Writer: Site Staff
Date:Saturday March 21 2009
Tony Cascarino, a pundit for the New Football Pools (for details click here) has looked at the Champions League and made his predictions.
Manchester United v Porto
This is the best draw Manchester United could have got. Sir Alex`s side will definitely score goals against the Portuguese as this is not the best Porto side they`ve had in recent years. In fact, Portuguese football is not that strong as a whole. Take Sporting Lisbon`s 12-1 aggregate thrashing by Bayern for example, they are a mere 4 points worse off that Porto in their domestic league.
I expect Manchester United to put enormous pressure on Porto in the first leg with the away side playing with one up front and trying to suffocate the midfield. However, there are plenty of ways to skin a cat and United have plenty of attacking options to exploit the away side.
Porto may have been the better side in their group win over Arsenal but Portuguese sides seem to have a habit of being good at home and awful away. Therefore, I fancy Porto to be out of this tie by the end of the first leg with United comfortably progressing.
Cascarino verdict: Red Devils Pick Off Porto
Don't forget you can now play the Classic Pools (click here) online. There is an offer at the moment to pay £5 and get £15 of bets free.
And what does he have to say about the other ties?
Villarreal v Arsenal
I think the advantage goes to Arsenal straight away with them having the 2nd leg at home. This is a decent draw for the Gunners as the Spaniards are a side they can definitely overcome. I think Arsenal fans will be happy enough with this draw.
As long as Arsenal can keep it tight over in Spain then they will have a golden opportunity at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger`s side are definitely good enough to get a draw in the first leg knowing they possess more players who can produce a bit of magic out of nothing. So I don`t see them having too much trouble at home.
Villarreal are a good side, they play a lot of stuff but like Italian football, I think the Spanish league has suffered a bit in the last few years, so I can`t see them progressing at Arsenal`s expense. One problem for Wenger`s side is if they give away free-kicks in and around their box. The Spanish team are dangerous from such areas. They like to keep matches tight and possess a few tricky players like former Gunner Robert Pires who remains a good player even if he has lost a few yards of pace compared to his time in England.
Cascarino verdict: Arsenal to Gun Down the Yellow Submarine
Liverpool v Chelsea
These two sides meet yet again and there`s usually nothing in these clashes. The arrival of Guus Hiddink has improved Chelsea no end and with him on board they will give Liverpool a far harder game. However, I fancy Liverpool to beat them.
Rafa Benitez`s side look more organised and have that bit more about them than Chelsea, especially in Europe. Liverpool have already done the double over Chelsea in the league this season so will definitely fancy their chances of going through.
Now if Big Phil Scolari was still in charge Chelsea would have a lot less chance of a win but this is a horrible draw for the Londoners. I doubt Liverpool will have fancied this draw too much either but it`s definitely worse for Chelsea.
Cascarino verdict: Reds Run to Continue
Barcelona v Bayern Munich
This one looks set to be a very high-scoring game with both sides packed with exciting attacking talent. Don`t be too surprised if these games finish 4-3 or 5-2 or whatever. Despite both sides going strong in this competition you have to say Barcelona have the edge.
The Barcelona front line includes the likes of Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto`o while Bayern have the likes of Franck Ribery, Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose so there`s no doubt there`ll be goals in this one. Especially as both sides have very static back-lines.
Barca may have quality up front but I have big doubts about Carles Puyol and the goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Puyol always gives attackers half a chance as he dives in a lot but despite this I`d expect Barcelona to outscore the Germans over two legs.
I`ve have a feeling that either Chelsea or Liverpool will stop either of these sides in the semi`s though. Both Bayern and Barca give plenty of chances to the opposition whereas Chelsea or Liverpool know how to defend in Europe.
Cascarino verdict: Barca the Best of the Big Scorers
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