Some Thoughts on the Quarterfinal Draw

By on March 18, 2010

So I figured I would just throw out some brief thoughts on each of the seven teams that Arsenal could possibly draw tomorrow morning for the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals.

Bordeaux – I think alot of us know a little bit about Bordeaux. At the very least, we know about their leading striker, Marouane Chamakh (33 APP, 11 G) being out–of contract and expecting a move this summer, likely to the Emirates. Bordeaux are sitting top of Ligue 1 on goal differential ahead of Montpelier. But they also have the still-young Yohan Gourcuff (30 APP, 7 G, 7 A) in their midfield, whom the club thought enough of to make his loan from InterMilan permanent over the summer.  Despite getting past Olympiakos, Bordeaux have won only one of their last six league matches. Obviously, either of the French sides would be a good draw for us. That is a “good” draw, not necessarily an “easy” draw.

Bayern Munich – I’ll admit that I don’t watch much Bundesliga though it is shown every weekend here, mostly Bayern and Wolfsburg. Bayern are involved in a relatively tight 3-way race for the title. However, they have failed to win their last two away matches against relegation fodder. They also needed two set piece goals from Robben to get past lowly Freiburg. Bayern could prove to be a tricky draw as they are undefeated at home in the Bundesliga this season.

Inter Milan – We all saw what Inter is capable of over their two legs with Chelsea. They out-Chelsea’d Chelsea, effectively. Arsenal have not fared well in recent years against the type of efficiency which Inter displayed over the two legs. They sat back and soaked up Chelsea’s possession and pressure and chose their counterattacks well. That kind of football could play right in to our weakness in transitioning from attack to defense as we saw in the Chelsea and United matches. We don’t deal well with counterattacks and that would surely be Inter’s plan for both legs. I’d like to avoid them if possible though I think we are the better side and could get past them.

CSKA Moscow – Honestly, I haven’t seen one domestic Russian match all season. Russian teams seem to be a bit hampered by the fact that their season runs from March to November but they do always have their location on their side. No team involved in a title-run in wants to have to make the journey to Russia in mid-week. Though, it would be among the easier draws based solely on the competition, there could be far more collateral damage in fatigue and injuries than is worth such an easier draw. Let’s hope United draw them.

Lyon – Lyon find themselves on the bottom of a six-team race for the Ligue 1 title. They currently sit 5th but only two points off leaders, Bordeaux. In contrast with their epic result at the Bernabeu, they are coming off two disappointing draws with 17th-placed, St. Etiennes, and 19th-placed Boulougne in the leauge. As I said above, either Lyon or Bordeaux are attractive draws for us both because of quality and proximity.

Barcelona – Do I even need to say anything? The way I look at it is: I want Barcelona, but not yet. It’s hard to consider who would be more satisfying to beat in the Final, Barca or United. As for Barca, anything can happen over two legs and a result at the Nou Camp or even just progressing past them could give our growing confidence that final push towards the league. Meeting Barcelona wouldn’t be a “clash of styles” as much as it would be “a clash of style.” I think most neutrals would like to see this match-up regardless of the stage of the competition.

Manchester United – And finally, United… do you want to face them now? I don’t, particularly. Not out of fear, but out of pragmatism. Arsenal have not fared as well in Europe against domestic opponents as they have against foreign opposition in recent years. That said, facing United in the Champions League is the last possibility we will have this season of exorcising this season’s top 3 demons. A victory over United in the QF or SF stage would only prove to all the doubters who feel Arsenal will only win the league because United or Chelsea will throw it away that Arsenal are for real.

So, there you have it… I’d like to stay away from United, Barca, and CSKA in the Quarterfinals, at least. Bayern Munich and Inter Milan provide tricky draws while the two French sides offer the best draws. Either way, we’ll know tomorrow by noon London time. Of course, that is just my opinion and I’d like to hear what you guys think are favorable or unfavorable draws.