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Mourinho will relish Man Utd test

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Phil McNulty | 12:04 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Jose Mourinho announced that he wanted an English club in the last 16 of the Champions League - and "The Special One" usually gets what he wants.

So it was with a degree of inevitability that Mourinho's Inter Milan were paired with holders Manchester United in a draw that will have Europe's football community drooling.

Mourinho is box office and big headlines all wrapped up in an expensive black overcoat, and that will be some walk down the touchline for the second leg at Old Trafford.

United's meeting with Inter is the main news - but the rest of the draw is littered with reunions and mouth-watering games that also give England's quartet every chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

Liverpool meet Real Madrid in a game that gives Rafael Benitez a return to his old club (who have wanted to make him their manager on countless occasions allegedly) and Juande Ramos the chance to show the Premier League he was not the hapless figure he cut so often at Spurs.

Chelsea welcome back The Tinkerman himself in the shape of Claudio Ranieri and his Juventus side - a manager with a personality much-loved at Stamford Bridge, even if the same did not always apply to his tactics.

Arsenal, meanwhile, will be cautiously optimistic, despite being paired with the dangerous AS Roma, who beat Chelsea convincingly in the group stage of the Champions League.

For Chelsea and Arsenal, the main business of the draw was avoiding Barcelona, no matter how many brave words were issued on that subject from inside Stamford Bridge and The Emirates.

But there is only one place to start - and that is with Mourinho's meeting with the old foe Sir Alex Ferguson.

I am an unashamed Mourinho fan and it is my conviction - without any mischief-making whatsoever you understand - that he will be United's next manager once Sir Alex decides to abdicate.

Mourinho will relish being the centre of England's attention once more and will drink in every second of the huge attention his return will create.

He enjoyed a cordial relationship with Ferguson off the field, and a successful one on it, effectively rounding off his Chelsea reign with an FA Cup Final win over United in 2007.

And just wait for those endless re-runs of Mourinho's 100-yard dash down the Old Trafford sidelines when he ended United's hopes of winning the trophy in 2004, when Francisco Costinha's last-minute leveller allowed Porto to take a huge stride towards claiming the prize themselves.

United will have the usual pressure applied to the holders, but the weight of expectation will be on Mourinho's shoulders.

Inter Milan may lead Serie A, but he has not been brought in to win a domestic title - those have been commonplace for the great old Italian club in recent seasons.

Mourinho has been employed by Inter to win the Champions League, a trophy that has eluded them in its different guises since 1965, an astonishing statistic their hierarchy expects him to put right.

And for all his tactical awareness and knowledge of how to beat Ferguson, United will start as favourites because Inter's European form has been patchy, losing at home to Panathinaikos and away to Werder Bremen.

United will prey on an ageing defence that has proved vulnerable in Europe, although the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be a threat if he finally chooses to demonstrate to an English audience what all the fuss is about.

Liverpool dealt with Inter comfortably at this stage last season, and Ferguson will be relaxed about the task awaiting United.

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I expect United, with the attacking riches on offer in the shape of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov, to have too much for Inter.

But with the cunning, intelligent - and more importantly hugely successful - Mourinho at the helm, it would be wrong to write Inter off.

Liverpool will feel confident of seeing off a disjointed Real Madrid side, but there is time for Ramos to cure some of their ills before the first match in late February.

Real will also have Klaas Jan Huntelaar eligible to play after his £17m move from Ajax, while Portsmouth's Lassana Diarra looks certain to be another recruit.

And will former Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek, now understudy to Iker Casillas and the hero of Liverpool's 2005 Champions League win against AC Milan, pass on a few of Benitez's European tactical secrets?

Real will be stronger for those arrivals, but with the second leg at Anfield I would expect Liverpool to be too strong for Real over two games.

Juventus will also provide stern opposition for Chelsea, but Luiz Felipe Scolari will be happy to have missed Barcelona, and I fancy last season's runners-up to navigate what will be a tricky assigment.

Chelsea will hope to have almost a full compliment of players by the time the ties are played, and even though Juve topped their group and improved from earlier in the season when Ranieri's post was under threat, they should reach the last eight.

Arsenal, again, will feel they can harbour realistic ambitions of beating Roma, although they will prove especially dangerous on their own territory and are still inspired by the talismanic figure of Francesco Totti.

If Arsenal can avoid having one of those off-colour performances that have damaged their Premier League bid this season, then they can reach the quarter-finals for the second successive season.

But if they let their standards slip, as they have done too often recently, then Luciano Spalletti's side will punish them.

It is a superb draw full of quality and intrigue. Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea can be optimistic of progress, as can Arsenal if the right team turns up against Roma.

But we all know who will be claiming the headlines - Mourinho's return cannot come soon enough.

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:34pm on 19 Dec 2008, Samwell2804 wrote:

    Good Blog Phil

    I also cannot wait for the "Special Ones" return to English soil, as I was also a massive fan of his enigmatic character, he brought something new and fresh to the Premiership that has sadly being missing since he left!

    All in all its been a very intriguing and enthralling Championds League draw for a change, normally it always seems to end up with the big teams missing each other and playing the so called 'second seeded' teams?!

    Cant wait for Feb/Mar now :-)

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  • 2. At 2:39pm on 19 Dec 2008, 27 wrote:

    Mourinho to manage United? Please tell me it ain't so... he wouldn't know what to do with 2 wingers in a month of Sundays.

    Great draw though, there are some big names that are going to bite the dust at the first hurdle. Which will open it up a bit for a dark horse to make a run at getting to the latter stages. There'll be plenty of red button use on Sky match nights to keep up with all the action! It probably been the best draw for some years.

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  • 3. At 2:47pm on 19 Dec 2008, cryin' white tears wrote:

    After the patchy performances of the Premierships' top four this season, anything can happen. They aren't the safe bets they were in the last few years.

    Barcelona have to be favorites as they have been consistent.

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  • 4. At 2:58pm on 19 Dec 2008, chapanella wrote:

    Mourinho will NOT be the next manager of Manchester United. That will be Martin O' Neill.

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  • 5. At 2:59pm on 19 Dec 2008, whatbill wrote:

    A great draw. All 4 of the english teams will need to be close to their best to get through - United's looks like the hardest but Juve and Madrid both have excellent champions league pedigree and Roma deserved to beat chelsea in the group stages. I predict 1 english team will go out, hard to pick which one though!

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  • 6. At 3:00pm on 19 Dec 2008, beto1960 wrote:

    Mourinho is now cursing his luck !!!

    He really wanted to avoid Barcelona and Man Utd. Forget what he said before the draw , that was just to get his name in the press.

    I have seen Inter play several times this year , they have never looked convincing in what is at the moment the weakest Serie A that I can remember.
    I would say that Man Utd will go through comfortably if they play their normal game.
    The danger is if Ferguson tinkers with the team tactics which has been Man Utd´s downfall so many times in Europe.

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  • 7. At 3:03pm on 19 Dec 2008, dandolinho wrote:

    excellent draw, im looking forward to it very much, uniteds as much as liverpools tbh

    united should b confident, inter wer spineless last season, n if they play anything like they did against liverpool then united will breeze thru... on that note tho, as we all kno, jose is a genuis at times (met his match with liverpool in this competition, but forged his rep against united) n i dont think he'll play zlatan.. part of inters problem last season against most of the big sides overall but liverpool particullaly was zlatan goes missing in the big games.. its one thing being good enough to score goals against chievo n livorno (all due respect) but when u come up against a top defence, n u wont find many better than uniteds he just doesnt cut it. for me, adrianno will play, big n strong, he'll give nemaja n ria a tough time, n even if he aint up for it, he is still likely to do more damage just bustling for the ball that zlatan will (but i hope he proves me wrong)

    liverpools task is still as hard, altho not in great shape, u can count on them turning on the style, they aint played us in competitive cometition since 81 when we beat them.. revenge will almost certainly b on the cards. but even with the inlusion of huntelaar i still dont c madrid doing enough, their squad is still thread bare... which is why they are struggling n the inclusion of the dutchman n diarra wont really make much of a difference for me to the team.

    but im going to b totally blunt, i love that we have madrid, the prestige of the tie is amazing... but if we do go out, it may b a blessing in disguise for us, coz i kno im not alone is saying that we want the league n to b able to concentrate on that while the others navigate triky away fixtures to tough opposition will only help us go for that ellusive cup

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  • 8. At 3:10pm on 19 Dec 2008, LostNowhere wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 9. At 3:10pm on 19 Dec 2008, dandolinho wrote:

    oh, n yeah, i too cant c jose being the next united manager, but i cant c it being o neil either.. think united will go for some1 of the callibur of jose, they'll need some1 like that to handle all the big name players n i dont think martin could.. there are alot of egos in that dressing room remember.. maybe(hopefully) 1 less, the biggest of them all (plz go to madrid ronny) :P

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  • 10. At 3:11pm on 19 Dec 2008, JoeStimo wrote:

    GREAT CHANCE OF WINNING THE COMP NOW...THE BEST TEAMS ARE ALL DRAWN TOGETHER, SO IF WE (MAN UTD) CAN GET PAST "THE CHILDISH ONE", WE SHOULD GO ALL THE WAY!!

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  • 11. At 3:16pm on 19 Dec 2008, adrian_chiles_fan wrote:

    Top draw!

    I love this time of year and love the champions league! I think its even better than the F.A cup most of the time as these are top teams going against each other and I go out of my way to see them every year. The excietment from last year is still strong this year and all the premiership teams will be throwing down the gauntlet with other top teams.

    Perfectly formatted tournement in my opinion (UEFA cup is poor in comparison with organisation) and can't wait!

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  • 12. At 3:17pm on 19 Dec 2008, TalamhGlas wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 3:20pm on 19 Dec 2008, ojohnnyboy wrote:

    united should beat inter no probs.

    berbatov is a massive liability for us he slows down our counter attacks and has basically ruined our attacking play, hes too slow and doesnt put any effort into the game at all... thats the only worry i have for united.

    great draw overall, some really good games to look forward to.

    my teams to qualify are:
    chelsea
    villarreal
    bayern
    atletico
    barca
    liverpool
    arsenal
    united

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  • 14. At 3:22pm on 19 Dec 2008, G_is_God wrote:

    Juande Ramos you are having a laugh! El Nino will tear them to pieces

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  • 15. At 3:23pm on 19 Dec 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    Manchester United shall beat Inter Milan in the Champions League, over the two legs.

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  • 16. At 3:23pm on 19 Dec 2008, highthief wrote:

    Great to get Real - this is what the Champions League is all about: England's most successful team versus Spain's, 2 of the big 3 of Europe, Liverpool v. Madrid. Fantastic!

    Can see United and Arsenal getting through, but Juve is a very tough draw for Chelsea.

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  • 17. At 3:23pm on 19 Dec 2008, ArsenalArseneArshavin wrote:

    all the ties are 50/50. None of the english teams have looked great in the group stages.

    united won 2 of 6 games, chelsea just about reached the KO stages.

    Arsenal needed a last minute goal so secure progress against Kiev.

    Liverpool didnt impress in a very weak group.

    A lot of things can change till february and I expect barca to decline in the 2nd part of the season. Its impossible to maintain that level of consistency throughout a season.

    Nothing is ispossible

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  • 18. At 3:24pm on 19 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    Oh here we go, one more blog and once more the author is having a laugh.

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  • 19. At 3:26pm on 19 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    "I love this time of year and love the champions league! I think its even better than the F.A cup most of the time"


    Oh really, coz I had a suspicion that the FA cup is better doh

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  • 20. At 3:29pm on 19 Dec 2008, boils wrote:

    lay off the tabloid stuff. No one who saw what Ramos did at Sevilla will think he is hapless.

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  • 21. At 3:32pm on 19 Dec 2008, dandolinho wrote:

    nikosbg is bk... woot.. cant wait for this :)

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  • 22. At 3:34pm on 19 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 3:34pm on 19 Dec 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Liverpool fans seem in very confident mood. It will be very interesting to see what Real do between now and when the games are played.

    If Liverpool fashion any sort of result at The Bernabeu, I fancy them to finish the job at Anfield.

    Which English team do you think has the toughest task?

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  • 24. At 3:36pm on 19 Dec 2008, Roman Philosopher wrote:

    Dear SamplattsKronenbourg...

    You are being a bit harsh on Jose re wingers...

    He won the league in 2005 using Robben and Duff regularly

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  • 25. At 3:37pm on 19 Dec 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    And is response to Boils...my comment re. Ramos being hapless is very clearly, and very specifically, a reference to Spurs.

    I stand by that given his record at Spurs this season and the dramatic improvement they have made since his departure.

    He was outstanding at Sevilla. He was not outstanding at Spurs.

    Time will tell if he can make the improvements Real require.

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  • 26. At 3:37pm on 19 Dec 2008, Chad Secksington wrote:

    Mourinho's record is good, but not exceptional, he has never really managed anyone that was struggling, he's never turned a club around.

    He started his main jobs with Porto, a club that had finished in the top two in Portugal for 28 of the past 30 years, yes he won the European Cup but he had a sizeable slice of luck when United had a legitimate goal chalked off for offside, got the rub of the draw when getting Lyon and Deportivo, and then struck lucky again when Monaco managed to turn Chelsea over to reach the final, where they lost their captain and talisman Ludovic Giuly to injury in the middle of the first half.

    He then took over at Chelsea where he took the reins of a team that finished 3rd in the league and had just been handed the greatest transfer budget in British football history.

    Then he was given the job of managing the 3 times reigning Italian champions.

    So yes Mourinho's record as a manager is good, but his record at landing plum jobs at the right time is pretty much without peer.

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  • 27. At 3:39pm on 19 Dec 2008, redandblackT-Save 606 wrote:

    Dont write Inter's chances off.both sides have an array of attacking talent in Ronaldo,Berbatov,Rooney,Adriano,Ibrahimovic and Stankovic.But i do believe the battle down the flanks are gonna be key.The duel between Ronaldo and the equally amazing Maicon will be key.
    Defensively while United have Vidic and Rio Inter have the equally talented but unheralded Samuel and Cordoba.The unbelievably inept Burdisso hopefully should not be in the line up.
    To me the teams are equally matched but Inter,coming off a winter break,should just have enough to top United coming back from their excursions in Japan and a tough festive schedule!

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  • 28. At 3:42pm on 19 Dec 2008, JM75UK wrote:

    All the English clubs have tasty ties,but why is everyone saying Man U V Inter is the tie of the round?

    How many European cups do they have between them compared to Liverpool and Real Madrid?

