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The action of the UEFA Champions League -the greatest European football tournament- is back with all the excitement to resolve the knockout stages, in which, defined by a 2-legs direct elimination the teams that managed to survive through the previous stages of the tournament will battle for the precious trophy.
The hunt for the title, currently held by Manchester United, will have 16 clubs in confrontation, in what will be a show of the best rank of football in Europe. Since in fact, from the 16, eleven are in one of the top three positions of their nations’ leagues tables (1st places: Barça, Manchester, Inter, Lyon and Porto; in 2nd: Real Madrid, Liver, Juve and Panathinaikos; as 3rd: Chelsea and Sporting).
On this phase will see 2 matches in which all the attention will centre and that will give biggest thrill to the championship, due to the high competitive level between this four excellent groups involved. The first will be the Italian leader from the Inter against the powerful English head, the Manchester United. The other confrontation will be among Real Madrid, that carries a winning streak of 9 victories in La Liga, and its current equal (in the standings of each nation), Liverpool FC, that has lost a little glitter after being divested from the peak of the Premier.
On its part, the Atlético de Madrid, now with Abel Resino as coach, comes as the favorite to win the duels against Porto, that has done a good job and that currently is in a growing chapter that has allowed them to prevail in Portugal. The participation from the Atlético in the Champions has motivated enormously the team as well as Resina, who dream with the glorious triumph.
Barcelona, leader of the Spanish league, will visit the French champion, the Olympique Lyonnais; encounter that will keep the Catalans more busy than usual, to overcome their last two results in Primera División (draw and loss) -especially with the absence of Erik Abidal and Andrés Iniesta.
With the hope of getting back the Brazilian forwards, Cicinho and Juan Silveira, fully recovered from the injuries suffered on Saturday’s match for the Calcio, Roma will measure strength with Arsenal, who won’t count with the participation of Cesc Fábregas; aspect that has already made them descend several positions, to the point of leaving the top 3 of the English league.
The incorporation of the Dutch trainer Guus Hiddink -consider one of the best around the globe-has given Chelsea the confidence need it to move on.
Thanks to the game techniques proposed by Hiddink, the Pensioners feels totally stimulated to meet a Juventus that in spite of playing a leading role in Italy, it certainly has been losing the stability from years before.
Set to achieve the feat of reaching the great final as it did three years ago, Villarreal is going to hunt that opportunity facing Panathinaikos that, due to not having a better development, has been losing options to settle at the apex of the Greek league, leaded by Olympiakos.
To close the list of encounters, another legendary club that manages to compete again in the Champions League, are the Germans from Bayern Munich, which has not been able to win in three of its last four Bundesliga clashes. This time to be capable of moving further, they will have the arduous task of dealing with Sporting de Lisboa, one of the utmost from Portugal.
Stephen Lars has been a prominent writer on daily Champions League games, sports news and the online betting industry for many exceptional sport web sites. You may reprint this article in its full content, please note no modifications to it are accepted.
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