Fixture Dates: Tuesday, 2nd April 2013 and Wednesday 10th April 2013
PSG v Barcelona : Money meets History
A friend once told me that French Football is surely never going to go away that easily from the European view. Paris Saint Germain now has the task as the sole survivor from Ligue 1 to carry the French soul to the greatest of heights.
As French Football has over the years been viewed as being on a decline, Spanish football has far much gained fame a and popularity; helped by the fact that they are World and European Champions. Also, in recent times, it has been the Spanish clubs – Real Madrid in the early 2000’s and Barcelona in the late – that have dominated European football.
This tie in itself presents to us two contrasting styles of play as both seek to outwit each other for Europe’s prime trophy. It’s not just the styles that come into play too – the idea that financial muscle can create what was nothing to be something in the span of not more than half a decade meets the idea of continuity and genuine hunger for success even in a financially corroded footballing atmosphere.
Whereas most would view PSG to depend on the one man they have in Zlatan Ibrahimovic (himself an ex- Barcelona star), the same is not thought of Barcelona. They boast an array of goal scoring threats, right from the back to the lead trio of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta.
‘’This is not an easy draw. We are excited because this will allow us to gauge our level against the top world level.’’
Christoph Jallet,PSG’s right back
It’s no surprise then that the PSG defence more than ever have to come to the party having in mind what Barcelona have been able to do to opponents over the past recently being the great AC Milan.
It would also be wise to note- that amidst all the hullabaloo of defending well against a well-oiled Barcelona machine; the idea in itself doesn’t fruit any team goals. Attack is the best form of defence they say- for a case study of Barcelona the rules may be slightly bent. Precise attacking is the best form of defence and solid defending the best way to stopping Barcelona.
Whereas Barcelona seem to be slicing their way through in most competitions even without their manager who is battling cancer a season after Pep walked out of the Camp Nou, a little more is expected of his counterpart at the Parc des Princes. Having watched his former side Chelsea beat this Barcelona side on their way to the title last season, Carlo Ancelotti’s only hope would be to photocopy the same script by beating Barcelona and advancing to the Semi-Finals and who knows? A final appearance would not only be a dream but a perfect one. Not just for the players but even the Qatar Investment Authority.
Bayern Munich v Juventus : Clash of the European Titans
Stand-out tie of the Champions League Quarter-Final draw? Absolutely. The dream tie of the draw? Most certainly. Hoping the quality of football will turn out as such.
Both teams are traditional giants of the European game and naturally the tie is always going to generate massive interest. Domestically, both have been in imperious form this season and are odds on to be crowned champions. Bayern boast a healthy lead over Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund, while Juventus enjoy the same ahead of the chasing pack in their quest to retain the Scudetto. Thus the strength and might of these two is clear for all to see.
The last time these two sides clashed in the Champions League, Bayern produced a master class get-out-of-jail show in Turin to run out 4-1 winners as they advanced to the knock-out phase of the 2009-2010 season. Times have inevitably changed and a similar result is improbable. Juve, under Antonio Conte have evolved into a mean, efficient machine that suffocates opponents to submission gracefully. Utilising a 3-5-2 formation, La Vecchia Signora, in many pundits’ view is the hardest team to crack in Europe. Their players are experienced and equipped to bring out the best of that system and of course Conte is Italian – and you know about Italian gaffers and tactics.
On the other hand Bayern Munich really is the most complete team this season. After the agony of coming so close and faltering on home soil last May, the bosses at the club have pulled all stops to conjure up a world-beating side boasting the famed German efficiency as well as the Spanish-esque silky style. They too have a water-tight defence. Their slight edge could be their industrious and devastatingly effective midfield complimented by a more than potent attack. Add to that the fact that in Jupp Heynckes, FC Hollywood has a manager who is taking his final bow in the game and is thus determined to leave on a high at all costs.
Motivation is not a big problem here.
This is a clash pitting an immovable object (Juventus) against an irresistible force (Bayern).
Something has got to give, for sure, but the question remains. Which one?
** The rest of this article is set to appear on ilfabiano.blogspot.com **
*** All images courtesy of zimbio.com ***