    The answer? Nowhere near as many and for that fact alone,not to mention Real trying to poach Benitez and the 81 final,this makes Liverpool V Real Madrid THE tie of the round.

    If all the English clubs play half decently they should all progress,but if I was to say there was one tie that could cause an upset,it would be the Man U V Inter one.

    I just feel that Mourinho will be amped up for this tie after his losses to Liverpool and he will go all out to make sure he is not dumped out three times in a row by an English club.

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  • 29. At 3:44pm on 19 Dec 2008, pineapple wrote:

    I agree with whatbill in that all of the English sides will have to be close to their best to go through. All are tough games but Liverpool and Chelsea have avoided the guillotine that is Barcelona. They look immense at the moment and if they can keep Messi fit throughout the season (which has proved hard in recent seasons) then I think they will be the team to beat.

    Madrid, at this moment, should be easy pickings for Liverpool but a lot can change in the coming months. This will be a very tricky tie.

    The main theme of the draw, though, seems to be England versus Italy.

    Roma have had an upturn recently which was sparked by their convincing beating of Chelsea. They're rapidly closing in on the CL places so Arsenal will have their work cut out to make it to the groups.

    Talking of Chelsea, Juventus is probably a draw they wouldn't have been too concerned with. But the Old Lady looked very comfortable in the groups and are keeping within reach of Inter in Serie A. They (I think) have the most experienced side in the competition so they know how to close a game out - something Chelsea are also very adept at of course. Avoiding injuries and suspensions are imperative for Juve, though, as they lack the depth that Chelsea have in their squad.

    Inter is one of the teams we, United, wanted to avoid - the other being Atletico Madrid, who should beat Porto over two legs. They have a top class side, who, on their day, can beat anybody. Mind you, so do United. Here's a couple of interesting stats though - the last four defending champions have been eliminated at this stage of the competition and 5 of last years top seeds went out in the last 16 too. I hope United can buck this trend of champions falling at the second hurdle but here's hoping that the fixture congestion doesn't have too much of an effect on us.

    I can't see English sides dominating like they have in recent seasons. I can maybe see 1 or 2 getting through to the semis but not 3 that we've seen in the last two years. The competition is more fierce with Barcelona looking very dangerous, Bayern looking free flowing as well and you never quite know what Real Madrid are going to muster by the end of February.

    Sorry for the long post.

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  • 30. At 3:44pm on 19 Dec 2008, dandolinho wrote:

    redandbalck....

    didnt inter get quaresma too, dunno how he is doing but i wanted liverpool to get him, pretty arrogant, very skillful, n quick to boot, something that united n chelsea both have n liverpool wer missing. id b intrigued to c if he plays, being portuguese and a winger with lots of skill n ALOT of arrogance... can 1 football field contain 2 arrogant portuguese?

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  • 31. At 3:45pm on 19 Dec 2008, Samwell2804 wrote:

    Oh Whoopee !!!!!! NikosBg is back !!!!!!

    Seriously Nikos .........................................
    have you actually got a life???

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  • 32. At 3:46pm on 19 Dec 2008, RomanPutin wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 33. At 3:47pm on 19 Dec 2008, GiusCoUK wrote:

    Never understood why you BBC media are so supremely confident in the glory of our lucky -and heavy indebted- football teams... "our" being an oxymoron due to the foreign capital and management involved.

    The ties are all very tough, Italian teams have all the qualities to shock EPL teams and so have Real Madrid.

    It's a mystery, really, this arrogance, also considering the underachieving constant of our national team: where comes this pride? I read of smashing, walk-over, tear them up... buuu buuu, sheep following the pride of the shepherd to the butcher.

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  • 34. At 3:47pm on 19 Dec 2008, kevthered83 wrote:

    As a Utd fan I did want to avoid Inter the most. Will depend on what form we hit come the new year whether we qualify or not.
    Would like to get one over on Mourinho though, still hurts to think about losing to Porto after the worst decision in history, Scholes goal being disallowed with 3 players playing him yards onside.

    Think Liverpool should do Real comfortably, they are 1 of the weaker teams this year. Still gutted utd didnt get them.

    Roma are nothing special, so providing Arsenal are on 1 of there good days they should go through too.

    Think Chelsea have the toughest challenge. Can see the Tinker man knocking Big phil out over 2 legs.

    Other than those matches I expect Barca, Bayern, Athletico & Villareal to go through comfortably.

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  • 35. At 3:48pm on 19 Dec 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To chad Sexington. The key to Mourinho is that he is a winner.

    Porto may have done well before he got there, but he won the Champions League with them, and most winners have a bit of luck along the way.

    I take your point about Chelsea's budget, but he still brought the title to Stamford Bridge for the first time in 50 years.

    He is under serious pressure at Inter though, because as Roberto Mancini found out, the Serie A title is nice but it is the Champions League they want.

    Mourinho has been employed to win it. It is how he will be judged.

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  • 36. At 3:51pm on 19 Dec 2008, Bangforyourbuck wrote:

    I think all the English teams could go through, but Arsenal have the toughest task in my opinion, not against Roma but against themselves. A confident Arsenal would wipe the floor with them, but they're their own worst enemies most of the time.

    If Wenger could add a bit of steel to go with the swagger (but then I'm sure people have been saying that for the past four years) then they'll be a big threat.

    Aside from Barcelona, no-one in Europe has really hit top gear yet so you have to make them favourites for the trophy. It'd be interesting to see how they would get on if they were missing one or more of their talismen through injury though - Messi or Eto'o.

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  • 37. At 3:53pm on 19 Dec 2008, therkband wrote:

    What does the BBC know about the champions league?

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  • 38. At 3:53pm on 19 Dec 2008, Andy wrote:

    "Mourinho will relish being the centre of England's attention once more and will drink in every second of the huge attention his return will create."

    The above will only happen because the Press will keep pumping it down the rest of our throats. If Man U were treated like all the rest of the clubs it would only get coverage a few days in advance.

    It is a meeting of 2 football teams with a pompous Portuguese berk managing one team and a pompous Scottish berk managing the other.

    Lonewolf

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  • 39. At 3:54pm on 19 Dec 2008, jackal_lfc wrote:

    Phil,

    you've mentioned that Real will have Hunterlaar and Diarra eligible to play against us. Correct me if I'm wrong, but only one of these players can be registered for the knock-out stages ofthe Champions League as both have played in the UEFA cup already this season.

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  • 40. At 3:54pm on 19 Dec 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To GiusCoUK...hardly arrogance to talk up the chances of English clubs.

    They have had three teams in each of the last two semi-final line-ups. I think that is a record deserving of confidence and praise.

    English teams have been in every final since 2005 and last season was all-English.

    I think I can safely rest my case there. Not BBC favouritism, simply a reflection of the facts.

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  • 41. At 3:59pm on 19 Dec 2008, dandolinho wrote:

    romanputin.... sorry

    im not a united fan, but lets face it fergie's record kinda takes the mick outta jose's

    he just isnt even close to fergies record... n that in itself makes me cry a little inside just thinkin about it

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  • 42. At 4:04pm on 19 Dec 2008, GiusCoUK wrote:

    Phil, you know, this is a wheel: Italians were better before, then the Spanish had a run and now our glory... and so how many wins? 12 It vs 12 Sp vs 12 En ...

    You can argue AC Milan is out this year and yet Juventus (especially) are a bitter chunk. We fancy our chances and they fancy theirs.

    You are giving 4 edges out of 4 to EPL teams. Immodestly IMHO. That said, let's roll the ball.

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  • 43. At 4:05pm on 19 Dec 2008, abc wrote:

    I so much wanted "The Special One" to manage England. As a Liverpool fan I wouldn't mind if he was to take the helm at Anfield when Benitez decides to move on after a dynasty of success.

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  • 44. At 4:12pm on 19 Dec 2008, dandolinho wrote:

    i would love jose as liverpools next manager... n i dunno how much truth is in it, but i heard, n subsequently read that jose virtually had the liverpool job b4 rafa n was snubbed... maybe thats why we had such animosity from him :)

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  • 45. At 4:12pm on 19 Dec 2008, singhdeol wrote:

    I honestly cannot see anyone beating Barcelona this year, unless Messi or Eto'o die in a car accident or their defence falls asleep.

    Final: Barcelona vs. Chelsea
    Result: 1-0 in an overhyped, probably mediocre game.

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  • 46. At 4:12pm on 19 Dec 2008, 27 wrote:

    norapeti,

    you're right he did use Duff and Robben, but he ditched them both fairly quickly after that. I think most would agree that he prefers a powerful midfield to grind down opponents rather than using flair.

    Its not a criticism particularly; just that United's play has been largely based on pacey wingers hugging the touchline for decades. I for one, wouldn't want Mourinho's style of play to change that.

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  • 47. At 4:12pm on 19 Dec 2008, Bangforyourbuck wrote:

    GiusCoUK is either drunk or just pretending to be English, because I cannot make head nor tail of what's being said.

    I think it's the latter personally...

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  • 48. At 4:13pm on 19 Dec 2008, singhdeol wrote:

    the Italian teams are ageing, especially Juventus and Ac Milan.

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  • 49. At 4:13pm on 19 Dec 2008, Pike wrote:

    Re: 32. So Mourinho is 10 times the coach Ferguson is? Jog on. Mourinho lasted 3 years before Abramovich gave him the boot. Fergie has out lasted pretty much all his opposition during is time at Utd including the self proclaimed "Special one"

    That’s nothing against Mourinho, I like he style, but saying he is the better coach is laughable not to mention stupid.

    Regarding the draw, it is fantastic for the competition that I felt was just going through the motions in the group stage. Now all the big teams have drawn each other, which make for some brilliant fixtures to look forward to.

    I'd fancy all the English teams to get through with slight doubts over Arsenal as Roma are going on a bit of a run. But for me Barca are the team to beat they look more closer together as a group than last year not to mention they are in form. I heard it was something like 87 shots on goal in their last seven games.

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  • 50. At 4:15pm on 19 Dec 2008, DMMeasor23 wrote:

    I was wondering Phil what your opinion is on the top 4 of The Premier League reaching the last 4 in the Champions League?

    The draw somehow despite their 2nd place has favoured arsenal. People forget that Chelsea were very poor that night in Rome against Roma.

    Real Madrid have all the attacking flair but defesnively are always found wanting. Expect Liverpool to do their boring 0-0 away and then a 96th minute Gerrard strike in the second leg.

    Man United are better than Inter but the Mourinho factor is the problem.

    Chelsea have the ability when Carvalho returns to be very solid at the back, and Drogba or Anelka or both can trouble any defence.

    Arsenal need a holding midfielder before their game with Roma - maybe Frings from Werder Bremen to be a serious threat in the Champions League.

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  • 51. At 4:17pm on 19 Dec 2008, NEARPOSTHEADER wrote:

    Well, I don't share all this rampant optimism. The four English clubs have tough assignments and I'd be very surprised if they all get through to the next round. the most unpreditable is Arsenal, who have to face a resurgent Roma, and I think Liverpool could come a cropper - Real may be struggling a little and have injuries, but their pride will lift them. Also, Liverpool have hardly been impresive of late.

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  • 52. At 4:17pm on 19 Dec 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    Considering the draw, England has every chance to have no sides after this round.
    Great draw for the neutral fan but sqeeky bum time for the supporters of the English teams.

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  • 53. At 4:18pm on 19 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    "Never understood why you BBC media are so supremely confident in the glory of our lucky -and heavy indebted- football teams... "our" being an oxymoron due to the foreign capital and management involved.

    It's a mystery, really, this arrogance, also considering the underachieving constant of our national team: where comes this pride? I read of smashing, walk-over, tear them up... buuu buuu, sheep following the pride of the shepherd to the butcher."


    1.The arrogance, optimism, overconfidence and self-importance is a national characteristic. It's even included in the introduction of one of the top travel guides of England (don't remember which).

    2.The treatment of failure or poor performance from school onwards is seacrhing for positives or scapegoats. The treatment of success is praise without being concerned with performance.

    3.In most other nations journalists and pundits are constantly critical and occasionally crucify players and managers based on performance, here their main role is to lick their backs in order to keep them talking to them, to create overhyped primadonnas and live off them, as well as to ignore or slag off foreign teams and players, so as to fuel people's arrogance and overconfidence of (1).

    4.People by and large are so naive, so stupid, so unfamiliar with failure or so drunk that they are eating like good sheep all the dumbgrass they're fed. In turn this fills the media's pockets and keeps the business going by allowing them to behave as above, a good example being the analysis of this particular blog. Well said mate. Sheep.

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  • 54. At 4:23pm on 19 Dec 2008, whatbill wrote:

    #32 - Mourinho had massive resources at chelsea compared to Fergie. And Sir Alex still saw him off in the end. Its a good opportunity for Jose to raise his UK profile again and make some more credit card adverts but if United perform they should go through...

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  • 55. At 4:28pm on 19 Dec 2008, mardi12 wrote:

    As a United fan, the only person I'd like to succeed Sir Alex is Jose. If it's not gonna be him, I really don't ever want to see the last day of Ferguson at the club.

    Also, although I hate Liverpool (:D), I'd love it if they thrash Real Madrid by as many goals as possible! Real is my most hated team after all its idiotic president's comments about Ronaldo! C'mon Liverpool!

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  • 56. At 4:28pm on 19 Dec 2008, Adam wrote:

    I don't think Mourinho will be United's next manager because another Portuguese will be probably looking for a return to Old Trafford in the form of Carlos Queiroz

    I look forward to the special one's return to England and feel that United should be able to get the result they need.

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  • 57. At 4:29pm on 19 Dec 2008, JM75UK wrote:

    "I honestly cannot see anyone beating Barcelona this year, unless Messi or Eto'o die in a car accident or their defence falls asleep."

    The same was said a few years back when they played Liverpool and we all know what happened then. Fore!!!!!!!

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  • 58. At 4:32pm on 19 Dec 2008, rs wrote:

    O Neill is a bit overated. If he said ashley young is as good as Messi then he has lost the plot.

    Im not sure he will be employed by anyone big as he wears those dirty white floppy collared shirt jumper things every single match, ever!

    But he could do well, but the next manager of man utd needs to be a big name really incase it all goes tits up.

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  • 59. At 4:33pm on 19 Dec 2008, RedDevilMOB wrote:

    I could see Mourinho one day managing United. I think he is secretly holding out for the job when Sir Alex retires, because its a huge job and a massive act to follow. He enjoys that kind of challenge and he has said before that he plans to manage in the PL again. My only question would be does he fall into that United mantra of playing attacking/entertaining football? As made famous by Sir Matt Busby and SAF?? It's something the club and the fans have come to expect over the years, and I'm not sure if he as a coach thinks that way. Although I am just going by what he did at Chelsea.

