Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Last 16 - Straight Knockout Son

Not quite straight elimination, but it's time for Europe's top club competition to get interesting.

Geezer can't pick all the winners (or I'd be in Vegas rather than at my 'real job'), but I'm going to try and pick the best team from each country (that has a realistic chance of winning it) and see if they end up as our Final 4.

The German option is easy. Bayern Munich are the best team out there right now. The fact that they are playing Arsenal means that Arsene Wenger's team have little chance of progressing. Bayern are a beast of a team right now, and only complacency can stop them advancing in my opinion.

For Spain, I'm taking Real Madrid. Barca and Atletico are two great teams, but Real have an easier tie to start with and are playing some great football. Teams seem to have a plan against Lionel Messi and Barcelona (although only Bayern have really pulled it off), but Cristiano can't be stopped. He creates so much by himself, and I think he may carry Real all the way to the semi-finals this year.

The English team is very hard to pick. Chelsea and Manchester United have easier draws in the last 16, but the latter can't win it. Moyes is just not tactically aware - he can't deal with Fulham, so no way that Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans can keep out Real, Barca or Bayern. Chelsea have a shot - it depends on the draw, but they may be a striker short from really competing. I've already ruled out Arsenal due to them playing the holders, so Manchester City are my pick for the last 4. It means beating Barcelona, but as long as Martin DeMichelis doesn't play, then they have a chance.

Of the remaining teams, I like PSG. They are more solid than in recent years and can score against anyone. Zlatan seems to know it's his time to shine, especially as he won't be in Brazil in the summer.

So it's Bayern, Real Madrid, PSG and one other for me. I said Manchester City, but I don't even buy it myself. I don't think an English team will make it to the last 4 this year, but it all depends on the draw. At this stage, you only need to win 3 ties to make the final. And that's why we love it.