Yes, I know we’re having a slow day today. It’s hard to muster up the courage to write when you’re drunk by lunchtime. Excuse our mess. We’re working on it.
Here we are again with the CL, though this time, Spurs are playing. Less than 24 hours after Chelsea’s canter over Marseille, and the Gooner’s graft to glean all three points from a bus trip to Belgrade, we get to see what the other capital collective can concoct with the visit of FC Twente.
Rubin Kazan, being all special with their time zone, are done and dusted with Barthelona, and Twitter’s soccer cognoscenti seemed to think Rubin would get murdered playing defensively at home. See how that turned out, eh?
Predictions and guff are merely a click away.
Internazionale v. Werder Bremen
After both sides experienced the sweet drawing sensation in Matchday 1, now would be the time to get a bit of breathing room from the pack with a comfortable win. Question is, who’s procuring the points? The Benitez Boys bungled the Roma game at the weekend—though if we’re being fair, Mirko Vucinic stole it more than Inter threw it away—while Werder threw away a 2-0 lead only to win at home to Hamburg via Hugo Almeida’s 85th minute strike.
Domestic form is a push for both, so we look to Inter’s age/experience matched up against Werder’s speed and youth. The Marko Men, Marin and Arnautovic, will cause Inter’s D some issues, especially as Thiago Motta, Marco Materazzi, and Javier Zanetti are all out with injuries and Walter Samuel didn’t train yesterday. That said, Bremen have problems too: they’ll be without Naldo, Sebastian Boenisch, Clemens Fritz, Claudio Pizarro, and Torsten Frings while defender Petri Pasanen remains a game-time decision.
Though both sides are understaffed, you’d fancy Bremen’s strikeforce to thrive, though Inter will be ably equipped if Goran Pandev and Diego Milito, who also skipped Tuesday’s training, can turn out.
PREDICTION: Inter 1, Werder Bremen 2
Tottenham Hotspur v. FC Twente
Um, whatever Yankee Yiddos said? Seriously, Spurs have an injury crisis in their backline, and the goals aren’t exactly flowing like wine and nachos at the other end, either. No Defoe, Dawson, Kaboul, King, or Gallas, with Assou-Ekotto at 50/50 and Heurelho Gomes still uncertain: this is not good when you’re facing a quick team that hung two on Inter in the Meazza thanks to their assortment of tyros: left-mid Theo Janssen, central enforcer/creator Wout Brama, CB Douglas, and frontman Luuk de Jong, who has 4 in Die Tukker’s first 7 games.
Expect more of the nerve-wracking European fun at White Hart Lane today. Another high-scoring draw awaits.
PREDICTION: Spurs 2, Twente 2
Hapoel Tel Aviv v. Lyon
The Israelis provided meek opposition for Benfica in the first matchday, and though Lyon are in no semblance of scintillating form quite yet—seriously… winless in Ligue 1 since August 21, drawing 1 and losing 3 since—they should have enough in the tank to grind out points this afternoon, even without Jean Makoun (doubtful) and Lisandro Lopez.
PREDICTION: Hapoel 0, Lyon 1
Schalke 04 v. Benfica
Can I get a Home Win, people? Not only have the Bundesliga bunglers (1 win, 1 draw, 4 defeats in 2010-11) beaten Portuguese teams all three times they’ve faced them in the Champions League, but they’re able to name a close-to-full-strength side now that Atsuto Uchida’s fully recovered from his toe injury (and he was good in Schalke’s off-the-schneid 2-2 v. Borussia this past weekend). Benfica, like seemingly everyone else in this godforsaken group, can’t pull it together on the domestic front—3 wins, 3 draws in 2010-11, good for 5th place so far—and should struggle tonight, especially if they play without Alan Kardec (super-sub), Aimar (playmaker), and Ruben Amorim (puller of strings).
PREDICTION: Schalke 2, Benfica 1
Rangers v. Bursaspor
It might be different if this were taking place in a Crocodile Arena, but instead, it’s an equally-inhospitable and unwelcoming environ: Ibrox. Both sides are undefeated in domestic play, which means I can’t point to league form in the hopes of divining a winner, and there aren’t really any significant injury absences to report (unless you consider James Beattie as being “significant”). The one outlier is Mr. Kenny Miller, who’s already racked up 10 goals in the Gers’ first six SPL games, which means he’s as en fuego as anyone else in Europe. That’s enough to swing this out of the push category, folks.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Bursaspor 1
Valencia v. Manchester United
I don’t think any of us expected the bats sans Villa and Silva to bludgeon La Liga, attacking opponents much in the same way that David Hasselhoff pummels hamburgers after a few vodka and vodkas. Oh, and they beat Bursa 4-0 in Turkey, so they’re clearly unafraid of this “Europe” business, and with good reason: United limp into tonight’s game with a slew of big injuries (Rooney, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs) and an uncharacteristically leaky defense with Rio Ferdinand more active on Twitter than on the pitch.
That said, the Spaniards are hardly bulletproof: no Joaquin or Ever Banega in the midfield, and no telling how effective Juan Mata will be after twisting his ankle in Monday’s practice. The decider here—and I never thought I’d say this—is Dimitar Berbatov. His rich vein of form should be enough to have Fergie smiling at the final whistle.
PREDICTION: Valencia 1, Manchester United 3
Rubin Kazan v. Barcelona – too late
Panathanaikos v. FC Copenhagen
As my prognostication runs out of steam, I posit that this will be a draw, only to end up being the most exciting, end-to-end, goal-stuffed game of the round. That’s often how this works, right?
PREDICTION: Panathanaikos 3, FC Copenhagen 3