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We got a true doubleheader today, with an early kickoff in Turkey. That game promises flares in the stands; the one in Catalonia, fireworks on the field.
Beşiktaş (Turkey) vs. Bayern Munich (Germany) – 12:00 Central (0-5 aggregate)
Beşiktaş went undefeated in the Champions League group stage, albeit against Porto (embarrassed by Liverpool), Monaco, and Leipzig. The Turkish club had promise: in the offseason they signed Pepe from Real Madriz. As the club already had Chilean Gary Medel, Beşiktaş became the highest rated club in UEFA’s Evil Coefficient.
9/23/17 Medel (left) and Pepe discuss conceding the late winner by Fenerbahçe, via acidic-saurian.deviantart.com
Pepe is out with a fractured toe. Bayern goalie Manuel Neuer, captain of the team and of the German National Team, continues to be out. Not that Neuer’s been needed; the Bundesliga is Bayern’s and this match is dead rubber. According to bundesliga.com, Colombian James Rodríguez will return to the lineup after missing the last league game with a sore calf. He’s worth watching, as will be the crowd in Istanbul.
Beşiktaş received a “suspended two year suspension” from European play for an Europa League match last April—i.e., a “pay the fine for now” probation. I’m not rooting for a riot in Istanbul, but I’ll say this: not being a fan of the Turkish Süper Lig, methinks this will be my last use of “ş” in a loooong time.
Predicción: Beşiktaş 1 – 1 Bayern (Bayern wins on 6-1 aggregate).
Hippo: I made pretty good moneys betting that City would sleepwalk through a similar match. But the Germans are too mechanical and evil for that.
Predicción: 0-2 to the Krauts (Bayern 7-0 aggregate)
Balls: I too wish that Beşiktaş had a better shot at this game, but this will just be playing out the string. I agree with my good friend Don T in that it will end in a tie.
Prediction: Let’s call it 2-2 and hope it’s as entertaining on the pitch as it will be off…
Litre_Cola: I for one have been to quite a few stadia when I lived over there but I never got a chance to go to a game in Turkey. I reaaaallly want to see a game, hell, I would kill to see Galatasaray v Beşiktaş and would probably have to during the 90 minutes. With a 5-0 advantage Bayern walks through this one, goals are scored, flares are lit, chairs are thrown and that’s just in the Turkish neighboUrhoods in Deutschland.
Prognose: 1-3 Bayern. (Bayern 10-1 aggregate)
I am an admitted futbol nerd due to the local atmosphere on matchday and the fact that all you need is a ball and a couple of trees for anyone to play. I enjoy this video immensely.
Barcelona (Spain, for now) vs. Chelsea (UK) – 2:45 PM Central (1-1 aggregate)
I have fears. On the first leg, in London, Chelsea seemed like the aggressors. I still can’t believe Barcelona walked away with a tie, and only because of a lazy pass among defenders and an impeccable Iniesta-Messi set / kill.
This game also brings bad memories. In 2012, Chelsie went to the Camp Nou for the second leg in the Champions semis, leading 1-0. Barça scored two quick goals and John Terry got a red card (which made him miss the final; it’s the little things, people). But then Chelski got the away goal, Lionel Messi missed a PK, and then Fernando Torres put in the 2-2.
But what I really remember about this game was, late in the second half, The Flea was gonna murder—murder—Fat Frank. Thanks YouTube, for proving I’m not THAT senile.
Chelski went on to win the Champions that year in the final in Munich, against Bayern (one of the biggest chokes in sports history, IMO). That 2012 Chelsea team had a deflating EPL campaign and plenty of coaching controversy. Ultimately, not even the team’s first Champions trophy saved the manager: Roberto DiMatteo (current whereabouts, Wikipedia).
This year, Antonio Conte has gotten mostly grief. The 2017 EPL trophy and historic run appear farther than they are, because top-flight fútbol is an ungrateful, what-have-you-done-for-me-since-yesterday business. I like Conte, a lot. He deserves a better owner and likely will get it next season, regardless of today’s result.
Messi will play with extra rest, in theory. He missed last Saturday’s La Liga game with Málaga for the birth of his third son: Ciro. For mortals, two kids at home, PLUS a newborn, are the opposite of rest. But Messi ain’t mortal; he’s lethal:
Over the jumpers at the barrier, right into the top corner. Dios. Mío.
Predicción: Barcelona 2 – Chelsea 0 (Barça wins 3-1 on aggregate).
Hippo: I have had it up to here with evil. Up to HERE, I says! One can get fabuloso odds on Chelski going into Camp Nou and stealing this’un, but then again, a fool and his moneys are soon parted. I would know. Another English side bites the dust (optimistically typing this before the Manure home leg).
Predicción: 3-1 to the good (Barça 4-2 on aggregate)
Balls: It’s hard to be objective about the teams you like. No matter what, you figure out a way for them to win, no matter the odds. With Barcelona, it’s easier because the team is good and SHOULD win most games.
Having this game at home helps a lot. So does the away goal. However, this team tends to sleepwalk through large portions of games and gets caught by aggressive teams. Chelsea is one of those type of teams.
Predicción: I don’t see the Catalans losing at home. Call it 2-0 in a tense match that gets resolved in the second half thanks to Messi brilliance off a set piece.
Litre_Cola: Ok, I hate daylight savings time, it messes with my system, but when Europe does it a couple weeks later than us over here it’s great for futbol viewing. I still believe that central time is the best viewing time for all sports, I miss it.
I’m a Barca supporter in Europe and I’m a Fulham supporter for life so I hate Chelsea with everything I have. The best day will be when a wrecking ball knocks down soulless Stamford Bridge and they actually move to Chelsea. I however admit that I would love to have a couple of smokes and a chat with Conte as he is a very interesting fellow. This is in Catalonia, Messi should feast on Chelsea’s back four and Barca will not lose this early in the Champions League.
Predicción: 2-1 Barca (FCB 3-2 on aggregate)