Tuesday, April 7, 2009

CL Quarterfinals Preview: Manchester United v. Porto

We’re still not exactly sure what happened at Old Trafford on Sunday: Villa had played well enough for at least a draw, but then some 12-year-old Italian player making his debut smashed home the winner for United. (Hard for me to complain about Macheda getting poached from Lazio when Arsenal did exactly the same thing with Fabregas.) So what had initially looked to be a dreadful 48-hour turnaround for Man U turns into an opportunity to quickly continue their lucky streak today against Porto. And so the Manchester United Steamroller continues, while the rest of the world grumbles.

United are still without Berbatov and Ferdinand, but Rooney, Vidic and Scholes all return from league suspensions. It’s also expected that Park Ji-Sung will be in the lineup today. Porto have a few injury problems of their own, including captain Pedro Emanuel, and will rely upon Lisandro Lopez and Hulk (smash!) to create scoring chances.

Man U are saying all the right things about how they won’t take Porto lightly and how this is a difficult game, but if United don’t advance it would be a huge, huge shock. The only thing Porto have going for them is the return leg is at the Estádio do Dragão. But that hardly makes up for the fact that Porto has lost 10 out of their last 11 matches on English soil – and yes the one exception was when Porto won the Champions League, but Mourinho and 2004-era Deco aren’t expected to walk through that door. United, on the other hand, are working on their own record of 21 straight Champions League matches without a defeat. They’ll look to make it 22 today.

About the only chance that Porto have today is if they can impose their will on the game, if Man U’s defense is wobbly, and if Porto can capitalize on their few chances. It’s a very tall task for a young and relatively inexperienced team. So, I’m predicting a lopsided win today, let’s say 2-0 for United.

(And can someone please explain to me why this game is on live on ESPN2 rather than the more compelling Arsenal v. Villareal match? Oh right, it's because ESPN lurves Man U.)

1 comment:

Whizalen said...

Here's what needs better explaining: why is espn showing the Bayern-Barcelona match on thursday in order to show old master's highlights on classic? The decision to show liverpool-chelsea on the deuce (despite subjecting us to horrendous clashes the last couple of years) is understandable, but delaying the replay of the most enticing tie until thursday just to put it on classic anyway is mind boggling.