September 11, 2006

Champions League Matchday 1 Preview: Part 1

Posted in Champions League at 7:49 pm by deadlymusings

Group A:

Barcelona v. Levski Sofia – Coming off a superb 3-0 win over Osasuna, Barca are surely the favorites. Samuel Eto’o scored a pair with Lionel Messi grabbing the third in a terrific first half for the Catalan giants.

Levski is coming off an 8-0 demolition of Marek which keeps them near the top of the league. Georgi Ivanov scored a hat-trick, but no one expects him or anyone on this team to threaten Victor Valdes in goal.

Chelsea v. Werder Bremen – The Blues go in as favorites on the back of a 2-1 victory against crosstown rivals Charlton. Didier Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho found the net on Saturday, but it was not the strongest of performances.

Werder’s perfect start to the season was emphatically ended at the hands of Schalke this weekend. They will need to play much better if the want to get anything at Stamford Bridge.

Group B:

Bayern Munich v. Spartak Moscow – The German giants needed an extra time Philipp Lahm goal to overcome St. Pauli on Saturday in the DfB Pokal. They continue to sit second on goal difference behind Nurnberg in the Bundesliga and fully expect to beat the Red-Whites tomorrow.

Spartak came from behind twice to get a vital point at CSKA. The Red-Whites have relied on Roman Pavlyuchenko’s goals all season to keep them in contention for the Russian Premier League crown. They have a realistic shot at a point.

Sporting Lisbon v. Inter Milan –  Nani’s 12th minute strike was enough to keep them level on points with Porto two games into the Superliga campaign. Sporting present enough opportunities for teams to carve them open at the back, but they can outscore almost anyone when they are on form.

Inter have much the same situation. A 3-2 win over bottom side Fiorentina to open the season raised plenty of concerns for the Nerazurri’s foreign legion. Luca Toni nearly pulled the Viola back from three goals down after Estaban Cambiasso’s brace and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal.

Group C:

Galatasaray v. Bordeaux – Galatasaray are unbeaten in their first five games in the Super Lig, but four of those are draws and they sit ninth. Hasas Sas was the goalscorer in their 1-1 draw at Denizlispor on Saturday. They should be able to produce something at one of the toughest home grounds in the world.

Les Girondins relied on Jean-Claude Darcheville’s brace to see off Nice on Saturday to climb up to 11th in Ligue 1. Bordeaux are looking to start off their first Champions League campaign in seven years with a positive result.

PSV Eindhoven v. Liverpool – Edison Mendez and Jefferson Farfan’s combined three goal effort was more than enough to see off ten-man Willem II. PSV are already three points off the pace in the Eredivisie’s leaders AZ and Ajax. As the Netherlands’ lone representative in the Champions League, the Dutch FA are keen to see them advance.

Liverpool were stunned in the Merseyside derby on Saturday, as simple and/or comical defensive errors led to all three Everton goals. They may be motivated tomorrow to take out some of their frustration on PSV, but they may find it more difficult than they think.

Group D:

Olympiakos v. Valencia – Olympiakos find themselves top of the league after a 2-0 triumph over PAOK on Saturday with Michalis Konstantinou and Nery Alberto Castillo on the scoresheet. With this year’s final set to take place in Athens, there may be a little extra motivation for the home side to perform well.

However, in Valencia, they face a side that has reached the final twice in their history. A 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid could be crucial in quest for the title. Los Ches should expect all three points from this encounter.

Roma v. Shakhtar Donetsk – Daniele De Rossi and Mancini led Roma to a 2-0 victory over Livorno in Serie A’s opening fixture. The Giallorossi are expected to be one of the challengers to the Scudetto, and a win in this fixture is expected for the 1984 finalists.

Shakhtar returned to the top of the Ukrainian championship on Saturday on a Grigory Yarmash own goal early in their match with Vorskla. European fixtures tend to be difficult for Shakhtar since their only real challenge in the league is Dynamo Kiev.

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