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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
Liverpool v Chelsea

-Essien suspended

Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Barcelona v Man Utd

-Puyol suspended, Ronaldihno out?

Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Man Utd v Barcelona


Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Chelsea v Liverpool

So 3 of last years semi finalists make it to this stage again.
Pool/Chelsea will be a tough one to call. Chelsea are in tatters but
still manage to win most of their games. They have been beaten twice
by Pool in the semi's in recent years. Revenge is possibly on the cards?

United/Barca is an intriguing match up. Attacking beautiful football is
demanded by both sets of fans and some of the greatest players
in World football will be on display. Barcelona's form has not been
so great and the fans are not happy with Rikjaard. Ronaldihno has missed
games for God knows what reasons, Messi (their best player) has been
injured for a while an dmay not be fit enough for these games.

Their defence is very leaky and too old and their attackers are out of form,
injured or not doing the business. For the record I think 2 of their best
(and underrated) players are in midfield, Xavi and Iniesta, who will be key
to their success against United.

We all know what United can lets hope they come to the party
and kick some ass :)

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For me (As I said Before ) Manchester United And Liverpool will be in Final.
Good that Puyol is suspended for the First leg and I hope Messi will not recover from Injury.
Ronaldinho will Not have any chance to come back Because He's out for six weeks.

· Smeghead Moderator
13,815 Posts
Article by Ian Dixon on

Barcelona injury crisis looks set to be easing as Deco prepares to return to action this weekend and Lionel Messi is due to return from Argentina for the final stretch of his rehabilitation.

The one outstanding dilemma is the fitness of Ronaldinho, who has been training intermittently and is unlikely to appear against Getafe for fear of a Camp Nou backlash.

Frank Rijkaard has been able to shuffle his pack to cover for the injuries, but results have not been impressive and the trio of players are all required for the run-in.

Deco was hopeful of being given the green light to return to the squad for the game against Schalke, but was advised by doctors to continue working with fitness coach Paco Seirul.lo in order to be completely ready.

The Portuguese midfielder is now set to be named in the squad for the visit of Getafe on Sunday after recovering from a calf injury and his return will be a welcome one.

Ronaldinho is still suffering from his physical problems and while some club doctors have hinted that they are not sure if he is injured or not, those stories have meant that his return will be delayed.

Reports of him not having any reason not to play have helped turn public opinion against him and the club do not want to make his return one that will see his confidence be hammered by jeering from Barça's fans.

After training for 20 minutes on Sunday, the Brazilian did not train at all on Monday before having another short stint on Tuesday on the pitch in front of La Masia.

Messi will be joining his close friend later in the week as he is due to return from Argentina on Thursday morning to begin the final phase of his comeback.

It's looking unlikely that Ronaldinho will play for Barca again this season...possibly ever...but Messi and Deco should be back for the Champions League semi-final.

The suspension of Puyol, their captain, is very good news though because Barca look shaky at the back anyway so he will be a big miss.

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I think Messi will be back and ready for action. Everyone speaks about the big 4 but Iniesta and Xavi are really good players too. I think we're more than capable of beating them.
Pique will enjoy being home again, no doubt. It'd be great for him, to play infront of them, but it doesnt seem likely unfortunately.

Can't even begin to say who'll win in the Loserpool v Chelski game. Could go either way.

I hope for a Man Utd- Liverpool Final.

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Great to see Carles Puyol missing out on a suspension against United in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final tie in Nou Camp! To be fair to their inspirational club captain, he is trying to marshal a back line that, while solid for the vast bulk of games, shares with its goalkeeper a maddening tendency towards brief but eventful self-destruction.

Much of that is down to the squad. Gabriel Milito has been a decent, if uninspired addition to the squad, but the likes of Lilian Thuram are starting to show their age, while Rafael Marquez is so dogged by injury that he cannot find consistency at all.

Yes, the "Fantastic Four" hype has been a lead balloon, but the forward line, for all its problems, remains formidable still. Even with Lionel Messi out, Barcelona seldom fail to score, and considering that Frank Rijkaard currently has to shoehorn one of Samuel Eto'o and Bojan Krkic - both on form, but both decidely central - into a wide position, that's no mean feat IMHO.

