It’s a strange time of the season really.
While I’m intrigued with who will get through the Champions League Semi-Finals and make it to Athens, the emotional memories of that night in Villarreal where Jens Lehmann made some simply outstanding saves and denied Riquelme from the penalty spot to take us to Paris come flooding straight back to me.
That still brings a tear to my eye!
But a year on and Arsenal aren’t in the mix – the 4 teams remaining who are fighting to get into the final are AC Milan, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
So who will make it?
Manchester United are 3-2 up against AC Milan but the Italians have 2 away goals which could count for a lot. You can see United scoring at the San Siro but can they keep out Kaka et al who can be a totally different prospect in front of their home crowd?
And despite United’s major injury problems over the past few weeks they could see the return of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the back which could prove vital.
And on top of that, the huge lift from this weekend’s football (virtually sealing the Premiership) will give the team a big boost going to Milan.
It’s a tough one to call, but I can see Rooney and Ronaldo helping United to score twice against an aging Milan defence. That would mean Kaka would need to score 3 goals and I just can’t see that happening!
For me United will progress.
And what about the other Semi-Final?
It’s a tough one, but if Chelsea score even one that means Liverpool need 3 goals. At Anfield that’s possible (remember Olympiakos?) but to do that against Chelsea is a totally different ball game.
Liverpool need to score first and score early to put the pressure on Chelsea – they’ll have to make a decision to either nick an away goal or hold on to what they’ve got.
Chelsea are a funny team – they’ll either go all out and smash Liverpool scoring 2 or 3 to completely kill the tie or they could be subdued, not get into the game and let Liverpool score a couple and progress.
And Anfield you just don’t know what will happen.
It’s like against the games against Arsenal this season. We beat them convincingly 3-1 in the FA Cup but then in the league everything went for them and they beat us 4-1!
You would think that the outcome of the tie totally depends on the performance of Peter Crouch. The best defender in the league this season – Ricardo Carvalho – is out and Michael Essien will have big problems coping with the height of Crouch.
The two Bolton goals at the weekend exposed Chelsea’s weakness at defending set-pieces and Essien was at fault for the second, leaving Kevin Davies with a free header to equalise. The first goal they conceded was scored from poor defending and uncertainty at the back.
Whatever happens it will be fascinating, but I fancy Chelsea to conclude a miserable week by crashing out of the Premiership and Champions League in a matter of days and for Steven Gerrard to lead Liverpool into another one of those memorable victories at Anfield.
So who do you guys think will make it to Athens?