Champions League Predictions

It’s getting to that time of year again. The European leagues are coming to a conclusion and the crowning jewel that is the Champions League enters its final phases. Today I’ll take a look at the quarter final fixtures and who I think will progress.

 

Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund

I fear for the Germans in this tie. Real Madrid steamrolled through the group stage and are looking strong. Although they’ve lost two of the last three in the league, I don’t see them losing against an ever weakening Dortmund. It won’t be a forgone conclusion though, as Robert Lewandowski provides an ever-present threat, demonstrated when he scored four against Madrid last year.

Prediction: Real Madrid.

 

Chelsea vs PSG

I don’t think this tie will be as close as it looks on paper. PSG have been very good this year but I don’t think they will have what it takes to beat the 2012 champions. With Hazard and Schurrle hitting fine form, it will be difficult to see PSG holding them at bay. In my opinion Ibrahimovic is an absolutely fantastic player, but is over-hyped. Although he is likely to bag a goal or two, the man that will win this tie will be Jose Mourinho. The tactical master, he won’t get this one wrong.

Prediction: Chelsea.

 

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

Arguably the tie of the round, this match up could go either way. With Atletico and Barcelona slugging it out at the top of La Liga, this will provide another platform for these two teams to do battle. The pace of the game is likely to be higher than a reguler La Liga match, but played with the same intensity. No one will want to lose this, but you feel whoever loses will stand a better chance in the league. Going with my heart and saying Diego Costa will lead the line admirably.

Prediction: Atletico Madrid.

 

Diego Costa

Diego Costa

 

Manchester United vs Bayern Munich

Anything can happen in football and that is why we love it. However, Man United will simply not have enough to beat Bayern that has remarkably improved from it’s treble winning side last year. Having scraped through against Olympiakos, the flaws Manchester United have will be magnified, then blown apart. No mercy, the Bayern juggernaut will continue.

Prediction: Bayern Munich.

 

What do you think? Have I got my predictions spot on or am I another plonker who doesn’t know a football from a rugby ball? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Photo: Denis Doyle / Getty Images

Advertisements

My tribute to Ayrton Senna

I really enjoyed this 🙂

BetiseSportsWorld

I had the privilege and the pleasure to work closely to Ayrton for over 4 years and to have known him for another 7 years. So much has been said and published about him it is impossible to be original and very difficult to be creative. So I’d like to mark his birthday  by publishing a few of his best quotes to the public and a few things he said to me in private.

Today he would have turned 54. Sometimes I still think I will bump into him somewhere: at the Berkeley’s Hotel, where he used to stay when in London; at Wimbledon, where we bumped into each other in 1987; in the kIngs Road when he brought his last girlfriend Adriane Galisteu. I will be posting these stories separately from today until 1st May.

Ayrton giving an interview, I am near him

Here are my chosen quotes. Of course, I  have no intention of…

View original post 409 more words

Ayrton Senna: The Greatest of All Time

Today, March 21, marks what would be Ayrton Senna’s 54th birthday.

Born in a neighbourhood of Sao Paulo, Ayrton showed a flair for racing from an early age. Like most Formula One drivers he started in go-kart racing. At the tender age of 13 he won the South America Kart Championship.

Ayrton Senna started single seater racing in Britain in 1981. He was offered a drive and £10,000 for his second season in 1982. At this stage he was already back in Brazil having ‘retired’ from racing, to continue with his family’s business at home. He won the Ford 2000 British and European Championships, which propelled him to Formula 3 for the ’83 season.

After failing to secure a seat from several teams for the Formula One season in 1984, Senna signed for the new Toleman team. He secured three podiums in his debut season.

 

AUTO-F1-SENNA-ESTORIL

 

His rise to the top was nothing short of meteoric. Coming from a privileged background Senna was rarely in need of anything, but a desire to be the best was what drove him. He was incredibly intelligent and immeasurably competitive. After winning an exhibition race at the Nurnburgring in 1984 in an identical car to Niki Lauda, he was quoted as saying: “Now I know I can do it.”

He delivered his three World Championships in 1988, 1990 and 1991. He could have won the 1989 World Championship but was taken out by Alain Prost at the Suzuka Chicane. Senna exacted revenge the following year by taking out Prost in the first corner of the same track and clinched the title. These two events are only small reminders of one of the greatest rivalries in sport history.

 

What made Senna Special?

