Welcome to the 2007 Champions League. Without further ado, here are tonight’s fixtures with all games starting at 2:45pm Central for those midwestern fans. This is game 1 of the 6-game Group stages with the Top 2 teams from each group advancing to the knockout round of 16. The Group stages rarely produce too many surprises, as a smaller club may win an odd game against the likes of a Barcelona or Chelsea but won’t advance in the end. The 6 games really favor the bigger clubs whose quality/quantity of rosters help them through the grind. Normally the 1st games aren’t known for exciting football as teams usually play not to lose. But let’s hope that is not case this season.
TTL’s game of the night is FC Porto v Liverpool. Porto, the defending Portuguese champs, welcome last-year’s runners-up to the Estadio do Dragao for an intriguing game. Porto is playing excellent football while opening the season with 4 consecutive wins in their domestic league. LP is also on good form, despite being held to 0-0 draw at Portsmouth on Saturday. Steven Gerrard will play tonight and it will be his 80th European game for the Reds. Look for an edgy, tactical game as Porto has only conceded 1 goal this season and LP usually plays a counterattacking style on the road in the Group stages. With Marseille and Turkish side Besitkas also in Group A, winning away from home will be a tough task. Don’t think LP will win tonight, but a draw will suffice for their purposes.
Defending champs AC Milan welcome another Portuguese side, Benifica (and America teenager Freddy Adu) to the San Siro in a rematch of the 1963 Final. Enough said about the Italian clubs the better. And while TTL is an extremely giving mood, let’s give props to Arsenal, top of the table in the Premier League for the 1st time since 2004. Henry who? Although soon could be referring to the Gunners as the Kalashinkovs.
Chelsea hosts Norwegian side Rosenborg at Stamford Bridge without the injured Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Ballack, Wayne Bridge and Claudio Pizarro. Which lead to this typical baffling Jose Mourinho quote:
“The style of how we play is very important. But it is omelettes and eggs. No eggs – no omelettes! It depends on the quality of the eggs. ‘In the supermarket you have class one, two or class three eggs and some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. ‘So when the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem.”
TTL wholeheartedly concurs. After spending roughly 1 trillion assembling a roster the past 3 seasons Chelsea should be able to serve up a decent omelette.
Continuing with the food analogy, tonight’s games are some tasty appetizers before tomorrow’s encounter of Arsenal v FC Sevilla which is like steak stuffed with sushi. What a mouthwatering games as these 2 teams are simply fun to watch play. Arsenal is in full form at the moment as their short-passing game is shredding Premier League defenses. And Sevilla plays with a real spirit and commitment to attack as the 2-time defending UEFA Cup champs must win more games 3-1 than any team in recent memory. Put it on your sporting calendar.
Will be back tomorrow (no false promises) with a recap and preview of Wednesday’s action. C’mon Liverpool.