    Oh, and also think Carlos Queiroz would be ahead of Mourinho on the list, if he was available! He might not have as good a CV as Jose, but he knows the club inside and out and proved to be very effective for us during both of his periods at OT.

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  • 60. At 4:37pm on 19 Dec 2008, singhdeol wrote:

    Liverpool will lose to Real Madrid without Torres.
    Man U will beat Inter Milan but it'll be close (probably penalties).
    Roma vs. Arsenal... I have no idea because Arsenal are completely unpredictable this season.
    Chelsea will beat Juventus convincingly.

    Barca to crush Lyon 3-0.
    Villareal to beat the Greek team. The rest are no threat to the richest teams of europe.

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  • 61. At 4:38pm on 19 Dec 2008, Ruaraidh Gillies wrote:

    One stat to consider is that the defending champions have gone out in the first knockout round in each of the past 4 seasons: Porto in 2005, Liverpool in 2006, Barcelona in 2007, and Milan in 2008.

    What odds Mourinho manages to continue that sequence?

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  • 62. At 4:40pm on 19 Dec 2008, Roman Philosopher wrote:

    Yes whatbill....... poor Fergie and poor Man United, they have had so little resources to draw from, and you would never find man united's name cropping up amongst the record transfer fees would you now?.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king, as this must be where you reside sunshine!

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  • 63. At 4:40pm on 19 Dec 2008, whatbill wrote:

    Carlos is a great no. 2 but not sure if he has the personality to manage United. He struggled at Madrid and hasn't looked that great for Portugal so far. Mourinho would be interesting at OT but he'd have to commit to more expansive football than when he was at Chelsea...

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  • 64. At 4:41pm on 19 Dec 2008, dandolinho wrote:

    boring 0-0 away?

    should we go bk over the last few results away from home in the CL?

    leverkusen, barca, psv, chelsea

    liverpool go for the away goals, we more likely to draw 0-0 at home

    a sad premisconception on liverpool i think

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  • 65. At 4:41pm on 19 Dec 2008, Carlo is the Don Drogba is the hitman wrote:

    I think that United can win against Inter given the form that they are in now. however, it will certainly be a very boring game both home and away.

    On the other hand, I'm looking forward to Liverpool v Real Madrid. now thats an interesting match. this couldn't be a better fixture in the draw today. with Jan-huntlaar coming and the return of Torres, attacking football will be dominant unlike the Inter-Man Utd. As for the Chelsea-Juventus game...It's unpredictable right now, both teams seem to be roller coastering at the moment. and IF arsenal play their cards right, i think they'll get a win against Roma (its a tricky one) lol.

    Lyon could beat Barca. i dunno why people are overrating Barcelona, i know with Messi Eto'o and Xavi they're fantastic but still they could lose. Lyon are one of those surprising teams.

    Porto is pretty good this season. i didnt expect them to top Arsenal's group. they will be tough competitors if they overcome Atletico.

    same goes to Villareal. i think they can overcome surprise newcomers Panathanikos. they've proven themselves in their group stage.

    Bayern shouldn't have a hard time getting 6 points against Sporting although Klinsman has thrown away many points this season and chance to go on top of the Bundesliga nevertheless, I'm assuming them to go all the way to the final.

    Its been a very interesting draw this year, unlike the previous two years. so looking forward to a lot of exciting football next year.

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  • 66. At 4:41pm on 19 Dec 2008, collie21 wrote:

    You might want to look at Inter last year and now, and Man Utd last year and now, before saying Ferguson will be relaxed. I would love United to overcome Inter but I think on UTD's current form Inter will have too much for them.

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  • 67. At 4:42pm on 19 Dec 2008, Bangforyourbuck wrote:

    NikosBg,

    So we're ignorant, arrogant etc because we think the English sides have a chance of going through? This after dominating the Champions League in recent years as Phil has said?

    I don't think anyone has ignored or slagged off any foreign teams at all, most on here have agreed that Barcelona are the side to beat for instance. But you have to agree that all of the English sides' opposition are beatable.

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  • 68. At 4:42pm on 19 Dec 2008, Worst_Firm_In_The_World wrote:

    Damn and blast.

    I had flights booked to Madrid for £20 based on the 2/5 chance United had a getting either of the teams from the Spanish capital.

    Not only have my hopes of a cheap trip gone up the spout but we've been given the most difficult draw possible too.



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  • 69. At 4:45pm on 19 Dec 2008, singhdeol wrote:

    "he same was said a few years back when they played Liverpool and we all know what happened then. Fore!!!!!!!"

    Can you honestly name a player better than Messi? Only Ronaldo matches him in quality.

    And before you give me the whole "it takes a team to win", I'm pretty certain Barcelona is loaded with the best talent money can buy from Henri to Puyol. This doesn't guarantee victory but it's pretty damn close to a guarantee.

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  • 70. At 4:48pm on 19 Dec 2008, Crazyteknohed wrote:

    A typically biased and rather myopic expectation that all four English clubs should make it through, despite all four draws being extremely tough.

    One aspect that has been particularly overlooked in the Madrid/Liverpool tie is with respect to their league campaigns. While Liverpool are sitting pretty atop the Premier League, Madrid have next to no hope of challenging for La Liga. If Liverpool are still top of the league come February I fully expect this to have an impact on how to tie is played.

    Ultimately though, this round will count for little as Barcelona are most certainly the team to beat. I know this has been said in past seasons but really they are so far ahead of the rest right now that to not make it to the final would be a huge upset.

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  • 71. At 4:48pm on 19 Dec 2008, Bergysdeftflicks wrote:

    Tough call for all teams Phil.

    Here goes:

    Out - Liverpool

    Out- Chelsea

    Arsenal and Utd to squeeze through, but by a very, very thin margin.

    PS Arsenal are very vulnerable though. Roma is a tie when they may well underperform. Many Gunners (im one of them) would have settled for Juve or Barca however difficult such games would have been.

    Ferguson simply wont allow Utd to lose to Mourinho!

    Great draw all round.

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  • 72. At 4:49pm on 19 Dec 2008, Roman Philosopher wrote:

    I seriously think the english sides are going to struggle through this last 16 stage, the only team I feel confident about is Liverpool, and being a Chelsea fan that is painful to admit.

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  • 73. At 4:50pm on 19 Dec 2008, Worst_Firm_In_The_World wrote:

    Oh, and also think Carlos Queiroz would be ahead of Mourinho on the list, if he was available! He might not have as good a CV as Jose, but he knows the club inside and out and proved to be very effective for us during both of his periods at OT.
    -----------------------------------------------------

    Brian Kidd was very effective as Sir Alex's assistant as United established themselves as the dominant English side of the 90's.

    As was Steve McClarenm who held the post during our unique, famous, historic, magnificent Treble triumph in '99.

    Their subsequent managerial careers have hardly impressed enough to have made them candidates for next Manchester United manager.

    Perhaps it is unfair to tarnish Carlos with this particular brush however I doubt that a successful stint as Fregie's number 2 will persuade the Old Trafford boardroom that he is a better option than a proven World Class manager such as Mourinho.

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  • 74. At 4:51pm on 19 Dec 2008, dandolinho wrote:

    51.

    hardly impressive but still top of the pile, i dont agree with these, but i guess thats why we here to have debate...

    we aint been impressive, but neither have the others, the reason us scousers have optimism is that of all the teams to draw wen ur on a bad run (reletively speaking) madrid would b the team to get. right now they are on their back sides domestically, hardly world beaters in the CL too this year, no ruud at all for the season, casillias is havin a bad patch (was great against barca even tho they lost but long may it continue well into may for me) and have a managerial change, n none other than ramos, who, regardless of what he achieved with sevilla, was a laughing stock of a manager in england (so by that presumption will not b looking forward to playing an english side who's tactics he just couldnt come to terms with)

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  • 75. At 4:52pm on 19 Dec 2008, whatbill wrote:

    #62 - I'm not talking about United's undisputable wealth, I'm comparing it to the time when Mourinho was at chelsea. When he was there they spent money like it was going out of fashion. I know United are loaded but for a couple of seasons they couldn't compete in the transfer market. Duff, Robben, SWP, Sheva, Mikel, Ballack, Essien, Cashley, etc. I know it seems a long time ago now we're back at the peak of english football but for a couple of seasons, United were the underdogs...

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  • 76. At 4:53pm on 19 Dec 2008, No way José wrote:

    "he wouldn't know what to do with 2 wingers in a month of Sundays."

    Lmao.

    Robben, Joe Cole, Duff.

    Can't wait for José's return, still love the man.

    The draw was a good one as well today, nice to see so many new fixtures and nice for us to really ponder who'll be in the last 8.

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  • 77. At 4:55pm on 19 Dec 2008, goonergetit wrote:

    If Steven Gerrard so much as sneezes the bookmakers will be widening the odds on Liverpool, if he stubs his toe or drops a saucepan in the kitchen the same will happen. I think Man Utd are going to have a problem scoring if Ronaldo does not, they have a plethora of great players but with Berbatov playing they will not score so many goals. Chelsea need Essien back and Scolari's not so great. Arsenal need time, that's all, time, Roma will be a test but we should be favorites, once players start to recover and luck changes a little Arsenal will be formidable, don't write them off. If Henry is in form then Barcelona have always a great chance, Arsenal are the dark horse team.

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  • 78. At 4:55pm on 19 Dec 2008, Welsh_Red2008 wrote:

    Hey everyone

    I wouldnt bother responding to anything Nikosbg says, he is a wind up merchant, admittedly a very good one as he always seems to provoke a reaction from numerous others posters whenever I see him post in other topics involing English Clubs.

    Lets ignore the fool and hope eventually he goes away.

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  • 79. At 4:55pm on 19 Dec 2008, DMMeasor23 wrote:

    64, The last year Liverpool won the Champions League, 2005, what were the scores in the Away legs in their Quarter and Semi finals?

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  • 80. At 4:56pm on 19 Dec 2008, GyroRob wrote:

    No. 2
    ''Mourinho to manage United? Please tell me it ain't so... he wouldn't know what to do with 2 wingers in a month of Sundays''.

    Apart from when he had Robben, Duff, Cole and Swp all under him at Chelsea at the same time? And despite that his system at Chelsea was built around a front 3 including 2 wingers?

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  • 81. At 4:57pm on 19 Dec 2008, poppyAstonvanilla wrote:

    I think that NikosBg needs to cheer up a bit. It's nearly Christmas! Perhaps he's worried that Santa won't bring him what he asked for.
    I would like to see Arsenal do well in the CL this season, a big trophy like that would do wonders for their confidence. As a neutral I'm missing the Arsenal of old!

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  • 82. At 4:58pm on 19 Dec 2008, Crazyteknohed wrote:

    "Lyon could beat Barca. i dunno why people are overrating Barcelona, i know with Messi Eto'o and Xavi they're fantastic but still they could lose."

    You don't watch much of La Liga, do you? Other than a shock loss to Numancia on the opening game of the season they are thus far unbeaten in the league. Furthermore, it's not the number of victories that is important but the manner in which they have achieved them. So far this season, results in all competitions include 6-1 against Sporting Gijon, 6-1 against Atletico Madrid, 5-0 against FC Basel, 5-0 against Almeria, 6-0 against Valladolid and 4-0 against Valencia. If you can name another team in Europe in better form then I'll accept your argument the Barca are over-rated.

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  • 83. At 4:59pm on 19 Dec 2008, Carlo is the Don Drogba is the hitman wrote:

    Bergysdeftflicks wrote:

    Tough call for all teams Phil.

    Here goes:

    Out - Liverpool

    Out- Chelsea

    Arsenal and Utd to squeeze through, but by a very, very thin margin.

    PS Arsenal are very vulnerable though. Roma is a tie when they may well underperform. Many Gunners (im one of them) would have settled for Juve or Barca however difficult such games would have been.

    Ferguson simply wont allow Utd to lose to Mourinho!

    Great draw all round.

    ****************************

    your'e having a laugh m8 if you think Liverpool are going to lose to Real Madrid. madrid are easily the weakest of the big teams this season. just like Barca in 06/07 season. as for Chelsea, you never know, they just seem to win when they're under pressure.

    On the other hand i think Arsenal will lose. they're not confident enough.

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  • 84. At 5:00pm on 19 Dec 2008, Scottishscouser wrote:

    "He's a character with a good personality and I've always got on well with him," Ferguson on Mourinho.

    I seem to remember SAF being quite angry regarding comments made by Mourinho just before the 2007 semis.

    Why are you a fan Phil? The man is nowt but arrogant and full of his own self-importance! You must be easily pleased if you think he is entertaining. I suppose you journos will all be slavering over him before the game and using the boring old phrase in your write-ups; "He was a breath of fresh air for the Prem." I'll put my mortgage on one of you lot writing that!

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  • 85. At 5:03pm on 19 Dec 2008, Sevenseaman wrote:

    Motormouth Mourinho v/s Flaxfox Alex, its unwaitable for.

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  • 86. At 5:05pm on 19 Dec 2008, The Wenger Way wrote:

    "1.The arrogance, optimism, overconfidence and self-importance is a national characteristic. It's even included in the introduction of one of the top travel guides of England (don't remember which)."

    I'm sure it is, the usual 'I have read it somewhere, can't remember the name of it though....' bit. The age old method of reinforcing ridicolous comments with a reference to reputable source of which doesn't exist other than in the mind's of deluded individuals. Poor show.

    "2.The treatment of failure or poor performance from school onwards is seacrhing for positives or scapegoats. The treatment of success is praise without being concerned with performance."

    Perhap's we should beat them instead then! You are talking about young children here, is this how you feel your inadequacies were dealt with? Would explain alot.
    As for the last comment,well, surely success should be met with praise?! Result's come first do they not?

    "3.In most other nations journalists and pundits are constantly critical and occasionally crucify players and managers based on performance etc etc"

    Correct me if I am wrong but our national media is widely regarded as one of the most critical in the world, one of which scrutinises every move made by our sportsmen. Just my thoughts.

    "People by and large are so naive, so stupid, so unfamiliar with failure or so drunk that they are eating like good sheep all the dumbgrass they're fed etc"

    Amusing, what a load of drival which sum's up your entire post really.
    Sheep?dumbgrass?? child.

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  • 87. At 5:06pm on 19 Dec 2008, mape_ventura wrote:

    Like the article Phil, you shouldn't feel the need to reply to everyone who knocks you or misses the point on here.

    Great draw, i don't think England will have the CL its own way this season, in fact i would be surprised if all 4 managed to get through this round. Expect one upset...