 

The thing that differentiated Senna from ever other driver was his intense passion. A passion that would see him strive to be better, faster, stronger. A passion which ultimately led to his untimely death at Imola in ’94. When he drove, he drove like a man possessed. Some people thought he was possessed by demons behind the wheel. The other drivers were fearful of his life. They guessed that wining was more important than living to him – he pushed his limits beyond what anybody could ever imagine. A testament to this was his pole position at Monaco in ’88. Already on pole position he pushed further and further. Suddenly staring in to the abyss, he saw himself looking back.  He ended up a monumental two seconds faster than rival Alain Prost in an identical McLaren.

“Suddenly, it frightened me, because I realised I was well beyond my conscious understanding. I drove back slowly to the pits and did not go out anymore that day.”

Apart from being phenomenally talented, he was compelling to listen to. When he spoke, every time he opened his mouth a soliloquy would sound. He saw racing as a metaphor for life. He was unwavering in his awareness of his own morality, and used fear as a method of control his boundaries.

“For me, this research is fascinating. Every time I push, I find something more, again and again. But there is a contradiction. The same moment that you become the fastest, you are enormously fragile. Because in a split-second, it can be gone. All of it. These two extremes contribute to knowing yourself, deeper and deeper.”

Clearly we can see the enormous genius behind the man. He was as talented with words as he was behind the wheel – but his generosity was unmatched. He saw a vision for a better Brazil where people lived not in poverty, but able to fend f

or themselves comfortably. He was a strong advocate of charity and donated an estimated $400 million when he died to help fund a better future for the underprivileged of Brazil.

When he died he received a state funeral in Brazil. Millions turned out to send off the great ambassador of life. Such was his popularity that the country went in to three days of mourning. The scenes of mourning are shown in the fantastic documentary ‘Senna’, in which I challenge anybody to watch and hold back the tears.

Senna Funeral

The streets of Sao Paulo during Ayrton Senna’s funeral procession.

In an age where public relations is as important as the lap times you set, this is a salute to the man who tore up the rule book, spoke from the heart, earning a mythological status in F1 and drove with one ambition in mind: to win.

 

I want to live fully, very intensely. I would never want to live partially, suffering from illness or injury. If I ever happen to have an accident that eventually costs my life, I hope it happens in one instant.”

Ayrton Senna (1960-1994)

Toughest Champions League draw in recent memory

The Champions League round of 16 concluded on Wednesday night when both Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund sealed their places in the quarter final draw tomorrow.

There were no shocks in the round of 16 as each team that was expected to win won their matches with relative ease. The only game that ever looked in doubt was Manchester United overturning their first leg deficit to Olympiakos of Greece. A clinical Robin van Persie hat-trick saw the Red Devils through to the last eight in their first season under David Moyes.

With the draw for the last eight taking place tomorrow, the draw looks to be one of the strongest ever. With each of the remaining teams able to put forward a strong case for why they could go all the way, a winner could come from anywhere.

Of all the teams remaining it looks as if Manchester United are the most vulnerable. This is a bold claim to make, but it also shows the strength of the draw. Beating a mediocre Olympiakos will give Moyes some respite, but there is no hiding their inadequacies from the quarter finals. Surprise package of the tournament Atletico Madrid rubber stamped their credentials with a 5-1 aggregate demolition of Italian giants AC Milan. PSG similarly annihilated Bayer Leverkusen 6-1 on aggregate, with a 4-0 win in Germany. 

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea join last seasons winners Bayern Munich to complete the quarter final.

Real Madrid and Barcelona’s strengths lie in their attacking prowess, whereas Chelsea will have the tactical mastery of Jose Mourinho to guide them. Bayern Munich have effectively won the Bundesliga already, so they can shift a lot of their focus to their European exploits in their first season with serial winner Pep Guardiola at the helm.

Robben

What we don’t know is who will be the outright winner, but I would put my money on Munich to win. I can’t get behind the claim that Real Madrid are the strongest, because they are there every year but always come a cropper. My friend (@John_Larkin316) had Atletico as his dark horse from the start of the competition and they are still in the mix. What I do know is that I’ll be watching the draw tomorrow in anticipation of monumental clashes!

Can Arsenal overcome Bayern’s brilliance?

Tonight, Arsenal take on Bayern Munich in a game where the Gunners have much to prove. Trailing 2-0 from their first leg fixture, the North London club are going to have to do something no team has done in 49 games; beat Bayern Munich.

This will be an extra special match as Arsenal have set the previous unbeaten record at 49 games, and a victory for the Germans tonight will see them topple that statistic.

Asked if they can beat Bayern Munich, Arsene Wenger pointed to the past and the fact Arsenal beat Bayern in Munich last season and Dortmund in Germany this season.

“History is important in our belief. We know we can do it, because we have already done it.”

The game kicks off in the Allianz Arena at 7:45pm tonight.

Image