The Champion’s League quarterfinal match-ups are set. Which 4 teams will advance to the Champion’s League semi-finals?
It is obvious that Galatasaray wants to win. They were the big spenders and the headline makers during the January transfer window. For me, big names aren’t always the way to a sudden victory. That being said, drawing Shalke in the Champion’s League Round of 16 is a good start towards a deep run in the tournament. The question comes down to whether or not Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder can bring the team to glory. According to a FoxSoccer.com post, management is confident Galatasaray can win it all, “We have added Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba to an already very strong team,” enthused sporting director Bulent Tulun. “I think we can go all the way to the end of the Champions League and win it, I really do.”
This duo can certainly change a team’s dynamic but can they lead the Turkish giants to a Champion’s League triumph? This tournament is the team’s priority so I could see them making a run, but I give them a 3% chance of making the final and a .00045 chance of winning the thing. There is too much talent elsewhere for these two to bring this team to glory.
Fear Factor on a scale of jigglypuff to el diablo = Batman, you always think he is going to go for the kill, but he never does. That will Galatasaray in the coming weeks.
Porto is an interesting case. They are tied atop the Portuguese first division and they play an exciting style of football. High pressure, with quick attacks at times and decent build up at times. Yesterday vs Malaga they proved how good of a side they can be. It was a comprehensive win. The scoreline was only 1-0 but it could have been five. Porta was smart and decisive in the team’s movement and play and if they bring that same resolve to each remaining game it would not surprise me to see them in the semi-final round. A key role is played by Joao Moutinho who was linked with some big Premier League clubs during the past few transfer windows. This play-maker was the best player on the pitch during Porto’s Champion’s League victory and he will be key to the team’s continued success.
Still, Porto has a long road ahead and who knows if that same style of football can or will be successful in future rounds. (Malaga has no shot recovering a win out of this tie)
Fear Factor on a scale of jigglypuff to el diablo =Roadrunner. Roadrunner is good at escaping and evading its attackers but the attackers always find a way to make things very very difficult. Porto is in a similar light, the only question is who will finally end the team’s run?
Only time will tell. It will be exciting to watch the tournament unfold.
Rosters are officially locked in for the final 4 months of the football season. The recent closing of the January transfer window provided the last opportunity for clubs to add quality to their rosters. There wasn’t what some would consider a “blockbuster deal”. There wasn’t a transfer fee over £20m and in today’s world of football economics, that is fairly tame to say the least. However, that is not to say teams did not significantly improve their squads. Here are a few of the most recent transfers that already could be considered successes.
Nacho Monreal – Malaga to Arsenal (£10m)
Some will say this was a reaction to the expected month without Kieran Gibbs due to a leg injury and that may be true, however Arsenal were in need of a much needed upgrade at the left back position. Gibbs is a great young player, don’t get me wrong – he simply can’t stay healthy. It just shows you how much of a need Monreal was to Arsene Wenger when he immediately thrust him into first team duty a day after signing to the club. He answered the calling as he helped an inconsistent back 4 come away with a clean sheet against Stoke City on Saturday. Granted, Stoke didn’t exactly provide the attacking prowess of a Manchester club, but that also hasn’t stopped Arsenal from giving up goals to lesser opponents either (see Swansea, Fulham, and the Liverpool matches). God only knows how many goals would have been conceded if Santos played an entire 90 minutes at left back. Not only did Nacho provide some stability to the defense, he showed some skill on the ball going forward. Many Arsenal supporters will argue Arsenal could have used another attacking signing or two, but it seems Arsene has once again found value in a quality player on deadline day. (For a more in depth look at Arsenal, check out another recent blog post from kvenezia.)
Daniel Sturridge – Chelsea to Liverpool (£12m)
With the impending arrival of Demba Ba from Newcastle at the beginning of the transfer window, Chelsea suddenly had a surplus of attackers and Daniel Sturridge was the odd man out. So he was abruptly shipped to Liverpool who were in dire need of an offensive spark. Liverpool immediately saw glimpses of Sturridge’s potential as he scored a goal in each of his first 3 appearances for his new club. His fourth and most recent goal tied up the match against Manchester City at 1-1 where the teams saw out a 2-2 draw. They still haven’t beaten a team ahead of them in the standings; however, the last two matches could be considered statement matches for Liverpool. A 2-2 draw against Arsenal and Manchester City may provide the confidence they need to finally push for a top 4 finish and Sturridge may very well be the attacker they were looking for to compliment Luis Suarez going forward. You can’t ask for much more from a newly acquired player than to score 4 goals (2 Premier League/2 FA Cup) in his first 6 matches for his new club. Daniel has already played more minutes for Liverpool in the last 6 matches than he did for Chelsea during the first half of the season. It seems like this transfer was a win-win for both teams involved and it’s not very often that can be said.
Moussa Sissoko – Toulouse to Newcastle United (Undisclosed Fee)
With Demba Ba off to Chelsea, Newcastle had some cash to spend. It took them a couple of weeks but they landed Moussa Sissoko a week before the window closed. The 23 year old midfielder had been at French side Toulouse since he was a youth at just 13 years old. So his switch to the Premier League should have required a bit of an adjustment period for Moussa considering the higher level of play in the Premier League. He was also thrown into the starting lineup right away. In his first Premier League match against Aston Villa, Moussa provided the assist to Papiss Cisse to open the scoring. Newcastle ended up seeing out a 2-1 victory. He followed up his good debut with an even better showing against Chelsea this past Saturday by scoring a brace in a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Blues. Down 1-2, Moussa put in a rebound past Petr Cech to level up the score. As extra time ticked on, Moussa took a pass at the top of the 18 yard box and fired a low line shot through the Chelsea defenders and past Cech again to win the match 3-2. Moussa has shown that a Premier League “rookie” can step right in and provide a spark to a new club. Newcastle can only hope he keeps up his form since joining the club. (For more on Newcastle, check out another recent blog post from leftymagic.)
Mario Balotelli – Manchester City to AC Milan (£19m)
The highest profile and most expensive transfer of the January window was of course the Italian International and former Manchester City player Mario Balotelli to AC Milan. Another deadline day deal that was thrown into the starting lineup following day, Balotelli had a marvelous debut for the club he supported as a youngster. Milan knew they were getting a player with massive potential, but could he put his focus on the pitch to be the player everyone thinks he can be? If his first match was any indication, it’ll be a fun ride for Milan and its supporters. Against Udinese on Saturday, he volleyed home a beautiful side-footed goal from close range. He followed that up with the match-clinching penalty kick in the93rdminute (see what I did there?).
For additional transfer saga reading, you’ll want to check out mcmigs’s take on the Wilfred Zaha transfer.