    If i was a betting man i'd say that it would depend which Arsenal turned up.

    Many new fixtures to ponder and potential rivalaries to.

    Bayern are the team to surprise people this time around, Ribery, Bommel, Podolski, Klose and especially Toni are playing really well at present.

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  • 88. At 5:11pm on 19 Dec 2008, Roman Philosopher wrote:

    75...........Rooney, Ferdinand and Ronaldo were all signed and playing for United either before or on the cusp of the Mourinho era. Man U were fully resourced and felt they did not need to buy more players, until as Fergie admitted, Chelsea raised the bar, and Mourinho has to take credit for that, not because he had loads of money to spend, but because he is an oustanding football manager. I would not say he is better than Fergie, it is far too early to tell, and he has all the characteristics of marmite, but he is short changed on the credit he deserves when people constantly thow the 'loads of money' argument into the ether.

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  • 89. At 5:12pm on 19 Dec 2008, red_fab_fred wrote:

    As a Man utd fan i hate to say it but i think only one English club will progress this time.

    In a suprising twist i also would have fancied both Chelsea and Arsenal to beat Barca at this stage of the competition if they had drawn them.

    The recent successes of English clubs i think will play against them this year, because all the teams are well known to everyone both tactically and their personnel.

    Unless Keane can have an impact at Liverpool or Berbatov can improve at United then both these teams are pretty similar to ;last year. Chelsea although playing a more attacking game have become more vunerable in th process, to the extent where a result at home in the first leg is no longer a foregone conclusion.

    Arsenal for me are the team that have the best chance because their game of ball retention really has worked in Europe over the last few years. The youngsters have pulled off some classic performances against experience opposition and i don't see why that would change now.

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  • 90. At 5:13pm on 19 Dec 2008, Roman Philosopher wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 91. At 5:14pm on 19 Dec 2008, shrimp wrote:

    Mourinho to come to Manchester ? Yes , but it will not be United!

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  • 92. At 5:17pm on 19 Dec 2008, bluereed wrote:

    Mourinho vs Ferguson....what a mouth watering tie this will be. Ferguson has only once beaten Mourinhos sides and I expect Inter to knock Man utd out of the cup.Thats with a team of geriatrics. As for Mourinho taking over at Old Trafford,I would hope he returns to Stamford Bridge if Roman can get a bit of humility into his life.

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  • 93. At 5:20pm on 19 Dec 2008, aconlon wrote:

    good blog phil as usual, how about mentioning the other games though - the bbc has been covering the whole champions league.

    i think 2 teams who are alot more threatening than credited for are Bayern and Atletico - as long as they can keep Ribery and Aguero fit.

    Doubt Porto will beat Atletico unless they play defensively.

    Also can't see Sporting putting up much of a fight as they are a team built on flair (hence producing players like jao moutinho) and this wont work against the big teams.

    Villareal should progress, they have looked impressive this tournament.

    Everyone seems to be tipping Barca but one little injury to Messi or Eto'o could spell the end

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  • 94. At 5:24pm on 19 Dec 2008, Roman Philosopher wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 95. At 5:25pm on 19 Dec 2008, democracythreat wrote:

    I think you being a bit hard on the boy.

    I think he's got a lot of interesting things to say, about people in the game.

    If Jose does win, he will be centre stage of football and the man to beat. If he doesn't win, he was beaten by the champs in a great game.

    Either way, he wins.

    He's fantastic!

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  • 96. At 5:35pm on 19 Dec 2008, Some_Random_Guy wrote:

    Roma. Dangerous. :D

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  • 97. At 5:42pm on 19 Dec 2008, football_football wrote:

    Will Mourinho become the nemesis of English football?

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  • 98. At 5:44pm on 19 Dec 2008, McK wrote:

    I'm a United fan so I'll be hoping we go through.

    That being said I've seen Ibrahimovic play some games in Serie A this year and the guy really is a terrifying prospect.

    At the moment he just has the aura of a one man team and someone that can't miss. His finishing coupled with his strength and skill on the ball are something I really don't remember seeing in recent years.

    I know he is under-rated in England because we don't see him play, but as Phil says, if United allow him to play English football fans will be in for a rude awakening.

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  • 99. At 5:45pm on 19 Dec 2008, TalamhGlas wrote:

    Well then if you can't accept criticism and are not up to the standards that you used to have I have the choice not to involve myself with either your website or your broadcasts. You seem to forget something and that is the fact that your jobs are paid for by a system that require people to pay a fee. Think about that when you decide to censor people, there was nothing wrong with my comments, I am a professional and I have considerably more experience than you have. But then come to think of it isn't this what the BBC does well, censor the truth.

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  • 100. At 5:47pm on 19 Dec 2008, McEwanwhosarmy wrote:

    once again good blog
    think it shows the impact that mourinho made in England that we are talking about Man Utd vs Inter over Liverpool vs Real madrid which for me is a bigger game becuase of their pedigrees in Europe. Chelsea I think have the tougher tie, Juventus were my dark horses going into the champions league and have a point to prove again and with chelsea being less than convincing in the group stage its a tricky tie.

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  • 101. At 5:47pm on 19 Dec 2008, redgm99 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 102. At 5:48pm on 19 Dec 2008, corknorr wrote:

    I think Arsenal will find it difficult. Roma will be extra motivated by the idea that they could reach the final in their home ground. The tough draws for all make it a possibility even if they don't seem the strongest. 4 tough ties so my guess is 2 English teams get through.

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  • 103. At 5:55pm on 19 Dec 2008, rs wrote:

    "Never understood why you BBC media are so supremely confident in the glory of our lucky -and heavy indebted- football teams... "our" being an oxymoron due to the foreign capital and management involved.

    The ties are all very tough, Italian teams have all the qualities to shock EPL teams and so have Real Madrid.

    It's a mystery, really, this arrogance, also considering the underachieving constant of our national team: where comes this pride? I read of smashing, walk-over, tear them up... buuu buuu, sheep following the pride of the shepherd to the butcher."

    ---------------------------------

    Yes its a real mystery apart from an all english final last time, 3 teams to the semis and the time before that an english team in the final. Yes a real mystery to why we think the english teams will do well. Its not arrogance or a mystery, your weird hate and ignorance of the facts are more mysterious.

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  • 104. At 5:56pm on 19 Dec 2008, samredunited4life wrote:

    most of the ties seem fairly 50/50 to me and i think it would be difficult to make an accurate prediction of the eventual winners of all the ties.

    chelsea v juve is very interesting, chelsea will be expected to overcome juventus but this will be a tough tie for the blues. winning the group with real madrid and zenit st petersburg in and easily beating ac milan 4-2 in serie a proves juve can beat very good teams, they have technical players like del piero and nedved and a top striker in amauri. they should be well organised defensively and will probably try to get a draw at stamford bridge. i think if chelsea win the 1st leg without conceding an away goal they will go through. prediction chelsea 2-1 juve on agg

    real madrid v liverpool is a bit of a glamour tie, but setting aside the fact real madrid are the record winners of the competition, liverpool should easily dump out a poor madrid team, motivation will be easy and if torres is fit for them i can see them scoring 3 or 4 goals over both legs and with the 2nd leg at anfield-as much as i dislike liverpool i would be almost certain of them getting through. prediction liverpool 3-1 r.madrid on agg

    arsenal v roma, two evenly matched teams that both play entertaining football, arsenal have the slightly superior individual players and will be slight favourites but i think roma have a better team spirit and with the 2nd leg in rome i can see arsenals season once again fall apart at this time of the year. if roma play like they did when they hammerd chelsea i cant see arsenal living with that but you can never write off the gunners and i really cant call this one but if my life was on it i would back arsenal. prediction arsenal 4-3 roma on agg

    inter milan v manchester united...well it was written in the stars we would end up facing jose somewhere along the line, i think the winners of this tie will go on to make the final and possibly win, united are favourites and with the 2nd leg at old trafford i think we should progress, but if we come away from the san siro with too much to do at old trafford morinho will know exactly how to set inter up for the 2nd leg so it will be very tricky. united need the best from rooney ronaldo berbatov etc to get the better of a team with the likes of cambiasso stankovic and ibrahimovic. prediction united 3-2 inter on agg

    with the other ties villareal will have too much technical ability for plucky panithinikos prediction villareal 2-0 panithinikos on agg

    athletico madrid have a slightly better attack than their opponents porto and should outscore them prediction athletico 5-3 porto on agg

    bayern munich should begin to re-establish themselves in this competition and edge sporting prediction bayern 2-1 sporting on agg

    and the underated lyon, who would have been confident against almost any other oppostion than the ones they got will test barca but ultimately get knocked out prediction barca 4-2 lyon on agg

    i can see any one of inter barca chelsea liverpool and united being the eventual winners...there will sure be some very good games to look forward to

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  • 105. At 6:15pm on 19 Dec 2008, jus9ball wrote:

    Chelsea – 0
    Juventus – 2
    Sporting Lisbon – 0
    Panathinikos – 0
    Villarreal – 0
    Bayern – 4
    Atletico – 0
    Porto – 1
    Lyon – 0
    Barca – 2
    Arsenal – 0
    Roma – 0
    Inter – 2
    Man U – 3

    16 teams – 14 European Cups

    Yep, United v Inter is the big one all right. You’ve only got to look at the above list. The match has everything. The two greatest managers to have ever walked the earth. The prestige that these two giant clubs have. The fan base in Milan and Singapore. I honestly cannot wait. It’s gonna be a biggy all right.

    ( BTW: My young son came home from school today and said; “Dad. What does nine plus five equal?”. I replied “Stop asking stupid questions son. Knowing the answer to that question will not get you a career in journalism”. )

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  • 106. At 6:17pm on 19 Dec 2008, killahtron wrote:

    Disagree with your opinion Phil that Jose will the the next manager at Old Trafford.

    I think it will be Martin O'Neill!!!!!

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  • 107. At 6:19pm on 19 Dec 2008, end2endgame wrote:

    Yes, I can see an upset - if one big club knocking another one out can be called such a thing. Man Utd fans will know how shrewd and tactically aware Mourinho is from his time with Chelsea.

    Mourinho is also more than a match for Fergies 'mind games' and I remember on several occasions his mind games back-fired and left him with egg on his face. I can see Inter beating Utd. Think it will be a very tight affair with Inter winning 2-1 in the san siro while the 2nd leg will end up 2-2 with Inter going through 4-3 on aggregate. Undersetimate Mourinho at your peril.

    Just glad Chelsea have avoided him ( for now?). Chelsea should beat Juve as Juve aren't as good a team as Inter. Inter are the best team in Italy - the league table dosen't lie. They'd have buried Pompey at Fratton park not left it to the last five minutes like Milan.

    Think Liverpool will go through but Arsenal are heading for disaster. Roma may not be a great team but they're better than Arsenal right now.

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  • 108. At 6:20pm on 19 Dec 2008, bluereed wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 109. At 6:22pm on 19 Dec 2008, end2endgame wrote:

    Real Madrid will continue to look great on paper but fail to deliver on the pitch. If they get through, I can't see them going further than the QF stage.

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  • 110. At 6:25pm on 19 Dec 2008, Andy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 111. At 6:39pm on 19 Dec 2008, frenchies-fav-son wrote:

    Who was the excellent defender for inter against pool last year?Only reason pool scored was because he went off injured, his performance was heroic in that match and he only looked about 5ft tall. But liverpool did dominate both legs and deserved to go through.

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  • 112. At 6:42pm on 19 Dec 2008, bluereed wrote:

    By Febuary Real Madrid will have most of their injured players back plus a few important signings in January. Ramos is no mug and I can see this tie being really tight. It could go either way.Arsenal will find Roma difficult and Chelsea will have a real ding dong with Juventus. Cant wait for Febuary.

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  • 113. At 6:47pm on 19 Dec 2008, gladiator735 wrote:

    ahh :S the Mourinho run down the touchline after a seemingly lucky but late winner against utd still haunts my nightmares. I'm dreading, yet relishing the return of Mourinho. I mean its great football, great sport, great entertainment, great headlines but its a risky game. Utd will need their goalscorers fit, which means, one of the closest premier leagues could get a bit of neglect around febuary march.

    Now is it just me or does football seem more competitive and 'closer' this season? i mean everybody seems to pose a threat. Every week i shudder at the opposition facing Utd, and have images at how they can damages the hopes of a third succsessive premier league title. No matter who it is. Well perhaps beside west brom, but come that game i no doubt will have my heart in mouth. And we have seem just how easy teams can slip up, Chelsea have dropped a fair few points, so have Utd and especially Arsenal. Liverpool drew 3 home games in a row. And In Europe, came the draw today i thought, no matter who Utd get im going to dread it, but i would rather avoid Inter or Real.... spose the soon to be World Champions can't have everything.

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  • 114. At 6:51pm on 19 Dec 2008, gladiator735 wrote:

    and to ''105.'' there are only 14 teams there. Liverpool have won 5 or 6 and i don't know who else you've left off.

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  • 115. At 6:54pm on 19 Dec 2008, extratime wrote:

    As holders, I think Man Utd will be prone to relax while Inter's sole objective this season is to triumph in Europe. Their excellent defence could foil United and they certainly have the quality to overcome Alex Ferguson's side, who have been in patchy form thus far.

    http://www.footballingworld.com/2008/12/19/mourinho-faces-a-test-of-his-credentials-0176/

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  • 116. At 7:00pm on 19 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    So we're ignorant, arrogant etc because we think the English sides have a chance of going through? This after dominating the Champions League in recent years as Phil has said? You have to agree that all of the English sides' opposition are beatable.


    Mate have look at what the guy wrote:

    "United will start as favourites. I expect United to have too much for Inter. Liverpool dealt with Inter comfortably at this stage last season, and Ferguson will be relaxed about the task awaiting United.

    Liverpool will feel confident of seeing off a disjointed Real Madrid side. I would expect Liverpool to be too strong for Real over two games.

    I fancy last season's runners-up to navigate what will be a tricky assigment. They should reach the last eight.

    Arsenal, meanwhile, will be cautiously optimistic. They will feel they can harbour realistic ambitions of beating Roma.

    Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea can be optimistic of progress, as can Arsenal if the right team turns up against Roma."


    If the above analysis reflects the view that the English sides HAVE A CHANCE of going through, and that their opposition is BEATABLE, I rest my case.

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  • 117. At 7:04pm on 19 Dec 2008, JM75UK wrote:

    "16 teams ? 14 European Cups

    Yep, United v Inter is the big one all right. You?ve only got to look at the above list. The match has everything. The two greatest managers to have ever walked the earth. The prestige that these two giant clubs have. The fan base in Milan and Singapore. I honestly cannot wait. It?s gonna be a biggy all right".

    Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!!! I think you are either blind or a wum of the highest order.

    I see you forgot to mention Real Madrid and Liverpool who have as many European Cups between them as that entire list.

    The tie of the round is Liverpool v Madrid,no amount of the media fawning over Fergie and Mourinho changes that fact.

    As for them being the two greatest managers,again don't make me laugh so much,its starting to hurt.

    Its taken Fergie 20 years to get to two finals/wins despite having a load of youngsters come through at the same time and spending £20-£30m on so many players I have lost count. As for Mourinho he has got to and won ONE final. Benitez has a better record than the both of them given time at the clu and resources.

    Come back to me when either of them have won more Trophies than Real Madrid,AC Milan and Liverpool.

    Personally I wish Inter and Man U could both go out,but one this round and the other the next will do me fine.

    Then see how great you think they are.

    Shankly,Paisley,Clough and Stein make them two look second rate

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  • 118. At 7:20pm on 19 Dec 2008, bluereed wrote:

    . spose the soon to be World Champions can't have everything.
    I think you will find the South Americans will have something to say about that on Sunday.Dont get too optimistic.

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  • 119. At 7:21pm on 19 Dec 2008, notblinkered wrote:

    The Champions league draw looks truly awesome, a lot of English teams from the Premiership to take on the best of Serie A...A thing that is constantly said is that if the 'Chelsea,Arsenal,Utd and also Liverpool don't drop their standard they will be confident of going through....a little bit patronising , they should fear their equally good opponents and respect them a bit more, football in Italy and Spain is as strong, no doubt about it

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  • 120. At 7:24pm on 19 Dec 2008, bluereed wrote:

    Shankly,Paisley,Clough and Stein make them two look second rate
    All very good managers but Mourinho is up there with the best. He is certainly up there with Paisley and Shankly and Clough who for me were world class managers.

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  • 121. At 7:25pm on 19 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    So have a look at what's happening.

    There are 4 clubs which domestically have slipped up 6 to 8 times out of 17 games. They have struggled against weak opposition such as Boro, Hull, West Ham, Wigan, Tottenham etc. And in the CL they have had a really tough time or were unable to get results in matches against the likes of Bordeaux, Liege, Aalborg, Cluz, Celtic, Kyiv and Fenerbache.

    Now they are drawn to face Inter, Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma. All of them miles better than each of the above. And a journo comes out, puts his face on the top right of a website and says that they are confident, optimistic, favourites and expects them to go through.

    The journo is being paid to write this. My question is:

    Aren't you guys embarrassed to share his view?

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  • 122. At 7:27pm on 19 Dec 2008, littlejklc wrote:

    I'd rather the opponents of Liverpool and Man United swapped like most of you.
    Rafa to win over Jose one more time in CL is most enjoyable thing to watch.
    And Fergie will be very desirable to teach those Real Mob a lesson by winning them big over 2 legs.
    However, now with this draw, I really worry about Man United, they might go out. Fergie really doesn't have a good record with Jose and the fact of past winners were all out in the past few season in 1st knock out stage doesn't help either.
    I have a feeling no English Club will be in the final this year, there will be at least one lesser team in the final.

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  • 123. At 7:31pm on 19 Dec 2008, Weirdsville wrote:

    I HONESTLY can't understand that Barca are favourites again! All they need is to face a team who can defend and BANG - they are out! It happens every year almost... I'm not going to make predictions but if i was, i wouldn't say Barca! No chance!

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  • 124. At 7:39pm on 19 Dec 2008, Koftanaw wrote:

    Hi Phil,

    Now I know why you seem biased towards Chelsea - because of Jose The Special one? Anyways, your comment that reads "... Mourinho will be United's next manager once Sir Alex decides to abdicate" make me very happy because I really want him at Old Trafford when Alex leaves.
    I didn't want to face Inter this time but lets hope that we win and let Jose be bonn of Man U in 2-3 years time ....
    Victory to ManU !

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  • 125. At 7:39pm on 19 Dec 2008, The_Opinion wrote:

    These are my predictions but it doesn't really matter because in 2 or 3 months time these could be totally transformed teams.

    Arsenal vs Roma
    Arsenal always turn up for the big games and i think we can easily get past Roma if our defense is tight at stadio olimpico and our strikeforce will be have to be alert at the emirates. In the end though i think we have a good record against Italian teams and thats all that counts. I think it will be a game of free flowing footy.
    AG: 3-1

    Liverpool vs Real Madrid
    Liverpool just click in Europe and i think will easily get past real madrid. Gerrarad will be key and i think the scousers can deal with everything real throw at them.
    AG: 4-2

    Inter vs United
    This one i find difficult to predict. Both managers and teams won't want to lose this so i thick it will a very cautious affair with defences on top. It will depend on which side's defenders are on form.
    AG: 1-0 either way

    Chelsea vs Juventus
    This one will go Juve's way if Chelsea play an attacking game but then fail to break down the defence. Chelsea will need to nurse thir players back from injury. Juve are experienced and i expect both ties to be tight.
    AG: 1-2

    Barcelona vs Lyon
    This can only go one way no mater what. Barcelona will easily win and showboat in the process. Lyon will get a goal or two though at theirs.
    AG: 4-1

    Bayern Munich vs Sporting CP
    The Bavarians will win and they are a very strong team. A certain Dark Horse.
    AG: 3-0

    Villareal vs Panathinakos
    Both teams will be very motivated and i reckon the greek team might just pull off a suprise result.
    AG: 1-2

    Athletico Madrid vs Porto
    This could go again either way but i think athletico have a just a bit better defence and bit more flare in their line-up. Both teams will play much better home than away and anything could realistically happen.
    AG: 2-1

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  • 126. At 7:42pm on 19 Dec 2008, end2endgame wrote:

    Sorry made a blunder saying that Liverpool AND Real would both go through... when they're playing each other! so it's Liverpool for me. You could look at this tie in several ways: Benitez v Ramos, Torres (ex-atletico v their bitter rivals) , Spanish no. 1 GK v Spanish no.2 GK or Casillas against Reina - so there's more to this match than alot of people think.

    What do people think about the prospects for our clubs (English) in the UEFA cup? Have all of them reached as far as they'll get?

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  • 127. At 7:45pm on 19 Dec 2008, JM75UK wrote:

    "Shankly,Paisley,Clough and Stein make them two look second rate
    All very good managers but Mourinho is up there with the best. He is certainly up there with Paisley and Shankly and Clough who for me were world class managers."

    How is/can he be up there? What has he won to even put him close to that bracket? He won the CL very luckily,mainly by diving all over the place to beat Man U and then playing Monaco (who?) in the final.

    On top of that he has won the prem a couple of times but done nothing in the CL despite being bankrolled by one of the richest men in the world.

    To me and most sane folk those are not the credentials of an all time great and to mention him in the same breath as those other managers i mentioned is an insult to them all.

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  • 128. At 7:48pm on 19 Dec 2008, BHafcman wrote:

    c'mon the milaaan shut all these arragont southern man u fans

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  • 129. At 7:51pm on 19 Dec 2008, The_Opinion wrote:

    NikosBg wrote:
    So have a look at what's happening.

    There are 4 clubs which domestically have slipped up 6 to 8 times out of 17 games. They have struggled against weak opposition such as Boro, Hull, West Ham, Wigan, Tottenham etc. And in the CL they have had a really tough time or were unable to get results in matches against the likes of Bordeaux, Liege, Aalborg, Cluz, Celtic, Kyiv and Fenerbache.

    Now they are drawn to face Inter, Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma. All of them miles better than each of the above. And a journo comes out, puts his face on the top right of a website and says that they are confident, optimistic, favourites and expects them to go through.

    The journo is being paid to write this. My question is:

    Aren't you guys embarrassed to share his view?

    ----------------------------------------------------
    AND WHAT ABOUT THE RESULTS INTER, REAL ETC SUFFERED? REAL LOST TO SOME TEAM 2 LEAGUES BELOW THEM IN TH SPANISH CUP AND INTER WERE BEATEN BY
    PANATHINAKOS AT HOIME!! YOU ARE A STUPID IDIOT WHO KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT FOOTBALL!!!!!
    The European Cup is a different competition to anything else and the football played is totally different. For Example, I would favour my team Arsenal to have a more chance of beating Roma or Barcelona than Stoke FC. This is because of the football they play and also of their pedigree. Anything can happen in the champs league but all i know is one of the english teams could lose to Boro or HULL 10-0 at home and it wouldn't slightly affect their euro campaign.

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  • 130. At 8:02pm on 19 Dec 2008, showUsYerHands wrote:

    I really don't believe our top English clubs are that far ahead of the best in Italy and Spain, and I wish English journalists and pundits weren't so quick to claim so.

    Having said that, I expect Man Utd and Liverpool to progress. But I fear for Chelsea especially, and Arsenal.

    Chelsea have been absolutely awful in Europe this season. Under Scolari they are very beatable and don't look half the immovable machine they were under Grant. I predict Juventus will beat them in Turin and then hold them to a draw at Stamford Bridge. Defensively, Juventus are very strong and we all know Italians know how to defend. They could very well give a masterly exhibition of Catenaccio over the two legs to send Scolari back to Brazil.

    Arsenal V Roma is 50/50. I think it depends much on whether Arsenal are still within reach of the Premier League leaders when this fixture arrives. If they are, I can see them going out with a whimper as they push for the Premier League.

    So I predict 2 English clubs to go through, and 2 reminders of how our league isn't quite the mythical pinnacle in world football that pundits and journalists would have us believe.

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  • 131. At 8:10pm on 19 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    "i think we can easily get past Roma if our defense is tight at stadio olimpico"


    And if my auntie had @@ she'd be my uncle.

    Thing is your defense is the laughing stock of Europe at the monent.

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  • 132. At 8:10pm on 19 Dec 2008, marklee22 wrote:

    I HONESTLY can't understand that Barca are favourites again! All they need is to face a team who can defend and BANG - they are out! It happens every year almost... I'm not going to make predictions but if i was, i wouldn't say Barca! No chance!
    .....................................................................
    The thing is Barca are back to the level that they were at in 2006 when they won the competitionand La Liga. The two poor subsequent seasons have obviously led some people to forget what a fantastic team they are. The team that beats Barca in this ECL will be crowned champions IMO.

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  • 133. At 8:12pm on 19 Dec 2008, Wot Kuyt 'e did wrote:

    # 105 - "The fan base in Milan and Singapore" / "nine plus five"... Brilliant! :-)

    Even funnier though - It looks like no-on was paying attention! ;-)

    14=2 I might add.

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  • 134. At 8:36pm on 19 Dec 2008, bluereed wrote:


    How is/can he be up there? What has he won to even put him close to that bracket? He won the CL very luckily,mainly by diving all over the place to beat Man U and then playing Monaco (who?) in the final.

    On top of that he has won the prem a couple of times but done nothing in the CL despite being bankrolled by one of the richest men in the world.

    To me and most sane folk those are not the credentials of an all time great and to mention him in the same breath as those other managers i mentioned is an insult to them all.

    Id love to see your face come March when Mourinho dumps Utd out of the Cup.You might even concede he really is a world class manager......though I doubt it.

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  • 135. At 8:56pm on 19 Dec 2008, Cassano99Nutcase wrote:

    All the ties are tough to call, this years last 16 are probably the strongest in memory.

    United vs Inter is probably the most intriguing game, now they have a top coach at the helm we can now make a proper judgement on Inter Milan, a few negative things about Mourinho getting top jobs all the time thus no surprise he did well, correct in a way yet at Porto he won the Champions League having spent less than 2.5 million that season on players. Inter have a good chance but i think United will just get through, Inter's defence has improved this season but imo players like Ronaldo will provide them with their sternest test. My centre back partnership for Inter would be Samuel and Chivu, Materazzi since the Euros has lost it a bit and Burdisso is dreadful, vastly overrated, first one out next summer at Inter imo.
    Liverpool at the mo are favorites, you never know what could happen at Real Madrid though, Ramos may improve Madrid over Christmas but Liverpool have the knowhow in European football so i think they will get through.
    Arsenal are unpredictable yet so are Roma, i worry about Arsenal though, when they are playing a team they dont expect to beat they normally triumph (AC Milan last year) yet they lost to PSV 2 seasons ago, Roma are unpredictable also but are on a revival of late, the win over Chelsea in the Olimpico has given them renewed hope, i feel Arsenal could be the side from England that doesnt make it through.
    Chelsea vs Juve is an interesting game, the pressure on Scolari will be immense as thus far he hasnt done too well in big games, then again Ranieri struggles to get his sides up for key fixtures as well so it is another that could go either way, Chelsea must get a result at home and not concede an away goal, if they do then i would fancy Juventus in the return leg.
    Elsewhere, Barca should see off Lyon, Villarreal Panathinikos will be a tough one to call because Villarreal have had a slight dip of late whereas Panathinaikos are a side making progress. Atletico will prevail vs Porto, Portuguese teams are notorious bad travellers and with the first leg in Madrid, Atletico can kill the tie off with a 2/3 goal victory. Same goes for Bayern vs Sporting, by avoiding Real Madrid/Arsenal/Chelsea, Bayern have the potential to be a real threat this year.
    All in all should be very intriguing, pity we have to wait until Feb

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  • 136. At 9:47pm on 19 Dec 2008, the_jerry wrote:

    Jose is arrogant and as a Liverpool fan I actually hope United beat Inter. He is a trouble maker and lives too much for the media. He needs humbling and hopefully Sir Alex is up to it.

    I think United, Chelsea and Liverpool will go through but I think Roma will get the better off Arsenal. They were lethal against Chelsea and if they perform anywhere close to that the Gunners wont have much chance

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  • 137. At 9:48pm on 19 Dec 2008, wonderfulfaxsonko wrote:

    This one i find difficult to predict. Both united and inter are very strong teams won't want to lose this so i think it is going be difficult match for both teams. For inter Milan they are current in very good form in seria A .I am am big Fan of Jose Mourinho so i would love them to win Champions League this time.I am not seen united winning this time around.

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  • 138. At 10:04pm on 19 Dec 2008, Unbiased_Pundit wrote:

    I can't imagine the Glazers would plump for such a mind-numbingly defensive coach as Mourinho after Ferguson has had so much success with an attacking approach - though I would agree he is one of the very few people in the game big enough on reputation alone to take over the reigns when the red-faced one retires. As far as I can recall no-one has mentioned it but David Moyes may be a candidate.

