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Home|Football News|Teams|Champions League|Champions League 2006-2007



Champions League: Barca v Liverpool, Real Madrid v Bayern Munich

Europe Trembling From The Clash Of The Titans

Ozren Podnar

USA | Japan

The match-up of the last two Champions League winners must be the most delicious treat of all when the competition restarts in late February.

Twice Liverpool knocked out Barcelona from European competitions and both times they ended up winning a trophy, incidentally, the UEFA Cup.

In the 1975/76 semifinals Liverpool won 1-0 at Camp Nou and drew 1-1 at home against Cruyff, Neeskens and co., whereas at the same stage 25 years later the Reds held Barcelona to a goalless draw away and won 1-0 at Anfield.

The draw was ruthless again and paired these two up as early as the round of 16. Since Liverpool won their group, they will have the home soil advantage in the second leg, but that will hardly be enough if Barca recovers their splendid form from the last two seasons, displayed only occasionally over the past few months. Still, the Reds' coach Rafael Benítez used to know what to do to defeat Barcelona when he was at Valencia between 2001 and 2004.

Equally emotional should be the clash between Real Madrid and Bayern, two sides that have forged a sort of a rivalry in Europe over the past three decades. The Germans have been somewhat more successful so far, coming out as the winners in 1976, 1987 and 2001, while Real went through in 2000 and 2002. The comparison of the current squads might lead us to fancy Real Madrid to qualify for the quarterfinals, but last time there was a clear favourite between the two it was the underdog that prevailed.

In the spring of the 2000, the fancied Bayern lost the quarterfinals 2-3 on aggregate, although a few months earlier they had thrashed Madrid 4-1 and 4-2 in the group stage.

Porto's fans can hardly wait to confront their former coach Jose Mourinho when he comes with his expensive Chelsea side, but deep down inside they realize they are no match for the Londoners. Throughout their history, Porto have produced wonderful generations, the last of which left the stage in 2004 with the departure of Mourinho and several players, including some to Chelsea. On the other hand, the Blues have been deliberately built into a gigantic squad with the specific goal of winning the Champions' League...and help Roman Abramovich gain personal promotion in the European jet-set.

Manchester United will have a golden opportunity to take their revenge upon Lille, who amazingly beat them in 2005. Since United have been playing their best soccer since their last championship winning 2002/03 season, Lille stand little chance of repeating their feat.

Last year's runners-up Arsenal, again with the ambitions to reach the top, should have the upper hand against PSV Eindhoven, but the Dutch still preserve some of the magic that saw them beat Lyon in the 2004/05 quarterfinals and then barely lose to Milan in the semis.

Celtic and Milan will attempt to relive the excitements they created back in 1969 when both clubs were among the best in the world. Celtic, the European champions in 1967 and runners-up in 1970, were favourites to reach the semifinals when they drew 0-0 in the first leg at San Siro, but the Red Devils managed a 1-0 win in Glasgow, to win their second Champions' Cup months later against Ajax.

The remaining two Italian representatives, Roma and Inter, face even tougher challenges in the round of 16. Roma have an almost insurmountable obstacle in the French five-time champions Lyon. The French, so intelligently run by their chairman Jean-Michel Aulas, have flirted with European success for five years now, but they have yet to reach the semifinal stage. This season could prove to be their time.

Inter will battle it out with Valencia, whom they eliminated twice in the past five years, but with minimum score lines, the second time only thanks to the away goals' rule. Still, taking into consideration Inter's large, star-studded roster and their recent majestic forms, most money will have to be on the Roberto Mancini's squad.

Real and Bayern: Three Decades of Rivalry

Champions League In their seven encounters in the Champions' League or Cup, Bayern went through on four occasions and Real on three, but the Bavarians scored their wins far more convincingly. The overall balance is nine wins to Bayern, four to Real Madrid, with one draw.

1975/76, semifinals: Real – Bayern 1-1, 0-2 (1-3 agg)
1986/87, semifinals: Bayern – Real 4-1, 0-1 (4-2 agg)
1987/88, quarterfinals: Bayern – Real 3-2, 0-2 (3-4 agg)
1999/00, group stage: Bayern – Real 4-1, 4-2
1999/00, semifinals: Real – Bayern 2-0, 1-2 (3-2 agg)
2000/01, semifinals: Real – Bayern 0-1, 1-2 (1-3 agg)
2001/02, quarterfinals: Bayern – Real 2-1, 0.2 (2-3 agg)

Round of 16 pairings

The first legs are to be played on February 20 and 21, and the second legs on March 6 and 7.
Under the team's name are the results from the group stage.

Barcelona vs. Liverpool
Levski 5-0 2-0; PSV 0-0, 2-0
Werder 1-1, 2-0; Galatasaray 3-2, 2-3
Chelsea 0-1, 2-2; Bordeaux 1-0, 3-0
Our favourite: Barcelona

Real Madrid vs. Bayern
Lyon 0-2, 2-2; Spartak (M) 4-0, 2-2
Dinamo (K) 5-1, 2-2; Inter 2-0, 1-1
Steaua 4-1, 1-0; Sporting (L) 1-0, 0-0
Our favourite: Bayern

Inter vs. Valencia
Sporting 0-1, 1-0; Olympiakos 4-2, 2-0
Bayern 0-2, 1-1; Roma 2-1, 0-1
Spartak (M) 2-1, 1-0; Shakhtar 2-1, 2-2
Our favourite: Inter

Porto vs. Chelsea
CSKA 0-0, 2-0; Barcelona 1-0, 2-2
Arsenal 0-2, 0-0; Werder 2-0, 0-1
Hamburger 4-1, 3-1; Levski 3-1, 2-0
Our favourite: Chelsea

Lille vs. Manchester Utd.
Anderlecht 1-1, 2-2; Celtic 3-2, 0-1
Milan 1-1, 2-0; Benfica 1-0, 3-1
AEK 3-1, 1-0; Copenhagen 3-0, 0-1
Our favourite: Manchester Utd.

Celtic vs. Milan
Manchester Utd. 2-3, 1-0; AEK 3-0, 0-1
Copenhagen 1-0, 1-3; Lille 1-1, 0-2
Benfica 3-0, 0-3; Anderlecht 1-0, 4-1
Our favourite: Milan

Roma vs. Lyon
Shakhtar 4-0, 0-1; Real Madrid 2-0, 2-2
Valencia 1-2, 1-0; Steaua 3-0, 1-1
Olympiakos 1-0, 1-1; Dinamo (K) 3-0, 1-0
Our favourite: Lyon

PSV vs. Arsenal
Liverpool 0-0, 0-2; Hamburger 1-1, 3-1
Bordeaux 1-0, 1-3; Porto 2-0, 0.0
Galatasaray 2-1, 2-0; CSKA 0-1, 0-0
Our favourite: Arsenal

Champions League Top scorers

5 – Kaka (Milan),
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Fernando Morientes (Valencia)
4 – Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real)
Claudio Pizarro (Bayern)
Peter Crouch (Liverpool)
3 - Francesco Totti (Roma)
Nicolae Dica (Steaua)
Louis Saha (Manchester Utd.)
David Villa (Valencia)
Julio Cruz (Inter)
Nery Castillo (Olympiakos)
Luis García (Liverpool)
Kenny Miller (Celtic)
Lisandro Lopez (Porto)
Luis González (Porto)

Quarter Finals Preview



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