be harmony on the horizon for the awfully-nicknamed “Baylacticos.”

Haifa will never knew what hit them, but it’ll involve a scarred-up French winger, an oft-maligned Italian striker, and a homegrown forward who once scored a goal with his penis.

Maccabi 0, Bayern 5



About the Author

James T





10 Comments


  1. true story – Didier Deschamps does not like Hatem ben Arfa. He is much more likely to start Mbia or Abriel than ben Arfa in his diamond 4-4-2.


  2. Also, (and this is for jjf3) – the Bordeaux match will give us a chance to see which Carrasso shows up in goal.

    The “starts slow, then makes crazy saves” analysis of his match play can actually be considered a microcosm of his season/career. He has at times seemed rather disinterested in being out there, almost as if he forgot what he was supposed to be doing. His ability didn’t really shine at Marseille until Barthez had to sit for his ban for spitting.

    He’s also been a bit of a yo-yo call-up for Les Bleus lately.


  3. Highbury Library

    Maccabai 1 – 4 Bayern Munich
    Wolfsburg 3 – 1 CSKA Moscow
    Marseille 2 – 0 Milan
    Atletico Madrid 2 – 0 APOEL
    Juve 1 – 1 Bordeaux
    Besiktas 0 – 2 Man U
    FC Zurich 0 – 3 Real Madrid
    Chelski 3 – 1 Porto


  4. Ryan

    So my History prof moved this afternoon’s lecture from our usual spot, which is pretty much perfect for sitting in the back and watching streams, to some random spot that most definitely does not get WiFi. Clearly a Europa Cup fan.


  5. hadley

    Morientes under “goal scoring talent?” What year is this? 2000?


  6. Lingering Bursitis

    Hadley: anyone can score against AC Milan. ANYONE


  7. Goat

    @Ryan: As a history prof myself, I can tell you that your professor will probably fail you for pulling that s**t in class. You young whippersnappers think we don’t know that you’re texting or reading the internets in class but we do. You’re best bet is to just skip class and blame flu-like symptoms. This swine flu paranoia is at least good for something. By the way, I had a student come to class wearing a Ravens jersey yesterday knowing full well that I’m a Browns fan. You can rest assured that she’s not getting an A.


  8. Steve

    @Ryan – As a history prof in training, I’m going to have to agree with Goat here. That said, I still plan my Tuesdays and Wednesdays around the CL and hate having to teach during those afternoons, so I’m with ya.


  9. I was teaching during Summer of 2006. I watched every match online on my laptop while I was teaching class


  10. Goat

    It’s ok for professors to do it.



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