Nov 27, 2007

Inter, Roma, Barca, Seville Join English Teams In Champs League Round Of 16

Solid performances by Inter Milan, AS Roma, Barcelona and Sevilla saw the four teams through to the round of 16 on the penultimate match day of UEFA Champions League group play. Meanwhile, Rangers blew a chance to clinch passage to the next round by losing at Stuttgart, who had absolutely nothing but their pride to play for. Walter Smith's side now host Lyon in a winner-take-all game at Ibrox Dec. 12. The good news for Rangers fans is they will advance if the game ends in a tie, by virtue holding the tie-breaker after beating Lyon in their first meeting.

Today's Barca-Lyon game was a good one, as expected. I was able to watch follow all most parts of it on the Internet and thought Lyon had a lot of fight and put on a solid showing. Juninho and goalkeeper Rémy Vercoutre impressed me in the little that I saw of the game (I didn't catch any of the goals). Lyon came back from goals down twice and it felt like the tie was a fair result.

I don't know what happened to Rangers other than what I read, which is that they lost 3-2 on an 85th minute goal by Romanian international Ciprian Marica. Sounds like the type of game that a round-of-16 champions league side should not be losing. If they had to play the early round games now, maybe Rangers wouldn't take as many points as they did. But that's all meaningless speculation at this point. If they don't lose the finale, Rangers are through. If they do lose, they play in the UEFA Cup. There are worse things.

Arsenal lost their first game of the season, succumbing to Sevilla in a weak effort. In fairness, Arse had already qualified and rested a few starters. The result finalizes what we had long suspected, that Slavia Prague and Steaua Bucharest would not make it out of this group.

Inter Milan made quick work of Fenerbahce Istanbul. No surprise there either. Fenerbahce will now fight it out with PSV Eindhoven to advance as the second team out of that group. There's a good chance they'll make it as PSV host Inter on the final match day with Fenerbahce facing lackluster CSKA Moscow.

Man U and Roma both won, meaning their meeting on the final matchday will thankfully be completely meaningless. Everything is settled in that group; Man U will finish first, Roma second, Sporting Lisbon third and Dynamo Kiev fourth. The Ukrainian side have lost every single one of their Champions League games--the only team to have done so.

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