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August 19, 2011

UEFA Champions League play-offs ready for second leg

The winners from each series will make it into the final 32 teams that compose the group stage, which kicks-off September 13-14.

By Andrew Hill

There are only ten tickets at stake for Europe’s finest football club competition, and none of the 20 teams fighting for one want to be left out. The 2011-12 UEFA Champions League Playoffs began this week with several surprises, such as Villareal’s 1-0 on the road loss against Odense, which just like the rest of squads that are down in the scoreboard will have to come from behind on leg 2 to claim group stage berth. These decisive games will be disputed August 23-24.

German giant Bayern Munich will travel to Zurich with the tranquility of a two-goal lead, thanks to Schweinsteiger’s and Robben’s goals. The hosts were fully in control of a game which they were going to end without setbacks, as they were able to keep a clean sheet.

Despite defeating Udinese at home 1-0 (Walcott) Arsenal left many doubts that night, doubts that will be present next Wednesday at Friuli stadium. Mentally vulnerable after the departure of their captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, and most likely Samir Nasri to Manchester City, the Gunners have serious problems to overcome.

With just six more minutes to go Virrareal suffered the goal that has them against the rope versus Odense. Andreasen scored the winner goal for the home team that could become one of the surprises of the competition if able to defend their lead at Madrigal Stadium next Tuesday.

Arsenal left many doubts.

Stunned 3-1 at home by Viktoria Plzen, Copenhagen will have to row against the tide on Wednesday in the Czech Republic. Kolar, Pilar and Fillo scored for the visitors’ and Ottensen the discount for the hosts that last season reached the knock out stage of the competition.

Lyon did make the best from the home field advantage, and overcame an early goal from Rubin Kazan (Dyadyun at minute 3) with three from Gomis, Kvirkvelia and Briad in the 3-1 win. This two goal lead place the Frenchmen with one foot in the group stage, but they can’t relax for Wednesday’s game at Russia promises to be a very tough one.

An exciting game was lived at the Netherlands between Twente and Benfica, which ended up tied to 2. De Jong gave the visitors the lead early in the game, until Cardozo leveled the score momentarily for The Tukkers, but then Nolito putted things 2-1 for the Portuguese squad, result with which they went to halftime. And with ten minutes to go Ruiz kept Twente’s group stage aspirations alive by scoring the definite 2-2. Next game will be Wednesday.

In other results Dinamo Zagreb took a 4-1 win at home over Malmo, result that allows them to travel to Sweden for Tuesday’s game with their group stage berth pretty much secured. Wisla will have a tough visit to Cyprus, since they defeated APOEL by 1-0. The same goes for Israel’s M. Haifa that will travel with the minimum difference to Belguim, where Genk will try to overcome the 2-1 Leg 1 loss on Tuesday. And on Wednesday BATE and Sturm Graz will be breaking the 1-1 tie with which Leg 1 ended.

The group stage kick-off September 13-14 with the defending champions Barcelona as the team to beat.

About the Author
When it comes to sports, Andrew Hill translates his passion into truthful and objective information of interest for the sports betting industry. As of today he specializes in the coverage of European soccer and NCAA basketball for BetIAS’ website.

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