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  • 139. At 10:23pm on 19 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    "All the ties are tough to call, this years last 16 are probably the strongest in memory."


    I would say the exact opposite, IMO this season apart from Barcelona there is mediocrity all around. Out of the 'big names' and pre-season favourites from the top nations nobody else has taken their league and Europe by storm.

    Inter: mediocre. Real: mediocre. ManUnited: mediocre. Chelsea: mediocre. Juve: mediocre. Liverpool: mediocre. Bayern: mediocre.

    They've all had several slipups against weaker opposition, domestically and abroad.

    This could mean that the gap has closed dramatically, as there is a lot of talent left in the weaker sides that hasn't been snapped up by the European giants, due to them not being willing to spend as before in the current economic climate. When United make do with buying Berbatov and renewing VDS's contract (same can be said about almost all the above clubs) the decline is obvious.

    The rest, Roma, Lyon, Porto, Atletico, Villareal, Arsenal have played according to their abilities with their slightly more limited squads, but their performances are very close to the big names above and they could easily eliminate any of them on their current inconsistent form.

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  • 140. At 10:24pm on 19 Dec 2008, gladiator735 wrote:

    #136 damn you know things are pressured when Liverpool and Man Utd fans start agreeing on the same results.

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  • 141. At 10:35pm on 19 Dec 2008, Sirmattsway wrote:

    The reason Inter Milan v Man United is the tie of the round is because its champions of Italy v Champions of England and Europe AND the added factor or spice of Mourinho returning to England 2nd leg v Ferguson. 2 great managers.

    Sorry but whoever said Real v Liverpool is tie of the round because they have more Euro CL is mistaken. Real won most of theirs in the 50's and 60's when it was probably like the FIFA club world cup was when United first won it and Liverpool have only won it one in 24 years. Real have done very little in it for a while now. Sure it will be a big game, a good game but there's so many mouthwatering ties.

    Also the (very fine) line of Liverpool being the most successful club in England is debatable as well. They have 2 more CL and 1 more league but we have 4 more FA cups and 10 more PL's within our total league title haul.

    1 more Premiership to make it 11 and a total of 18 top flight and we are most successful, that's how close it is. Unless they want to count the Carling cup of the 4 comps we ALWAYS play in every year, LOL.

    Lets put it this way, If Inter v United and Real v Liverpool were on the same day who do you reckon would be shown on ITV1 and who would be put on ITV4? Exactly.

    Inter are tougher than Real at the minute as Real are lost and United are the Champions and better than Liverpool.

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  • 142. At 10:38pm on 19 Dec 2008, LooseLoseBreakBrakeThereIsADifference wrote:

    Man Utd, Real Madrid, Juventus and Arsenal to go through in my opinion.

    People can go on about current form (even though the game is in February and current form means nothing) The fact is, is that Real Madrid have a squad capable of destroying Liverpool any day of the week. I don't know why so many are treating this tie as foregone conclusion in favour of the reds. I at least understand the people who are hoping for a 0-0 at Real and a injury time deflection from you know who at Anfield. This at least sounds possible.

    Real Madrid, player for player have a better squad than Liverpool, and it seems that after watching Real lose to Barcelona, many Liverpool fans are deluded with visions of grandeur. Just because Real couldn't beat Barca doesn't mean they can't beat the two man team of Stevie G and Fernancy Torres.

    I can see Man Utd going through purely because Man Utd will be too strong for them over two legs and Fergie will have them fired up. Plus I don't see Jose's magic working with this Inter team especially against Fergie.

    Juventus will put Chelsea out, narrowly. I don't think Phil is right man for the job, and has made life difficult for himself buying players who are on a downhill slide, as opposed to ones on the up and up. Unless Chelsea can steady the ship, and stop getting undermined at the once impenetrable Bridge. Juventus will sneak this one.

    Arsenal and Roma is a tricky one. But I think by the time Feb comes around (Much like Real) the league will be lost for them and they will be playing for pride. And if Arsenals can turn on the style and the pace, they will have too much for Roma.

    But as many football fans seem to have forgotten. Anything can happen. And ANYONE can be beaten on a given day even the mighty Barcelona. All I know is I CAN'T BLOODY WAIT for February. This is going to be EPIC......or over-hyped and unimaginably boring. Both are genuine possibilities in big name ties.

    I don't see Barcelona winning it this year. They do seem unstoppable at the moment. But can they keep it up until Feb? I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that the EPL is a more difficult league to win than La Liga, so I don't think its a certainty that when Barca meet an English team this year they will be 1. Still on current form and 2. Guaranteed to win.

    As I said before ROLL ON FEBRUARY!

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  • 143. At 10:43pm on 19 Dec 2008, thefrogstar wrote:

    Nice one Phil.

    When Chelsea let Jose go I nearly went down to the bookies to see what the odds were on him being Man Utd coach/manager within a year or two.

    I only partly agree with other comments that he won't be, because the playing-style of his teams "Doesn't fit in with the Man Utd ethos."

    I am not sure yet that the Glazers understand football or the "Man Utd ethos." This could be a true test of their ownership, because SAF was already a proven winner (=money) when they arrived.

    Remember, they are businessmen.

    Unless SAF or Bobby Charlton are allowed to choose the successor, how will the Glazers decide?
    They might ask their accountants and people in the media. With Jose's "Beckham-like" qualities for selling a product, he could easily get the Job.

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  • 144. At 10:47pm on 19 Dec 2008, LondonsFinestClub wrote:

    Inter have the ability to beat United if they stick to Jose's plan. All of Chelsea will be screaming for the special on that night. He knows how to beat United and has nothing to prove to Ferguson, but it would be nice if he could teach him another lesson in tactical football. Chelsea will have to be careful against Juve and I expect one goal to divide the teams on agg. Arsenal could be infor a surprise, Roma are more of a threat than they suspect, I think Liverpool have enough for Real as things stand, but who knows how much Ramos may have improved the team by Feb. Another hard game to call. The English press shouldn't over estimate their and teams chances, Chelsea in particular have to improve before they advance but Essien, Carvalho, Drogba and one A N other should add more drive and focus.

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  • 145. At 11:06pm on 19 Dec 2008, the_jerry wrote:

    # 143

    I hate to be a bore but again remind you Liverpool are not a two man team.

    Reina has won Golden Gloves 3 times in a row, Javier Mascherano is the Argentinian Captain, Dirk Kuyt if you ask most Liverpool fans has been the player of the season so far. Jamie Carragher is equal to if not better than John Terry in terms of quality. Alonso is showing the form again this season that once led to real offering Socieidad 25 million. Gerrard and Torres are the two most important players certainly, but the other are more than a match for Real Madrid. Who have Real got that is so brilliant?? Robinho is gone. Raul isnt getting enough support from his midfield. Long gone are the days of Carlos, Zidane, Figo. Liverpool are favourites to go through, it just needs to be seen how Real reform before February

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  • 146. At 11:08pm on 19 Dec 2008, Imbwayablair wrote:

    Not a well written opinion piece. As an BBC journo one expects Phil to patriotically spout the the usual nonsense about English clubs steam rolling every other club out there but please provide more incisive points to back up your position rather than banal platitudes of a deluded fan

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  • 147. At 11:16pm on 19 Dec 2008, Unbiased_Pundit wrote:

    At 10:38pm on 19 Dec 2008, aphexrephlex wrote:

    'Man Utd, Real Madrid, Juventus and Arsenal to go through in my opinion.....

    Real Madrid, player for player have a better squad than Liverpool, and it seems that after watching Real lose to Barcelona, many Liverpool fans are deluded with visions of grandeur. Just because Real couldn't beat Barca doesn't mean they can't beat the two man team of Stevie G and Fernancy Torres.'

    Since when does a team having a better squad on paper equate to champions league glory? Every single team Liverpool came up against in the knockout stages in 2005 had a better squad than Liverpool on paper, but we all know how that turned out don't we? And what champions league success have Real's immensely talented squads brought them in recent seasons? Precisely squat. I didn't see Barca's game against Real Madrid nor do I particularly care about it, as it will have very little bearing on the cl. Liverpool might be overly reliant on G&T at times in the prem but come the knockout stages against Madrid you'll see a different team. How can everyone except you know that?

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  • 148. At 11:21pm on 19 Dec 2008, Imbwayablair wrote:

    How is/can he be up there? What has he won to even put him close to that bracket? He won the CL very luckily,mainly by diving all over the place to beat Man U and then playing Monaco (who?) in the final.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    eh so Jose was lucky to win the CL. The same could be said about SAF's two CL wins. Look fair play to JM he beat Manu fair and square. Accept that and move on. Monaco (who?) eh this is the same Monaco that had one Patrice Evra (who?), Adebayor and Guily. It's not the name of the team that matters but the quality in it. Stop showing your ignorance

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  • 149. At 11:33pm on 19 Dec 2008, NotNikosBG wrote:

    NikosBG - I have to say that I've read your posts with (a kind of) interest. Why do you hate English football so much? Did your English mother spurn you? I only say this because your posts are wholly incoherent and inaccurate. I could spend many hours debunking what you have said, but to be frank it's pointless because your accuusatios are really quite baseless. I would like to take this opportunity to quote our author:

    'To GiusCoUK...hardly arrogance to talk up the chances of English clubs.

    They have had three teams in each of the last two semi-final line-ups. I think that is a record deserving of confidence and praise.

    English teams have been in every final since 2005 and last season was all-English.

    I think I can safely rest my case there. Not BBC favouritism, simply a reflection of the facts.

    I agree with that as it happens.

    I contrast this with your our post of the 4.18pm of the 18th Dec;

    Never understood why you BBC media are so supremely confident in the glory of our lucky -and heavy indebted- football teams... "our" being an oxymoron due to the foreign capital and management involved.

    It's a mystery, really, this arrogance, also considering the underachieving constant of our national team: where comes this pride? I read of smashing, walk-over, tear them up... buuu buuu, sheep following the pride of the shepherd to the butcher."


    1.The arrogance, optimism, overconfidence and self-importance is a national characteristic. It's even included in the introduction of one of the top travel guides of England (don't remember which).

    2.The treatment of failure or poor performance from school onwards is seacrhing for positives or scapegoats. The treatment of success is praise without being concerned with performance.

    3.In most other nations journalists and pundits are constantly critical and occasionally crucify players and managers based on performance, here their main role is to lick their backs in order to keep them talking to them, to create overhyped primadonnas and live off them, as well as to ignore or slag off foreign teams and players, so as to fuel people's arrogance and overconfidence of (1).

    4.People by and large are so naive, so stupid, so unfamiliar with failure or so drunk that they are eating like good sheep all the dumbgrass they're fed. In turn this fills the media's pockets and keeps the business going by allowing them to behave as above, a good example being the analysis of this particular blog. Well said mate. Sheep.

    What part of that rant was supposed to be serious?

    My humble advice to you; ANGER MANAGEMENT CLASSES; and very soon.


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  • 150. At 11:36pm on 19 Dec 2008, red_fab_fred wrote:

    I'm sorry if it has been said already but i have to state that Man Utd v Inter is the tie of the round. The current holders of the trophy against the reigning champions of Italy who have a manager that has a great history in the english game.

    Liverpool v Madrid is historically a good game but Liverpool whilst being Champion league experts, have never won the premier league. Also Real Madrid have done very little in europe over the past few seasons to justify a top billing as serious contenders.

    Forest have won more European cups than Chelsea and Arsenal!

    I also think Uefa should introduce trophies so that if/when the champions of leagues play each other they are play for a little extra recognition.

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  • 151. At 11:41pm on 19 Dec 2008, robtheref wrote:

    very tough draw for the big 4 in my opinion

    there could be a possiblity of them all going out.

    can see atleast 3 spanish sides in the last 8 this season, they got a very kind draw except real madrid.

    3 anglo-italian ties which should be very interesting.

    this draw must be fixed.

    as a liverpool fan we would of been better off coming 2nd and playing porto but, if the english clubs can all get through we will play in the final again.

    have to say roma will take some stopping remember the final is in the stadio olympico their home stadium what a massive incentive

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  • 152. At 11:51pm on 19 Dec 2008, NotNikosBG wrote:

    As an aside, I see a lot of, 'Arsenal will be the only likely casualty', talk. That to me is rubbish, by then it will be Liverpool in trouble and Real in the ascendancy with new signings and direction, if anything Liverpool will falter. It's not about what's happening now after all.

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  • 153. At 11:58pm on 19 Dec 2008, AlexOjideagu wrote:

    Why are so many putting Roma to beat Arsenal? Arsenal are 5th in the league Roma 10th in the League.

    Ok they beat Chelsea once thats hardly makes them world beaters.

    Inter have been awful in the champions league qualifying with 8 points, but they do have talent. Id still be surprised to see them knockk out Man United.

    Real Madrid have all but a slim chance if they do not sort out their defence, simple as that.

    Juventus Chelsea will be a close game.

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  • 154. At 00:36am on 20 Dec 2008, collie21 wrote:

    82. At 4:58pm on 19 Dec 2008, Crazyteknohed wrote:
    "Lyon could beat Barca. i dunno why people are overrating Barcelona, i know with Messi Eto'o and Xavi they're fantastic but still they could lose."

    ------------------------------------------------
    Yes they could loose, but it's Lyon, Houlier was the manager here and did well with them. They are not winning the cup this year and I don't think they are beating Barcelona either. I would strain at Barca ManUtd final, but I still think Barca will win.
    In truth however, I know no more than the majority of posters here, but living in France close to the Italian border I am perhaps slightly better placed to be slightly more informed and less biased. Basically 90% of posters here are talking Balls. Only about 3% have a real educated clue.
    I say the last 8 will be
    Juve
    Villareal
    Sporting Lisbon( yes bayern are not as before)
    Atletico Madrid
    Barca
    Liverpool ( although I wish different)
    Roma
    Man Utd.

    I wonder what the odds are? If you win on it let me know

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  • 155. At 02:00am on 20 Dec 2008, jdrawmer wrote:

    Post #2 - Mourinho wouldn't know what to do with 2 wingers? He suited his tactics to the players Chelsea had at their disposal. Chelsea haven't had a good true winger for years and never did when he was in charge. If he had adopted a wide approach to Chelsea during his realm just for the sake, they would have been ripped apart.

    I believe Mourinho is the front runner to the Man United post if he wants it. As class as O'Neill is, nobody can truly say he has proved his worth at TOP top level with the big money players like Mourinho has - and not many managers have. With a job the size of replacing Fergie's record, who better than a manager that beat him to the title in 2 consecutive seasons?

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  • 156. At 02:02am on 20 Dec 2008, jdrawmer wrote:

    I'll be keeping my eye on Chelsea Vs Juventus. Definitely the dark horse tie of the round.