So with Ronaldinho Gaucho & Carles Puyol the only outstanding absentees, I could see Barca fielding this Starting-XI against United in Catalunya:

------------------------------Victor Valdes-----------------------------

----------------Gabriel Milito------------Rafael Marquez------------
Gianluca Zambrotta--------------------------------------Eric Abidal

-------------------------------Yaya Toure------------------------------
--------Andres Iniesta----------------------Xavi Hernandez-------

-----------Lionel Messi-------------------------Bojan Krkic----------
------------------------------Samuel Eto'o-----------------------------

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Gerrard set to miss first game vs Chelsea:

Im still not sure who I would rather see progress out of this tie.
Beating the Scousers would be THE ultimate (If we were to get to the final)
but losing to them would mean pure pain and depression for the remainder
of our lifetimes......
Half of me would love the Dream final but the other half of me just wants the
Scousers OUT of Europe once and for all. Im sick of them getting to the final.

So who do you want to go through and why?

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
scott 4 evra said:
i can't believe people tink that pool will go through. with chelsea playin at sb 2nd leg, i think they are certs.
I think playing the 2nd leg at SB is an advantage for Chelsea but I wouldnt
go as far as saying they were certs to go through and that certainly isnt a good
enough reason. This is the 3rd time in recent seasons that these 2 teams have
met in the semi's. Liverpool have won both recent encounters so who is to say
they wont make it 3 out of 3?
I think its so hard to call this game. If I had to choose, Id say Chelsea but
I wouldnt be at all surprised if the Scousers won.
Basically I dont have a clue...

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A Battle Of Tactics, Another Of Romantics


We are at the business end of the Uefa Champions League season, and sets the scene ahead of the first legs of what promise to be two absorbing semi-final ties.

A Contrast Of Philosophies

After what has been yet another dramatic Champions League season, we are down to the final four. Barcelona, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have set up two tantalising ties - ties which could not be more different from each other.

At one end we have the Blues and the Reds offering another one of their gripping tactical masterpieces, while at the other there is a clash that promises to showcase attacking football at it's zenith.

On the one hand, you will have Essien doing his best to keep Gerrard on a short leash, and Mascherano ensuring that Lampard does not burst through the middle of Liverpool's back line. In short, both teams will focus first on canceling each other out first, resulting in an absorbing game of cat and mouse. A battle of tactics, a battle of nerves; few would be surprised then, if I said a solitary goal over two legs will decide this one.

On the other hand, we will have a game characterized by Ronaldo and Messi running at back-pedaling defenders as if there were no tomorrow. Samuel Eto'o and Wayne Rooney will represent the sheer determination to score, with Andrés Iniesta and Anderson offering youthful exuberance in the middle of the pitch.

The Journey Thus Far

It has been an interesting journey that has led us here. Olympiakos got the better of Lazio and Werder Bremen to qualify for the knock-out stages, and Rosenborg almost made it too, only to be denied by Schalke at the very death. Lyon and Rangers had a battle royale on the final day, while Fenerbahçe held their nerves to pip PSV - deservedly so, it has to be said.

We saw Refa Benitez's former team Valencia crash out in unspectacular fashion, and his current team also threatened to follow suit, but recovered just in time to assert their European pedigree.

Then, we had three historic ties.

An ebullient Arsenal pipped Milan against the odds in what many hailed as the passing of the baton, only to be usurped as Roma produced an even bigger upset by beating Real Madrid home and away.

The bulk of the drama, though, came in the third of the classics, as Inter had a man sent off in each leg against Liverpool and thus went crashing out of the competition. Inter fans will cry foul for years to come, while the Reds will insist that the Nerazzurri got just what they deserved. The jury will be out for a few decades, one fears, or at the very least until they meet again!

Arsenal and Roma fell by the wayside at the next stage, yet not before leaving behind a few 'ifs' and 'buts'. The Giallorossi will wonder what could have happened had Daniele De Rossi tucked away that fortuitous spot-kick at Old Trafford, while the Gunners will complain about those two penalty decisions that went against them, one in each leg. Once again, the debate will rage on for some time to come.

In the midst of all this, Barcelona and Chelsea had sneaked into the semi-finals relatively unchallenged. The Blues dismissed Olympiacos and Fenerbahçe comfortably despite enduring tricky away legs, while the Blaugrana chose attack as the best form of defence, picking up away wins and then bringing it home without much ado.

