The Champions League Quarter Finals – A look ahead.

As we stand on the verge of seamlessly passing into another Champions League week, what better time is there to look ahead to the mouth watering quarter final ties that await us?

Well, slightly later in the week perhaps, or even actually in said week as opposed to just before it maybe, but sod it I’m gonna do it anyway and I’ll be damned if such a trivial thing is going to stop me. So without further ado;

Bayern Munich vs Manchester United

In what could be seen by some as revenge for ‘99 for Bayern, or Revenge for ’01 for United, or even overdue revenge for Mick Hucknall and David Hasselhoff respectively if you have a very fertile imagination and an insatiable lust for revenge, two heavyweights face off in their first European Cup match up for 9 years.

Owen Hargreaves’ German hair won’t get the chance to play against it’s old owners despite being near his mythical return to action after he was removed from United’s Champions League squad for taking too long to get ready. Key player and humanoid thing Franck Ribery will be fit to start after making his comeback from injury in midweek and Arjen Robben will go in to the game buoyed after his winning goal sent Bayern through to the German Cup final, which is a coveted trophy, being as it is an impressively massive golden jewel encrusted Viking goblet type thing.

This should be an entertaining clash by all accounts, and despite United being clear favorites after their trouncing of the AC Milan senior citizens XI, having to cope with these two tricky wingers will prove a tough task for a side who gave away a lot of chances in the previous round. United will likely set up with their usual big game mutated Christmas tree formation leaving Rooney up top on his own to try and out muscle Daniel Van Buyten in the air.

However, I still see United getting a draw in Germany, which will probably be enough to progress in the tie. Bayern were whipped by Barca last year and aren’t drastically a better team, however they did cause United some problems in the coveted Audi Cup pre-season tournament, which will certainly fill the reds with an unquenchable desire for revenge since Ryan Giggs was reportedly “gutted” at not winning that one.

Arsenal vs Barcelona

In what is unquestionably the tie of the round, the two silkiest sides around will sex off at the Emirates Stadium to see who can pass the ball around the penalty area without scoring the least. Arsenal will no doubt feel confident of breaching Barca’s fairly creaky defence, but it’s everywhere else they need to worry about as this tie will almost certainly be decided by goals, just like…well, every other tie…ever.

As Thierry Henry returns to his spiritual home in North London – and to a stadium where his image is plastered massively around the outside – expect a rapturous reception and lots of little banners with crudely scribbled bad French on them. This is after all the year of the long awaited return, with Beckham, Mourinho and now Henry all returning to the places that made them legends. So far a loss and a win have transpired in the other second comings so purely for this ridiculous reason, I’m calling a draw in this one. A scoring draw though, and one which will probably suit Barca splendidly.

Cesc Fabregas will no doubt put in a titanic performance against the team that partially raised him and the club he’s constantly in a state of joining if you believe the overwhelming weight of tabloid reportage. In fact if you take every report on the matter at it’s word, he’s probably already playing for them now, and exists in a sort of Schrödinger’s cat type state of simultaneously existing in both teams.

Nicklas Bendtner, vying to become the best player in the world after already achieving the feat in his own head, will look to put his money where his mouth is as he faces the actual best player in the world in little Lionel Messi. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Gael Clichy will get positively molested by the Argentinean (not literally) and this game will all boil down to who can not give away the ball the most.

Interestingly, UEFA aren’t allowed to call the Emirates the Emirates due to sponsorship regulations and so for one brief moment, Thierry Henry will be returning to Highbury, which was actually called Arsenal Stadium, which is what UEFA insist on calling the Emirates in the Champions League. Got that? No, me neither.

Inter vs CSKA Moscow

Jose the housewives favorite won’t be pleased at having to make the 3 billion mile round trip to Moscow for the second leg during what’s shaping up to be a tight title race in Seria A, but secretly he’ll be glad he’s drawn the weakest team in the round on paper.

They’ll most likely be without Mario Balotelli who’s reportedly fallen out with Mourinho again and angered his own fans by wearing an AC Milan shirt on one of Italy’s numerous bizarrely erotic comedy game show type things. This leaves Andy Townsend’s favorite player Milly Toe and a man who was once Samuel Eto’o and who occasionally remembers this (which he did twice at the weekend) to lead the line in the San Siro.

Wesley Sneijder was the key to victory at Stamford Bridge, but he missed the sides 3-0 win at the weekend with an adductor muscle injury, which is a large group of muscles located in the hip apparently (thank you google) so his inclusion is anything but assured.

CSKA are no pushovers, but really should be pushed over anyway by a team with far more quality than they. I predict a two-goal win for the home side.

Interesting fact; CSKA Manager Leonid Slutsky had to retire from his playing career at just 19 after injuring himself falling out of a tree trying to rescue a cat. True story.

Lyon vs Bordeaux

In the match almost no-one elsewhere cares about but is no doubt a huge deal en France, the two most dominant Ligue 1 sides in recent years do battle royal for the honor of carrying the tricolor into the semi’s.

Lyon are the more experienced at this stage of the competition, but languish 6th in the table as Bordeaux slug it out with Montpellier for the title. That may be a little misleading though as there’s only 5 points difference between the two. Lyon may be full of beans after knocking out Real Madrid, but any kind of form or experience is void in these kinds of circumstances as sides from the same league are always capable of beating each other on any given day.

For this reason – and a general lack of in-depth knowledge of the French league – I’m going to completely cop out and predict a draw, although Bordeaux did beat the 2002-2008 Champions in the same fixture in December, meaning I’ll plump for them overall in the tie. Yoann Gourcuff is easily the sexiest player on display and Larry White has proven himself an astute up and coming manager in his time there.

In conclusion I’ll also apologize for this one being far more serious than the others, but I just couldn’t think of anything funny to say about the French.