The remaining four matches of the UEFA Champions league last16 first legs take place this week with some intriguing ties. In tonight’s matches CSKA Moscow host nine times champions Real Madrid in another encounter Chelsea will be at the Kingdom of Naples when they take on Napoli. In tomorrow’s matches, Marseille play Inter Milan and Bayern visit Basel.
CSK Moscow vs. Real Madrid (21 Feb 2012: Luzhniki Stadion: 19:00 CAT)
The Los Blancos will be heading to Eastern Europe in the air of invincible having beaten Racing Santander 4-0 in the domestic league over the weekend. They are one of the favourites to lift the title in Munich together with their bitter rivals Barcelona. Despite winning all their group matches, Jose Morinho’s man will find the going tough against the home side that are unbeaten in five matches against Spanish opposition.
Napoli vs. Chelsea (21 Feb 2012: Stadio San Paolo: 21:45 CAT)
This is one of the interesting games in this round of 16, the other coach is under immense pressure and on the other hand Napoli coach- Walter Mazzarri will miss both legs after losing an appeal against his two match ban. On Sunday there were reports that Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas could be shown the exit door if the Blues are beaten by Napoli.
The home side have been a revelation this season with their exciting strikers of Edison Cavani, Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi, the Londoners will have their work cut out if they are stop the trio at the San Paolo. It’s going to be interesting to see how both sides respond, it should be a cracker.
Marseille vs. Inter Milan (22 Feb 2012: Stade Velodrome: 21:45 CAT)
In a game that the tie that could go either way, on Wednesday night the 1993 champions clash with 2010 champions at the Stade Velodrome. On Friday night the Nerazzuri were handed a 3-0 at home by bologna leaving the coach Claudio Ranieri with so much pressure to turn around things at the Giuseppe Meazza.
With Ranieri’s future a hot topic, Marseille boss Didier Deschamps has said despite the Milan outfit’s recent downturn in results, he expecting a difficult challenge against the Italians. The French club will be without their striker Remy who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury but they will welcome the Ayew brothers from the AFCON.
Basel vs. Bayern Munich (22 Feb 2012: Saint Jakob-Park 21:45 CAT)
Basel conceded ten goals in the group stages more than any other club to reach the knockout phase. The Swiss side will pin their hopes on their coach who knows a lot about the Germany side having spent nine years in the Munich youth department- manager Heiko Vogel should be equipped enough about the 2010 runners up.
Over the weekend Munich played to a goalless draw against SC Freiburg in Germany’s Bundesliga but they should be fired to beat the Swiss side and keep the dream of playing a home finale alive. In their last visit at the St Jakob, Bayern Munich came from behind to win 2-1 in last season’s group stages.
By Terence Mthembu