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  • 157. At 02:04am on 20 Dec 2008, AtheisticMind wrote:

    As a United fan, I still feel the pain of losing to AC Milan twice. A win at the San Siro is a lovely gift to all United fans. It's not AC Milan but still a Milan side.

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  • 158. At 02:22am on 20 Dec 2008, gringo Loco wrote:

    what your opinion is on the top 4 of The Premier League reaching the last 4 in the Champions League?

    Zero. The draw will almost certainly pit one against another in the 1/4s. Just like last year.

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  • 159. At 02:53am on 20 Dec 2008, WordsofWisdom wrote:

    Mourinho for OT! hell will freeze over first. I can't understand why so many people rate this arrogant little parrot.

    And Liverpool fans reverting to ancient history....now there's a surprise. They'll clutch at any straw available to try and justify that THEY should be getting more attention than Utd.

    Win a PL for starters I say. This season is getting better and better with the ever growing optimism from the scousers. With an average team and poor squad it will be amusing to watch it all come tumbling down again!

    And I'll be first in line to say "I told you so!"

    On the ties, all difficult and all could go either way. Form in Fenruary will be the decider.

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  • 160. At 03:01am on 20 Dec 2008, bongkapee wrote:

    I think the key to the inter-Man U tie lies in which inter is going to turn up on the matchday because everyone knows Man U doesn't really mess up on the big stage. Is it gonna be the perennial sleeping giant of europe that got smashed in the group stage or is it the inter that has completely dominated opposition like juve and roma in the serie a. In those games inter had the style and aura of the old Chelsea about them: tight, disciplined, in control. Inter will need that and then some to win. They need zlatan ibrahimovic to come out from the shadows and show his genius. They need maicon to be flying and cambiasso to battle hard.
    Mourinho now has 2 months to steel his side, erase it's inferiority complex. Odds are stacked against him i think.

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  • 161. At 03:27am on 20 Dec 2008, gringo Loco wrote:

    At the moment Barca are favourites, but even they will have to be close to their best to progress.

    Don't forget Greece 2004.

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  • 162. At 05:05am on 20 Dec 2008, Stat_Boy wrote:

    To #111, that was Ivan Ramirez Cordoba, who as you said was our saving grace that night for 81 minutes until he did his knee.

    Anyway, people who keep saying Man. United will beat Inter because Burdisso and Materazzi are terrible, well sorry to break it to you, but they're our 4th and 5th choice Center Backs.

    Our Defense will be made up of Maicon as RB, Cordoba and Samuel as the CB's, and either Maxwell or Chivu at LB, depending on the way we intend on playing in the 1st Leg, but i think Chivu will get the nod due to his better defensive qualities.

    In midfield, Esteban Cambiasso will be our general, with a re-invigorated Dejan Stankovic playing behind the front two, the other two midfielders will be Javier Zanetti and one of Patrick Vieira and Sulley Muntari, even Luis Figo might get the surprise role.

    Upfront, it's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and most likely Julio Cruz or Mario Balotelli. My choice would be to play Hernan Crespo as i think he is just a terrific player for these sorts of matches, but i think Mourinho will go with Cruz.

    Then on the Bench, the choices will be Amantino Mancini, Quaresma, Crespo, Balotelli, Toldo, and probably Materazzi to go with Maxwell or Chivu depending on who gets the LB role.

    Overall, i think people who think United will stroll past us, are just being completely ignorant. We are 6pts clear in Serie A, ad as I've said on numerous occasions, the Serie A has been the focus the first half of the season, and the UCL Group Stages are all about getting through, so the form we showed in that shouldn't be really taken into account. The form that should be taken into account is our Serie A form, and we've won 7 straight including wins over a then 2nd place Udinese, Juventus who are now 2nd, Napoli who are 3rd, Lazio who were 6th plus Palermo away which is a very tough place to go. That's the form that should be read into, not the meaningless match against Bremen and Panathinaikos in Matchday's 5 and 6.

    It's the tie of the round, no questions about it, to me two of the Top 5 clubs in the world, and i think anyone who dismisses us, do it at your own peril, because really, basing your so called "opinions on Serie A", it really shows your lack of knowledge in the League, and the effects that the British Media has had on the British public.

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  • 163. At 05:13am on 20 Dec 2008, Stat_Boy wrote:

    As for the other two Italian sides, Juventus and Roma, again dismiss them at your own peril.

    First the Arsenal vs. Roma tie. Roma are to me, the equal 2nd best side in Serie A, along with Juventus, and the both of them sit just behind Inter Milan. In Roma's case they may be 10th, but they've won 6 on the trot, plus 3 straight in the Champions League including a 3-1 win over Chelsea.

    Roma are one very dangerous side, to me they have arguably one of the best Starting Xi's in the world.

    In the Center of Defense they have Phillipe Mexes and Juan, their Wing Backs aren't as good, to me Riise is an average at best player, but it's the midfield and upfront where Roma are at their very best.

    In Midfield they have Danielle De Rossi and Alberto Aquilani in the Center of Midfield, two products of the Roma Youth System, and two fine players, then on the wings you have the young French star Jeremy Menez, who's in dazzling form, and Matteo Brighi on the other side, who's coincidently Roma's leading scorer in the Champions League.

    Then upfront you have the pride of Roma, Francesco Totti, who's getting back to his best, and Mirko Vucinic, who's the X-Factor for Roma, and has very many similar characteristics to one Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    Combined with Arsenal's shaky at best defense, and i think Roma will win this one, i just think they'll have too much for Arsene Wenger's side.

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  • 164. At 05:20am on 20 Dec 2008, Stat_Boy wrote:

    The final Italian tie is that of Juventus vs, Chelsea. To me Juventus have to go in favorites.

    Chelsea have been struggling in the Premiership recently, losing at Home to Arsenal, and drawing 1-1 with West Ham, they're not the same side they were, especially at Home. Anelka might be doing the job for them, but Drogba is the X-Factor for Chelsea, and he must start.

    Juventus are a great side, they're sitting 2nd in Serie A, have won 8 of their last 9, their only blemish a 1-0 loss to Inter Milan at the San Siro where they were played off the pitch, but apart from that result, they've been brilliant. A 4-2 win over AC Milan last weekend showed that they do have a shot at winning both the Champions League and the Serie A.

    People question their depth, well here's some players they were missing in that 4-2 win over AC Milan. Gianluigi Buffon, Christian Poulsen, Tiago, Mauro Cameronasi, Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet. Household names, and absolute quality too. Don't underestimate The Old Lady, they're a very good side.

    Upfront they have Del Piero who's like a fine wine getting better with age, plus arguably the best signing of the transfer window in Amauri who they picked up from Palermo for some $24M Euro's. Amauri has scored 10 times in Serie A, including 2 against AC Milan last weekend, and it always an aerial threat, which is how he scores most of his goals.

    Chelsea will certainly have to be at their very best to stop The Old Lady.

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  • 165. At 07:13am on 20 Dec 2008, giantDennyB wrote:

    Is Phil McNulty actually a football analyst. Is he actually paid by BBC to be biased in his analysis. I wonder how any right thinking objective person would expect all 4 English teams to progress against equally stong and maybe stronger/better opponents with more experience.
    An objective analysis would either see two English teams qualifying into the last 8 or none of them qualifying at all or at most 3 getting into the last 8.
    1. The game of the round being ManU vs Inter Milan could go either way. On a good day, ManU could wreck any team and so also on a good day, Inter could wreck any team. On recent form, I expect Inter to qualify as ManU have struggled against weaker oppositions. Moreover, Jose knows how to frustrate ManU kind of game, he knows how to make ManU to abandon their game plan (attacking and creative football) and play his game which is unattractive but produces the desired result.
    2. Liverpool vs Real could go either way as Liverpool does spring surprises. But Real knows how to deal with English oppositions and have actually won against English teams. ManU is a witness to this. Player for player, real is better and Iker Casilas is no. 1 goal keeper in Spain ahead of Liverpool's goal keeper. That they lost to Juventus and Barca does not mean Liverpool is better as Liverpool could not win against Fulham, West Ham etc. If Real gets their acts together, I see them beatng Liverpool silly. Febuary is enough time for them to prepare with players like Van der Vaart, Nelsteroy, Robben, Huntellar, Diarra, Raul as against Gerrard and Torres.
    3. Chelsea vs Juventus could go either way. If the match was played now, I would give it to Juventus as Chelsea is a confused team with no idea when against a top side and with a confused Scolari. But in Febuary, I expect Essein and Carvallho to be back. I expect that the coach would have known how to make optimum use of Drogba and back him with Anelka. If Chelsea stars all return to duty, I expect Chelsea to go past Juventus though with stiff opposition.
    4. Arsenal vs Roma is not something I enjoy thinking about as Arsenal will pose no opposition due to Arsene Wengers policy of letting experience players leave at their peak. Arsenal is so inexperience at this level of CL. They struggled through the rounds as they won Dynamo Kiev with a controversial goal at Emirate to get to the last 16. Against Kiev, they looked cnfused and I dont see them holding the more experienced Roma. They only have Adebayo, van Persie, Fabregas and Toure wh can be said to be reliable. They rest of the squad will make the feeder team of ManU or Barca. Someone will say but they won Chelsea. With an offside 1st goal and lucky 2nd against a sleeping Chelsea.

    OBJECTIVE PREDICTION
    ManU/Inter 47/53% chance of winning.
    Liverpool/Real is 49/51% chance of winning
    Chelsea/Juventus is 60/40% chance of winning
    Arsenal/Roma is 40/60% chance of winning

    Winning the Spanish league is much more tougher than winning the English league. In England, we can predict the first 4 teams, in Spain, you cant predict the first 4 as a team that struggles against relegation in a previous season can go all the way as contenders for the league crown as Sevilla, Athletic Madrid, Valencia, Betis, Deportivo have shown in recent times.We must learn to accept that it is better to be objective so that we dont get disappointed with the outcome of the results with undue hope for the EPL teams.

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  • 166. At 09:08am on 20 Dec 2008, jus9ball wrote:

    #133 - Thanks. Although it looks like #117 was attempting to pay attention. I get the feeling they missed the point tho. To subtle I guess ;-)

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  • 167. At 09:31am on 20 Dec 2008, Joe wrote:

    I have seen several posts from obviously regular readers pointing out that NikosBg is just a wind-up merchant. Whether this is true or not is not really relevent. Either way it makes amusing reading. I have noticed that fewer people are responding to his daft comments so the effect is wearing off.

    To all those people out there who are UK or more specifically England bashers a small piece of advice - your problem is that just because you think England is still the centre of the universe that all English people think the same as well. They do not. The other problem is that because English is such a universal language you focus on English written articles and blogs because that is what you can and do read. The internet is basically another example of a British idea which was then developed by the Yanks.

    If you could read other languages (such as French, German, Afrikaans, American. Australian, etc.) you would realise that the arrogance and conceit you are assigning to the English would be multiplied by several degrees in other societies. If you lived in certain countries you would see that many of them swing from one extreme to the other - either they are the best in the world and you better know and believe it or they are the worst and everyone in charge of the team deserves to be shot. A classic example of this is South African rugby. One moment they are the total pits and the next they are deservedly World Champions.

    As someone born and brought up abroad I like the fact that most of the British commentators, broadcasters and writers are so unbias in their reporting. When you hear an excited voice on TV in the Middle East saying that hopefully with divine intervention their team will win there is not much confusion as to whose side they are on! Many people in the Middle East listen to the BBC because they think it is the only source of information that tells them the truth about what is going on in the region.

    I was always confused about the supposed arrogance of the British (mainly English) as all I ever hear and read when I am in the UK is just how rubbish we are at everything nowadays - trains, NHS, cars, roads, etc. Also, how could such an 'arrogant' race be so famous for being able to laugh at themselves? Regardless, I still know people who genuinely believe that the UK runs the USA and that our 'Empire' is now hidden from view but still manipulating the world.

    Phil simply points out that all the English teams stand a chance of going through despite the quality of the opposition and this is interpreted as arrogance? So, if he had said that none of them stand a chance do you think that would be more sensible?Many posts are bitter about the fact that so much money is sloshing around the EPL but did they say the same about La Liga and Serie A? As soon as the Premier League bubble bursts and all our clubs go bankrupt we will get blamed for this as well I am sure.

    I used to think that bias was just a matter of intellect being suppressed by passion which I can understand in most humans. However, the older I get the more I realise that it is not just passion but ignorance that is involved which is why we get to read such bizarre observations after every blog.

    Regards, Joe.

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  • 168. At 09:51am on 20 Dec 2008, paul hewson wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 169. At 10:56am on 20 Dec 2008, Worst_Firm_In_The_World wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 170. At 11:23am on 20 Dec 2008, dhimmi wrote:

    The sooner this game killing Champions League closed shop is dismantled the better

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  • 171. At 11:34am on 20 Dec 2008, jaysnoe wrote:

    I will be delighted to see Jose back in the premiership. The league needs a few managers with his character. I hope it wont be long before he is bak.
    I am an unashamed Mourinho fan and it is my hope that he will be Liverpool's next manager once they decide to let go of Rafa the the big boss.
    Please Jose Make us the migty reds happy and beat Man U.

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  • 172. At 12:16pm on 20 Dec 2008, jonesstrikesback wrote:

    Its a cracker... But I just dont know. I think the European clubs will be wanting to put right the wrongs of their performances over the last few seasons.
    English clubs have dominated recently in the competition, but Liverpools domestic title shot - I think- will derail them in both comps this season. If they exit at the hands or Real Madrid, and there is no reason why it couldn't happen should Gerrard or Torres be out injured.
    Chelsea - Juve. Im a blue but I expect us to go out... I think the league is Chelsea's ambition this year.
    United are a pale colour of what they were last year but should get through, and Aresenal could find Italy a very difficult place to go, just ask blues fans this year.
    Im backing to from the UK to go out this round and none to make the final this season.
    As for Barcelona, expect the wheels to come off. They've had no dip in form, no major injuries, and despite that are only 8 clear in La Liga. I think when they meet real class in the Champs League, they'll be tested.

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  • 173. At 12:29pm on 20 Dec 2008, contemplativedokus wrote:

    mourinho was pupular in part to his presence and communication skills, a delight compared to some of the typical english coaches. His tactics based on continental cautiousness, qua football not really a delight to watch. everything is geared to result. At most occassions find then 1-0 results. Qua changes of premier clubs, guess Arsenal best changes, in 2 months much has changed, Real better and probably beat Liverpool especially if they have to relinguish title to Barca. Juve found very strong away and home, toss up, and midfield decider, or probably a shoot out.

