Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Midweek Outlook (07 Dec 2005)

Benfica vs Manchester United

"What are the chances ManUtd won't qualify to the second round of ECL?"

Another potential famous last words.

We have come to the final game day of the 1st Round of the European Champions League (ECL) and it is do-or-die for all 4 teams of Group D. "D" for "Death".

Group D is by far the lowest scoring group with only 8 goals in 10 games which is a good indication how tight the defence in among the teams.

ManUtd have gotten themselves cornered this time round and for a team who has made it to the 2nd round of the ECL in 9 consecutive years, a failure tonight is unthinkable. A failure tonight would certainly marked the end of the Ferguson era.

Because the teams are so close in terms of number of points, a win for any team tonight will spell qualification. A draw may be a positive result but only at the mercy of the outcome of the other match that will be played concurrently. As such, playing for a draw will not be an option here which means that we will expect a more open play tonight among all 4 teams.

ManUtd will be traveling to Lisboa to face Benfica tonight which means that the Portuguese side will have the advantage of home ground. Speaking of the home side, Benfica has not been performing well of late with only 1 win in their last 5 games while ManUtd, in great contrast, is undefeated in the last 5 games, chalking up 4 wins from it.

Squad-wise, Koeman will be without the services of Simao, Miccoli, Geovanni and Karagounis while ManUtd have a healthy squad of names to fill in the teamsheet ahead of today's game. Expect new Captain Neville to be back in the Starting XI after missing the Portsmouth match due to injury. More good news is that we have Solksjaer fully recovered although we won't be expecting the Norwegian striker to feature in this match as he still have a bit to go as far as getting the match-fitness up to par is concerned.

Once again, we should expect van Nistelrooy and Rooney partnering up front with Fletcher and Ronaldo in the wings, while Scholes and Smith will fight to wrestle away control of the midfield for their host opponent. Don't be surprised if we see Scholes adding his name to the scoresheet tonight as he is in fiery form of late.

JayWalk The Talk: Even for a team playing away, bookies are marking ManUtd to give the 1/2 ball handicap which probably points to a very likely win for the English side. If this was a game in an earlier stage of the round, I would have gone for a draw as Benfica would probably clam up and force a draw. However, given that a draw tonight may not get the team through to the 2nd round, we can forget about getting a draw result as both teams will be going all out for the jugular. This will be a very emotionally charged game and expect quite a bit of yellow cards (or even red) being dished out as well.

JayWalk The Walk: In an all-or-nothing gamble, expect ManUtd to rise to the occasion and win this. Strenght-wise, ManUtd have the fuller squad and experience will be the trump card for ManUtd to finally reveal on the gambling table and take all the chips at stake.

ManUtd to beat the ½-ball handicap and make it to the 2nd round for the 10th consecutive year.

Disclaimer: The above views are purely my own two-cents' worth. In other words, I cannot and will not guarantee that my predictions are accurate. If you want to bet on the game, do so at your own risk. Also, please bet responsibly and within your means regardless of how "sure thing" that game may appear to be. As the old saying goes, "The Ball Is Round". Good luck.


At 10:16 PM, December 07, 2005, Blogger Zhe Bin said...

Man Utd will surely win this man. Anyway, a draw between Lille and Villareal will see Man Utd going through already.

At 10:45 PM, December 07, 2005, Blogger Merenwen said...

1/2 ball handicap only? Take Man U for a win man!

At 6:10 AM, December 08, 2005, Blogger Zhe Bin said...

Well guess what, the way they played made me squeeze my balls so hard to humour myself. I felt so much anguish! Why they played like that?! And Scholes couldn't even do a sitter properly. Zzz.

I hope they show results in the EPL. Grr.

I think I'm angry because I care. Because I is angry I is going to sleep now.


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