Dec 11, 2007

Champs League Roundup: Liverpool Routs Marseille To Advance

Liverpool pulled out an impressive victory at Marseille's Stade Velodrome tonight, beating down their hosts by a four goal margin to advance to the Champions League Round of 16. Steven Gerrard put in his own penalty kick rebound four minutes into the game and Marseille never recovered. Four different Reds scored in all as Rafa Benitez' side proved they belong among the final 16. The victory completes an impressive turnaround for Liverpool, who appeared in dire straights after losing their third match day game at Besiktas Istanbul. Stevie G and friends cranked out three straight victories after that, by a total goal difference of 16:1.

No major surprises to report in the three other games of meaning that were played today; Porto, Schalke, Real Madrid and Olympiakos all won at home to advance. I am spared the embarrassment of having one of my Top 10 teams bow out (that would be #2 Real, #7 Porto or #10 Olympiakos, in case you're scoring at home). On the other hand, it may be time to make room for Schalke. We'll see. Another topic for another day.

So who will Liverpool play in the next round? Second-placed finishers will be drawn with a first-placed team outside of its own country (and which it did not face in group play). That rules out Chelsea and Man United and Porto. The other definite first-placed teams are Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan or Sevilla (unless they lose at Slavia Prague tomorrow and Arsenal beats Steaua Bucharest at Emirates. Not very likely). If Reds draw Inter they can forget about advancing to the quarterfinals. Roberto Mancini's team are simply too good right now. Barca and Real have been a bit shifty but I don't think Liverpool have much of a chance against them either. AC Milan and especially Sevilla are significantly easier.

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