Morbo Minute–La Liga Teams in the Land of Drawings

Earlier this season I took at a stab at predicting the results for Champions League Group Stages for those groups involving Spanish teams. After six MatchDays, the results are in. Let’s see how I did.

Group A
Projection:
FC Bayern Munchen (GER)
Manchester City FC (ENG)
Villarreal CF (ESP)
SSC Napoli (ITA)

CLUB

P

W

D

L

GD

PTS

Bayern

6

4

1

1

5

13

Napoli

6

3

2

1

4

11

Man City

6

3

1

2

3

10

Villarreal

6

0

0

6

-12

0

Villarreal’s season has been a disappointment so far, with the Yellow Submarine in the bottom half of the table. The Champions League offered no respite as Villarreal played several matches that were awful. Their defense was shredded on several occasions and up top they had very little, especially after Rossi went out. The highlight of the campaign was a thrilling 2-1 defeat at Manchester City, in which they started fast, kept the Citizens at bay for the most part, but in the end fell to a late, late goal from Aguero.

As for the rest of the group, Bayern continue their march towards the final in their home arena, but Napoli were the surprise package and, if they get a decent draw, could make quarters. Manchester City crashed out and it remains to be seen how seriously they take the Europa League.

Result: Horribly off the mark.

Group D
Projection:
Real Madrid CF (ESP)
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)
AFC Ajax (NED)
GNK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

CLUB

P

W

D

L

GD

PTS

Real Madrid

6

6

0

0

17

18

Lyon

6

2

2

2

2

8

Ajax

6

2

2

2

0

8

D Zagreb

6

0

0

6

-19

0

Real Madrid were magnificent and Los Blancos are a real threat to win competition. One word for their approach to the Group Stage: Ruthless.

Lyon snuck in the back door with a goal explosion, beating Dinamo Zagreb 7-1 which led to an investigation, while Ajax were supposedly jobbed by a referee corps who disallowed several goals.

Result: Spot on, thanks to an international conspiracy.

Group D
Projection:
Chelsea FC (ENG)
Valencia CF (ESP)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER)

KRC Genk (BEL)

CLUB

P

W

D

L

GD

PTS

Chelsea

6

3

2

1

9

11

Leverkusen

6

3

1

2

0

10

Valencia

6

2

2

2

5

8

Genk

6

0

3

3

-14

3

Valencia finished third. Los Che put in a good effort but went into last game under a lot of pressure, but so did Chelsea, and the Blues responded. Valencia’s failings started with opening game, a scoreless draw away to Genk. After that, they were always behind proverbial eight ball and couldn’t quite get back on track.

Leverkusen were a slight surprise but their victory against Chelsea on MatchDay Five put them in the catbird’s seat. Don’t see them doing much in the knockout. As for Chelsea, who knows? Come February, AVB may have righted the ship and they could be a factor. Or he could be fired and someone else could be leading Roman’s Army.

Result: Close but Valencia let me down.

Group H
Projection:
FC Barcelona (ESP)
AC Milan (ITA)
FC BATE Borisov (BLR)
FC Viktoria Pizen (CZE)

CLUB

P

W

D

L

GD

PTS

Barcelona

6

5

1

0

16

16

Milan

6

2

3

1

3

9

V Plzen

6

1

2

3

-7

5

BATE Borisov

6

0

2

4

-12

2

Barcelona were tested twice against Milan and had mixed responses. Milan parked the bus on MatchDay One at the Camp Nou and, while FCB broke them down, they never got the killer goal and were sucker punched at the beginning and end of the game. However at the San Siro, both teams were full of attacking vigor and it produced one of the best games of the group stage. For the rest of the campaign, they simply took care of business and got a chance to roll out the future in the last game against BATE.

AC Milan should be a tough out for whoever they draw. If they draw Bayern or Real Madrid, things could get very interesting. Don’t think they could beat them but they might weaken them for the quarters.

Result: Got 3rd and 4th wrong but I’m going to give myself a pat on the back anyway.

—————

The draws for the Champions League and the Europa League were made on Friday and produced a mixture of interesting, mouth watering and ridiculous ties:

First games to be played on Feb 14-15, 21-22

Lyon

v

APOEL Nicosia

Napoli

v

Chelsea

AC Milan

v

Arsenal

FC Basel

v

Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen

v

Barcelona

CSKA Moscow

v

Real Madrid

Zenit St Peterburg

v

Benfica

Marseille

v

Inter Milan

Lyon have to the luckiest sons of a gun on the planet.  Ajax left them for dead, and not only do Les Gones sneak into the knockout, they get APOEL.  Surely they will progress just on sheer experience and then get hammered by one of the big teams.

Arsenal v AC Milan should be really good.  Both teams will probably feel they can advance and it will be interesting to see where each team is in February.

Depending on Chelsea’s form, I could see Napoli taking them out.

Marseille v Inter could be worse than Marseille against United last year.  Avoid this tie at all costs.

With the Zenit/Benfica tie, there will be at least one smaller club in the last eight.  Both teams have recent and historic pedigree respectively, and the big teams will be queuing up to get the winner of these two legs in the quarters.

As for the Spanish teams, FCB has had success against German teams over the last couple of years (sneaking by Schalke in 2008 and crushing Bayern in 2009 and Stuttgart in 2010) and I don’t see them being troubled too much this tie.  Might be tight away but the Blaugrana should take care of business at the Nou Camp.

Real Madrid will have a tough away trip.  Imagine Jose will play it tight to the vest and the carve the Russians open at the Bernabeu.

The Europa League may be considered a second rate competition but look at some of these matches (my picks in BOLD):

Games to be played on Feb 16 and 23

FC Porto

v

Manchester City

Ajax

v

Manchester United

Lokomotiv Moscow

v

Athletic Bilbao

FC Salzburg

v

Metalist Kharkiv

Stoke City

v

Valencia

Rubin Kazan

v

Olympiakos

AZ Alkmaar

v

Anderlecht

Lazio

v

Atletico Madrid

Steaua Bucharest

v

FC Twente

Viktoria Plzen

v

Schalke

Wisla Krakow

v

Standard Liege

SC Braga

v

Besiktas

Udinese

v

PAOK Salonika

Trabzonspor

v

PSV Eindhoven

Hannover

v

Club Brugge

Legia Warsaw

v

Sporting Lisbon

Valencia should get past Stoke; can’t see Atleti getting by Lazio; and Athletic will surely need to get something in the first leg in Moscow.  Guess I might have to watch this competition after all.

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