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Sports Watch
Champions League Special

By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam

The best and most prestigious club football tournament in the world returns to the streets of some of Europe's biggest cities this coming week. London, Munich, Madrid and Manchester come alive during the 22nd and 23rd of February as Champions League football resumes after a near three month long hiatus.

The December draw for the second round of the Champions League threw up some real highlights and fans all over will get to see some vintage football action during the last week of February as the first legs are played out over two days. The football community in Dhaka is on their toes anticipating great action in the days ahead.

So yours truly thought that this was a good time to spice things up a tad bit more. I will try and run the microscope over all the matches and best of all is that I will stick my head out and predict the winner of the first leg in each and every case. And if that's not putting your head on the line I don't know what is!!
Lets move on to the serious stuff!!

Real Madrid v Juventus: A clash of two of the biggest heavyweights in football. Juve were truly spectacular in the first half of the season conceding just one goal (that too in a dead rubber). They have however, looked vulnerable of late with two defeats in the Serie A.

Real Madrid are playing like they only can. 'Los Galacticos' as they are more commonly known have been in scintillating form of late and the Zidanes and Beckhams and Ronaldos seem to be clicking at just the right time. Their defence is still very shaky though and that is a worrying factor.

Player Watch: Pavel Nedved (Juventus), Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Prediction: Real 2-1 Juve

Liverpool v Leverkusen: Much has been made of Liverpool, their Spanish connection and their terribly boring style of play. But none of it takes away the fact that they are the most successful English team in European history so far. They have been in relatively good form of late though.

Leverkusen are the dark horses in this years tourney and are playing some of the best football in Germany if not all of Europe at the moment. Rest assured this will be a very competitive tie though the Anfield factor gives Liverpool the edge

Player Watch: Fernando Morientes, Steve Gerard (Liverpool), Berbatov (Leverkusen)
Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Leverkusen

Bayern 20:45 Arsenal: The big clash of the first day of action sees another Anglo-German clash as the English Champions face the best team in Germany. Arsenal loss to Manchester Utd in the league seems to have reinforced rather than belie their belief that they can go the distance in Europe. Bayern have been in solid form since the winter break keeping a clean sheet in all their games. In the Olympiastadion, Bayern can count themselves favorites to progress.

Player Watch: Micheal Ballack, Roy Maakay (Bayern) Theirry Henry, Patrick Viera(Arsenal)
Prediction: Bayern 2-1 Arsenal
PSV 20:45 Monaco:
Monaco look a shoe in for victory ahead of a very mediocre Dutch side.

Player Watch: Mark Van Bommel (PSV) Chevanton, Jaiver Saviola (Monaco)
Prediction: PSV 1-3 Monaco
Porto 20:45 Internazionale:
Inter Milan are the sole unbeaten team in Europe at the moment and they are firm favorites ahead of last year Champs Porto who advanced just by the skin of their teeth. A free flowing high scoring game in prospect

Player Watch: Diego, Ricardo Quaresma (Porto) Vieri, Adriano (Inter Milan)
Prediction: Porto 2-3 Inter Milan
Barcelona 20:
45Chelsea:Arguably the biggest clash of the night at the fantastic Camp Nou, Barcelona. Ronaldinho and co. will be gunning themselves to take on Mourinho's solid Chelsea who look set to miss Arjen Robben-that could yet prove the decisive factor.

Player Watch: Ronaldinho, Xavi(Barcelona) John Terry, Frank Lampard(Chelsea)
Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea
Man. United 20:45 Milan:
Another mouthwatering tie. Man Utd have been in exceptional form of late and are playing their first leg at Old Trafford.

However, Milan are possibly the most complete team in the world at the moment. The clash between Sheva and Rio looks like the chief determinant. Theories abound. Looks likely to be a humdinger of a match.

Player Watch: Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd) Andriy Shevchenko, Kaka (Milan)
Prediction: Man Utd 1-1 Milan
Bremen 20:45 Lyon:
One of the low profile clashes, but appearances can be deceiving. Both teams advanced from tough groups and have beaten their share of big teams along the way.

The clash at the WeserStadion, just beside the River Weser in Germany could yet turn out to be the most exciting game of the second round.

Player Watch: Johan Micoud, Miro Klose (Werder Bremen) Juninho Pernambruncho (Lyon)
Bremen 3-2 Lyon
That's about it. Good watching and hope your team makes it. As it is, I am hoping mine goes through. Cheers!!





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