The first leg of the¬ Quarterfinal¬ round is will begin this week. Bayern will host Man United,
Lyon hosts Bordeaux, Arsenal hosts Barcelona, and Inter Milan hosts CSKA Moscow. So, who will
happen in each first leg? Well, it's never easy to make predictions but let's take a look at each
The draw for the quarter-final matches was held Friday morning at UEFA headquarters in Nyon,
Switzerland. As expected there are some big talking points, not the least being Thierry Henry's
return to face Arsenal. These clubs last faced off in the 2005-06 final when Henry was captain of
The UEFA Champions League has finished its round of 16 with a few upsets but many of the
favorites still remain. Barcelona dominated the second leg in a fantastic performance from Lionel
Messi while Wayne Rooney scored four goals over two matches against AC Milan. In one of the upsets,
Real Madrid was knocked out by Lyon and CSKA Moscow won at Sevilla in the second leg to
Barring a flood of deals in the last couple of days, this will go down as one of the quietest
transfer windows in recent years. So far there have been very few actual sales with the majority of
deals being short-term loan stints with options to buy later. The biggest deals I've seen announced
have been in the ¬£3m range, which is far cry from last January.
It's only days away from the opening of the transfer window a time when much cash will be
splashed and many sides will be re-shaped and benches re-inforced. Because there can be some major
impact signings, I am waiting to analyze the match-ups in the Champions League Round of 16 and the
Europa League Round of 32 until after the transfer window closes.
On behalf of all of the bloggers on Champions League Talk, I'd like to wish you Happy Holidays
during this special time of the year.
During 2009, Champions League Talk has continued to grow in popularity thanks to bloggers such
as Lonnie Smetana, Chris Rivers, Jonny Carter and many others.
The congestion of international, domestic and cup competitions is beginning to show as the
injury lists grow longer. Several top stars will be missing from the Matchday 5 stage. Let's take a
look at how this might impact the results and standings.
Eric Abidal D Barcelona
The 30-year-old suffered a thigh injury on international duty with France and will miss games
against Athletic Club Bilbao at the weekend, Internazionale on Tuesday, and their massive derby
with Real Madrid five days later.
Liverpool have been given a boost ahead of their crucial Champions League tie with Debrecen by
the news that captain Steven Gerrard should be back for the game.
The club currently sit in third place in Group E on four points and are five behind Fiorentina
in second place with only two games remaining.
Rangers face a crunch Champions League night this week and one of their stars has stressed the
importance of the tie.
The Scots are currently bottom of Group G with only one point and enter a tie away in Romania
against Unirea Urziceni knowing that another defeat will put an end to their distant hopes of
qualifying for the next round, or even booking a place in the Europa League.
AC Milan's 3-2 win in Madrid on Matchday 3 lifted them to the top of Group C and a repeat
success on home soil would take¬ them a¬ step closer to the first knockout round. The Matchday 3
win was a big morale boost for Milan while Madrid slumped. Madrid¬ put a three-game winless run
behind them with victory over Getafe CF on Saturday but face a tough task in overturning Milan at
Swedish legend Henrik Larsson had an emotional farewell from professional football on Wednesday
night as he played his last ever professional game for Swedish side Helsingborg. Larsson had
announced his intent to retire at the end of this season but decided to bow out one game early in
order to play his last match in front of the Helsinborg supporters.
I have to start this off by saying thank you to the people behind the scenes at uefa.com for
moving their subscription video service away from Windows Media and into a Flash-based format. It's
allowed me to follow all the games from the comforts of my Mac. If you've not done so, I strongly
recommend checking out their Replay service.
There were plenty of upsets yesterday, could we see more today? On paper Manchester United, who
have struggled as of late, could be expected to slip against CSKA after a long trip to Moscow but
CSKA has not been performing well either. I am not expecting a feast of football from that match
and the real drama lies elsewhere in the schedule.
Matchday 3 sees some crucial matchups but none may be more important at this stage than the
Standard Liege Olympiacos fixture. Arsenal look to be a lock for top spot in Group H but second
place is wide open. A win today for Olympiacos would put them in the driver's seat.
If they lose at home today against Arsenal, last season's Eredivise champions AZ Alkmaar could
be done for.
This season's Champions League and Europa League has its usual cast of superstars such as
Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery but I wanted to feature a few names that I think you'll be
hearing a lot more about as the January transfer window approaches.
1) Miralem Pjanic midfielder Olympique Lyonnais
The "new Juninho" (pictured above) has actually lived up to the moniker thus far.