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  • 174. At 1:00pm on 20 Dec 2008, alpeshcgujjar wrote:

    I only have one thing to say..
    If Jose beats United AGAIN then all the bosses off the field will definitely think about Jose first to replace Sir Alex...
    Jose is the first man United will follow to replace Sir Alex.

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  • 175. At 1:45pm on 20 Dec 2008, madeiraman57 wrote:

    If both teams bring out their big guns I believe United will just nick it if all of the players do their jobs and the subs perform on cue.As a Man. United fan,I think we definitely miss CQ in the C League knock out games.
    Also, if Hargreaves was fit and playing I think it would be a stroll all the way to the final, but,as he's out for the season it's going to be tough , with the rub of the green we will win it all again.
    As for the other PL teams fixtures, I go against the majority opinions here and pick RM to beat L'Pool, Chelsea to scrape through on penalties , especially if Essien is fit and sorry to say Arsenal to be eliminated because they are so inconsistent.

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  • 176. At 1:57pm on 20 Dec 2008, Barry wrote:

    Come on Real Madrid. Shut the scousers up!

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  • 177. At 3:20pm on 20 Dec 2008, Stuslam wrote:

    Man U v Inter is not exactly a game that can be predicted...it will depend on who takes their chances,whose in-form,who has any luck and probably most importantly on how Fergie chooses to line up!away from home in recent years and sometimes at home he has tended to play 3 in central mid and 1 up front which we are very slowly beginning to adapt to,however we are at our best when we have a no.9 style striker with a no.10 and two wingers.
    At the mo Utd are lacking the no.9 striker which makes it very hard for us to push teams back,we have too many players droppin deep and the game gets very congested therefore we have to pass and move brilliantly and don`t seem to be gettin the simple goals like Van the man used to get for us(not countin Crappa Osaka)....so i wud love to see us sign a proper out n out striker in Jan and then Inter will be a lot easier.

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  • 178. At 3:20pm on 20 Dec 2008, ManUtd Till I Die wrote:

    Manchester united is not a small club.Manchester united is currently the biggest club in Europe from my own point of view.When you win the domestic league,champions league and less than 24hours away to victory on the Fifa World clubs cup in Japan, then such club will always become an instant treat to any other club at the moment.Inter Milan has lost 2 games before getting to the knockout stage of the champions league and with or without Jose Morinho, I don't see Inter Milan making any difference.I see Manchester United beat Inter Milan comfortably"home and away" to reach the quarter finals of the champions league.People should stop mixing up real situations, Manchester United did not lose a game to get to this stage of the champions league so far and Inter Milan are not near suitable match to Manchester United atall when you look at current forms of both clubs so far in this competition.If you want to be a real and true champion, you don't have to lose a game till you win trophies in any competition.Jose Morinho walked away from his job as Chelsea manager just a week he was to face Manchester United at old trafford, he knew clearly that Manchester United were at their best and he simply was avoiding a horrible defeats in the hands of Manchester united at that time.So I don't see Jose Morinho making any difference and I can assure you 100% that Inter Miland and Jose Morinho has reached End of the Road because Manchester United will surely send them off from the champions league in March 09.How dare you have such thoughts about Morinho succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson as manager? This is absolutely a disgraceful statement because Manchester United has a very outstanding tradition when it comes to clubs dicipline and maintaining legacies... Jose Morinho haven't got the quality to become a Manchester United Fc manager.

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  • 179. At 3:22pm on 20 Dec 2008, digitaljacknife wrote:

    I think all the teams should go thru and demonstrate yet again y were teh best league in the world

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  • 180. At 3:31pm on 20 Dec 2008, ManUtd Till I Die wrote:

    Manchester united is the current european champions and they are not in the position to worry over meeting any elite europe clubs at this stage of the competition.From my own point of view, Manchester United will beat Inter Milan home and away because they are not match atall going by current clubs performance.The idea or thoughts of Jose Morinho succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson as Machester united manager is very disgraceful and nasty to we Old Trafford faithfuls.

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  • 181. At 4:01pm on 20 Dec 2008, sportsmagic wrote:

    If Barcelona is such a big threat to every team in the champions league and it is quite obvious that the power in barcelona lies on Merci and Eto; then why is world of soccer still debating on who is the world best today. Forget colour; Eto deserve to be nominated.

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  • 182. At 4:11pm on 20 Dec 2008, gunnerslover2007 wrote:

    "Forget colour; Eto deserve to be nominated."
    Sorry but only two years since Ronaldinho last won it are we really going to sit around and pretend the B'alon dior wouldn't be awarded to a black guy? Eto'o was rubbish last season, and they tried to hike him in the summer after Henry who was lambasted from all corners still managed to out score him, thats why he wasn't nominated. Suggesting racist motives in these situations just dilutes the issues and lends credance to cries of over political correctness from the nationalist right (actual racists).

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  • 183. At 5:43pm on 20 Dec 2008, AlexOjideagu wrote:

    Sportsmagic dont bring colour into it you're embarrasing people who are black who dont think that.

    Eto' was crap last season everyone knows that, how the hell did he deserve to be nominated?

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  • 184. At 6:19pm on 20 Dec 2008, Stokerambo wrote:

    Great tactician and successful manager he is, but I for one am not a fan of Jose Mourinho and I do not miss him from the English game at all.

    True greatness requires one thing - humility - and it is something Mourinho doesn't have. He is in a similar vein to Cristiano Ronaldo, who said he was the deserved winner of the Ballon D'Or, and anyway never shirks an opportunity to make sure we all know how fantastic he is.

    It is a trait I don't like in any walk of life, sport in particular.

    As for 'The Special One' becoming Sir Alex's successor at Old Trafford, there is nothing more I would dislike watching than his brand of percentage 'win-at-all-costs' football. We will see his true colours if his team loses the European tie and what kind of excuses he will come up with.

    This is exactly the reason I find it such a shame Rafa Benitez is at Liverpool: he actually comes accross as being a genuine, magnanimous man - win, lose or draw!

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  • 185. At 6:28pm on 20 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    MANUNITED4EVER wrote:

    "Manchester united is not a small club.Manchester united is currently the biggest club in Europe from my own point of view.When you win the domestic league,champions league and less than 24hours away to victory on the Fifa World clubs cup in Japan, then such club will always become an instant treat to any other club at the moment.Inter Milan has lost 2 games before getting to the knockout stage of the champions league and with or without Jose Morinho, I don't see Inter Milan making any difference.I see Manchester United beat Inter Milan comfortably"home and away" to reach the quarter finals of the champions league.People should stop mixing up real situations, Manchester United did not lose a game to get to this stage of the champions league so far and Inter Milan are not near suitable match to Manchester United atall when you look at current forms of both clubs so far in this competition.If you want to be a real and true champion, you don't have to lose a game till you win trophies in any competition.

    Manchester united is the current european champions and they are not in the position to worry over meeting any elite europe clubs at this stage of the competition.From my own point of view, Manchester United will beat Inter Milan home and away because they are not match atall going by current clubs performance."


    Learn how to beat Aalborg, Celtic and Villareal first and then you can start thinking about Inter Milan.

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  • 186. At 6:29pm on 20 Dec 2008, gokes_in_zar wrote:

    Fair point Robbo about Man Utd travelling half the way around the globe to play in a tournament few in England take seriously, especially at this stage of the season. However, anyone recall how the English Football authorities 'resisted' the great Sir Matt Busby when he catapulted Man Utd into Europe's elite by entering the then European Cup? It was by no means then, as important and prestigious as todays Champions League. Sir Alex Fergusson has said that in 30 or 40 years time a win for Man Utd as the first British winners will serve us well. It's no coincidence that both these managers have the title of Sir!

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  • 187. At 6:45pm on 20 Dec 2008, Edmund wrote:

    Does anyone realise that it is INTERNAZIONALE, the team, not one man, who is playing in this game?

    Managers generally are cited as the only significant thing about a team, whereas they are not at all.

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  • 188. At 7:10pm on 20 Dec 2008, gokes_in_zar wrote:

    On the 'wee' matter of Jose Mourinho replacing 'The Great One' at Old Trafford, I for one would be extremely dissapointed. Jose Mourinho is a superb tactician, possibly the best in the business, in my opinion. But football is more than just tactics and percentages. It's about skill, passion, flair, style...often the things we identify with in life itself! I'd much rather watch Arsene Wenger's team than Jose Mourinho's. I just hope that when the time comes, the powers at OT don't ignore the great traditions of the club.

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  • 189. At 9:58pm on 20 Dec 2008, nibs wrote:

    Tonight Robben tormented Valencia from the right.

    So who's gonna mark him and stop his runs? Alvaro Arbeloa? Or Dossena? :D

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  • 190. At 07:42am on 21 Dec 2008, cecilinator wrote:

    Some good draws ... all quite tough to call.
    Even though I'm a Liverpool fan i can't deny that the Inter-United game is the showpiece. This is so hard to call as I think Inter are very, very strong down the middle of the park (Cambiasso,Stankovic, Vieira, Samuel, Cordoba and Chivu), they don't really have a pedigree of wingers, Quaresma aside. I think if Mourinho leaves his wing-backs exposed, Inter will get beat. Evra and Brown/Neville/Silva could potentially thwart Maicon and Maxwell when they get forward and leave them for dust when Man United attack. I think United will win 2-0 on aggregate. Key Battles : Evra v Maicon, Ibrahimovic v Ferdinand, Carrick v Cambiasso.

    Liverpool v Madrid again is a tough one. Although alot of people see Liverpool as favourites, Madrid will be no push-over, particularly at the Bernebau. Madrid have the perfect mix of expirience; Casillas, Cannavaro and Raul, and exciting prospect; Marcelo and in particular Arjen Robben who for me will be the key man for Real. Arbeloa or Aurelio will have a major job on. Also they have a certain 20 million euro Dutch striker with a point to prove. However, Liverpool have a very strong midfield three in Masch, Alonso and Gerrard and I think they will be the key in this tie; Masch to stop Madrid playin through the middle, Alonso to hit the 60 yard passes and Gerrard to play behind the one-man striker. I think Liverpool will play for the draw in Spain and nick a goal at Anfield,so 1-0 to Liverpool. Key Battles: Robben v Arbeloa/Aurelio, Gerrard v Diarra, Casillas v Reina.

    Chelsea v Juventus ... Chelsea could very well slip up here. Juventus looked very good when they beat AC and Chelsea will have to be prepared for the aerial threat of Amauri. Juve just have so many intelligent players in Nedved, Del Piero and Camoranasi and they will be just to productive for Chelsea in my opinion. Draw at the Bridge and a 2-0 Juve win in Turin. Key Battles: Terry v Amauri, Deco v Poulson, Anelka v Chiellini.

    The Arsenal v Roma game is the hardest to call as you never know which Aresnal team is going to turn up. A good Arsenal display and I expect them to overturn Roma, a poor Arsenal display and they are out because Totti and Vucinic will punish them if they defend poorly. I am finding it tough to call but I think Arsenal will win at the Emirates so I'll go a 2-1 Arsenal aggregate win. Key Battles: Totti v Gallas, Menez v Clichy, Van Persie v Mexes

    So Man U, Liverpool, Juventus and Arsenal to go through in my opinion.


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  • 191. At 11:01am on 21 Dec 2008, thefartedone wrote:

    M.U is not playing well lately and it has been proven that they are one man team with C.Ronaldo ( they will fight to prove otherwise but its true), they are not scoring more goals like last year and rooney and berbatov is not in form, I believe Intermilan should progress to last 8 with a narrow win but they are not playing well in Europe some thing which is a real enigma comparing to thier domestic form, may be they lack motivation against smaller teams!jose needs to prove his worth and his credentials is at stake and he'll be judged based on the results in europe not in Italy where he cannot do much to improve manicini's record with the club , he should do better in CL to raise his profile in England if he's looking for M.U job ( he recently said far too many good things about M.U and alex and may be that is a signal). He was playing with 2 wingers in 4-3-3 formation during his first 2 years in england and he was forced to change the system in to 4-1-3-1 and 4-4-2 to accomodate ballack and shevchenko which was not under his control and he was forced to follow the order from Roman and people are criticizing him for that, he brought quaresma and manicini and played 4-3-3 during the begining of the season but changed it b'cos both of them failed to perform. he had tranformed sulley muntari in to a better player like he did with Lampard, Jose is special and he transformed chelsea, He mastered the Italian language with in 6 months and that shows the dedication from the man.
    Liverpool may beat Madrid but its going to be a tough task with thier current players who cannot play well with out gerrad and torres they failed to break modest defence of WH and Fulham in Anfeild.
    Chelsea to go out of the competition against Juventus who trashed mardid in both legs they are not as strong as before they are passing tooo much and loosing the ball in that process like arsenal!!

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  • 192. At 1:47pm on 21 Dec 2008, BritAbroad wrote:

    One thing I didn't quite understand about the article was:-

    [Quote]Juventus will also provide stern opposition for Chelsea, but Luiz Felipe Scolari will be happy to have missed Barcelona, and I fancy last season's runners-up to navigate what will be a tricky assigment.

    Chelsea will hope to have almost a full compliment of players by the time the ties are played, and even though Juve topped their group and improved from earlier in the season when Ranieri's post was under threat, they should reach the last eight.[/Quote]

    Are you saying Juve will reach the last eight ?

    Anyway, I don't read much into predictions and form now.. I'ts December, We are still some time away from the rounds being played.. Chelsea will be hopeful of a Santa present of a fully fit 1st time, like we started the season. If that happens then I would see progress to the next round.

    As of today, yes you could say Barca are favourites, but don't forget they have not come up against Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool.. It's ok to win your group and win it with ease, but your name does not get engraved on the trophy until after the final..

    February is when this competition really gets underway, I see all EPL clubs with a chance to progress, Yes Roma did beat Chelsea well in Rome, but that was not the real Chelsea that turned up. Arsenal will have no problem with them, As Arsenal have proved time and again this season, They can lift their game for the big occassions.. It's the games they should have won which have let them down.. They might even be a good bet to win the CL.

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  • 193. At 4:11pm on 21 Dec 2008, thejoker10 wrote:

    There are only three managers out there at the moment who have the clout to be manager of manchester utd.
    1. Jose Mourinho.
    2. Guus Hiddink.
    3. Martin o'Neil. (maybe)
    anyone else who can think of anyone post it

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  • 194. At 5:57pm on 25 Dec 2008, fahmyboy wrote:

    im an ARSENAL FAN HERE. i know Inter are very good and have a good coach but liverpool are definelty through

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