And Then There Were Four!

There is always drama and controversy, and we will never know what could have happened had the ties been drawn out differently. But it would only be right to say that the four strongest teams have made it to the final four – and they remain impossible to separate.

Barcelona and Manchester United are both unbeaten, with six wins and two draws each from their eight games thus far. Perhaps goal difference can separate them, but what do you do when each side is +13 for the tournament? Well, you could look at who has scored more goals. Surprise, surprise, both have hit the back of the net 18 times, conceding just five! Take your pick.

Then you have Chelsea and Liverpool, two sides that endured tricky starts to their European campaigns, the Reds tottering after their first three games, and the Blues losing their coach after their home draw against Rosenborg on the first matchday. But it was almost inevitable that they would qualify, and once in the knock-out stages, you would have to be brave to bet against teams organized as well as these two are.

Liverpool sport better stats in the tournament this season, due largely to an emphatic 8-0 mauling of Beºiktaº. They also enjoy a better record in recent Champions League meetings between the two sides, with Jose Mourinho failing to find the the key to unlock Rafa's system. However, Avram Grant has not lost to Rafa Benítez in their two meetings this season, and another pair of draws cannot be ruled out.

But Who Are The Favourites?

On current form, one must believe that Manchester United and Liverpool have a slight edge over their opponents. The Reds were stuttering until a couple of months ago, but Rafa has suddenly found the magic formula just as his head was being readied for the chopping block. The Red Devils, meanwhile, have looked absolutely unbeatable since they scraped through against Lyon.

But if you look at the fixture list, Barcelona and Liverpool come out favourites, primarily because Chelsea and Manchester United play each other right in the middle of the two legs.

That could well affect the two title challengers, but they can take solace in another criterion, which actually makes them favourites to go through. They play the all-important second leg at home and Champions League history reveals that they have a massive 80%+ chance of going through. As if to prove the point, all four of these teams played the second leg at home in the quarter-finals!

To sum up, depending on the criterion you choose to look at, you get a different set of favourites – just the way it should be, in fact.

I would be reluctant to put my money on any of the four, but with a gun to my head I would probably say that Liverpool and Manchester United remain favourites, albeit for opposite reasons. Liverpool seem to have found the cutting edge, the ability to create magic up front, something that could be decisive in light of two rugged defenses. Manchester United, meanwhile, have a much stronger back line, again a potentially decisive difference between two attacking sides. But then again, all it will take is a moment of genius from Drogba or Messi to put all punditry to shame. Strap on your seat-belts.

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Benitez Confirms Gerrard Will Face Chelsea


Rafael Benitez has confirmed the news that inspirational captain Steven Gerrard has overcome a slight neck injury to lead Liverpool out in the Uefa Champions League first-leg semi-final clash against Chelsea at Anfield.

In a short statement Benitez bought relief and joy to Reds fans around the world as he simply said: "He's fit for the game.”

The news of Gerrard’s recovery sharply follows the revelation that Chelsea’s own influential playmakerFrank Lampard will be involved with the tie at Anfield after the England international's mother’s condition stabilised.

Lampard’s agent Steve Kutner had earlier informed the public why the Chelsea vice-captain had missed two games for his club, but also that the midfielder would make a comeback for the semi-final.

"Although still very ill, her [Lampard’s mother] condition has now stabilised", said Kutner in a statement about Lampard's mother who was admitted to hospital suffering from pnuemonia.

The two on-field rivals/off-field friends have often been pivotal in the successes of their respective clubs in such big games, a point made clear by Benitez when highlighting Gerrard’s importance.

"When we played against AC Milan (in the 2005 final), people were saying that Milan wanted Gerrard, and hopefully it will be the same in the final against Barcelona or Manchester United”, said the Reds boss.

"Stevie is a fantastic player and he's 100% focused on his career with Liverpool.

"He's fit for the game. Maybe after he's scored the winning goal in the semi-final, maybe he will be worth more."

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13,815 Posts
Anyone else starting to get nervous?

Although most of the build up is for tonight's game between Liverpool and Chelsea there's been some for our game tomorrow too. I'm starting to get that nervously excited feeling I got before last seasons semi-final.

It's a massive game coming up for us and I can't wait!!!!
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