Sunday, August 27, 2006

Here we go again...

I don't feel the same sense of anticipation for Chelsea-Barca III (or technically, Chelsea-Barca IV if we include the 2000 Champions League quarterfinal) because the teams are meeting in the groups stage and are huge favorites to move on to the knock-out stage, but the presence of Werder Bremen spices up the plot a little, since the Germans were unlucky not to knock Juve out last year and will pose a stern test for Barca or Chelsea if one side dominates the other in their two matches. Barca drew Bremen in the group stage last year and took six points, but were somewhat lucky to win 2-0 in the road leg. I'll also admit that I wasn't nervous when the draw came out because I was figuring that Barca's sterling pre-season form (4-0 over Espanyol, 4-0 over Bayern Munich) meant that the side cannot be knocked out in a six-game group format, but the team was pegged back to reality by Sevilla on Friday, so who knows. This team shouldn't have any defensive frailties with Puyol, Marquez, Thuram, and Zambrotta in the back, but they sure conceded a ton of chances and goals in a game in which they started most of their first-choice lineup.

The other group that interests me is the Lyon-Madrid-Dynamo Kiev pairing, which, like Group A, has a very strong top two and then a third team lurking that will pose problems if one of the top teams dominates the other.

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