Wednesday, February 25, 2015

UEFA Champions League Preview February 25

Results from yesterday's campaign saw Juventus defeat Dortmund 2-1 with the German side having the away goal. The other match result saw Barcelona defeat Manchester City 2-1 with Barcelona having two strong away goals from Luis Suarez. However, Barcelona could of had three goals if it wasn't for this miss.

Today's matchups are Arsenal vs. Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen vs Atletico Madrid. Arsenal and Monaco will face each other for the first time in each club's history and both clubs are nursing a lot of injuries to their key players.  Atletico Madrid will battle against a Bayer Leverkusen team that has been struggling in the Bundesliga at 6th but has to be happy to make it to the knockout rounds of the Champions League. 

Arsenal vs Monaco
Arsenal runs on Alexis
Possible lineups
Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Welbeck, Özil, Sánchez; Giroud.
 Out: Ramsey (hamstring), Arteta (ankle), Debuchy (shoulder), Gnabry (knee), Diaby (calf), Wilshere (ankle)
 Doubtful: Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin)

Monaco: Subašić; Fabinho, Abdennour, Wallace, Kurzawa; Dirar, João Moutinho, Kondogbia, Bernardo Silva, Ferreira-Carrasco; Berbatov.
Out: Toulalan (suspended), Lamina Traoré (leg), Bakayoko (thigh), Carvalho (calf), Raggi (knee)
Doubtful: Kurzawa (leg), Ferreira-Carrasco (thigh)

Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stage for the 15th year in a row. The closest they reached to a Champions League final was 2006 where they were only runner ups. 
Monaco were also runner ups in 2004, but went through some dark times in the years following getting relegated after 2010-2011 season. 
After Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybololvev took over, the sun started shining again for Monaco and are 4th in Ligue 1. 
Rejected by Manchester United resurrected by Monaco.
They have lost their Colombian duo James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao to Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively but they have enough quality to compete. 
Joao Moutinho and Kondogbia complement each other well in the midfield and Dimitar Berbatov is one of the most effective lazy players in soccer. 
Arsenal's midfield have been depleted by injury but still have Carzorla and Ozil as both can make magic with the ball at their feet. 
The attacking instincts of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud and speed of Danny Welbeck will be alot to ask for the Monaco defense which will be the deciding factor over this match series.

Arsenal Key Player: Alexis Sanchez
Monaco Key Player: Dimitar Berbatov
Aggregate: Arsenal 3-2

Atletico Madrid vs Bayer Leverkusen
He's been excellent for Atletico this season, can he replicate that against Bayer 04?

Possible lineups
Leverkusen: Leno; Castro, Spahić, Papadopoulos, Wendell; Reinartz, Rolfes; Bellarabi, Çalhanoğlu, Son; Drmić.
Out: Kruse (ankle), Ömer Toprak (suspended), Jedvaj (hamstring), Bender (knee)
Atlético: Moyà; Juanfran, Godín, Miranda, Siqueira; Saúl, Gabi, Tiago, Raúl García; Griezmann, Mandžukić.
Out: Koke (hamstring)
Doubtful: Arda (dead leg), Giménez (illness)

Atletico Madrid finished the UEFA Champions League last season against Real Madrid as runner ups due to Real's late game heroics.
They are a different team this season as Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa now play for Chelsea.They have replaced them with effective signings in Mario Mandzukic, Miguel Moya and Antoine Griezmann(above).
Griezmann and Mandzukic have combined for a total of 26 goals this campaign. 

Josep Drmic is a striker on form.
Leverkusen have key players such as Lars Bender, Tin Jedvaj and Max Kruse out for injury and Omer Toprak suspended for one match.Swiss striker Josep Drmic is not to be slept on as he has 16 goals this campaign. This will be the battle of two potent attacks but also strong defenses.
The winner out of this draw will be Atletico as they have the better defense of the two sides.

Bayer 04 Key Player: Josep Drmic
Atletico Key Player: Antoine Griezmann
Aggregate: Atletico 3-1