Can the drama of Tuesday’s Barca-fest be captured here on Wednesday.
First, in what today can be considered a junior competition, Everton faces of with Birmingham in the Barclays Premiership. Birmingham is steaming having dropped only one game since they got thrashed by Manchester United, 5-0, back in late January.
A tough challenge here at Goodison for the Toffees as captain Phil Neville is out, as are central middies Tim Cahill and Fellaini (out for the rest of the campaign). Jack Rodwell will need to step and play big for Tim Howard’s friends to hold serve at home.
In the undercard–as we sit–it’s Schalke vs. Valencia in Bavaria. Unfortunately, the story here is still the cliched Raul vs. the Spanish as the graying forward has been putting it together for the up-and-down Schalke side.
Meanwhile, Valencia has been rocketing through La Liga play with a recent 1-0 loss to Barca the only blemish on their record over the last three weeks.
With Schalke tenuously clinging to a slight away goal advantage in a 1-1 draw a few weeks ago in Spain, and Valencia welcoming back both David Albelda and Joaquin, the Germans are going to have to muster every bit of collective pride to take down Valencia even though they’re home.
Do they care to not see their coach Felix McGrath in the papers for the wrong reason Thursday?
And the marquee match-up: Milan vs. Tottenham.
Oh what festivities await. Easy to argue that both Gareth Bale and Spurs have been better–and perhaps the most entertaining team not from Catalan–in the Champion’s League.
A slug-it-out, drag-it-down affair last time, saw Mathieu Flamini two-foot Vedran Corluka putting him out of commission for a short lunar cycle (and draw the ire of The Shin Guardian).
An odd strategy by Milan, trying to make it an ugly match at home, and it didn’t work as the San Siro saw Spurs leave as victors. Since then, the Rossoneri have been surging and they’ll need to fire on the road to move on.
As for the Londoners, they’ll likely continue with the same game plan albeit with different pieces. Last time out, Tottenham played through Aaron Lennon who, like a boxer repeatedly shooting jabs at the side of his opponent, continually flummoxed of Luca Antonini on the Spurs’ right flank. Lennon’s play pushed Milan back and ultimately decided the game.
This time, the Spurs add visionary Rafael Van Der Vaart to the attack and, if Bale’s back healthy, you have to like the home sides chances of spreading the field even further and finding their way through, despite a sub-standard striking ability. (Yes, Jermain Defoe had two goals against Wolverhampton this past weekend, but he missed a few sitters that could have earned the victory away.)
It will be interesting to see how Milan counter in the absence of Gennaro Guttuso, suspended quite frankly for being an idiot, and needing to attack. You’ll likely see Pato introduced as he and Robinho try to catch the Spurs on a counter when they give up possession on the flanks.
The one to watch, even though TSG expects Spurs to prevail.
By the way, Spurs fans, why isn’t Roman Pavlyuchenko either a star or more favored by Harry Rednapp? He’s got the game “just missed” complex, as the rest of the Spurs’ strikers, but his first touch to open up his shooting foot might be the best, or near the best, in the Premiership.