Dec 22, 2007

Fearless Forecast: UEFA Champions League Round Of 16

It's time for the first-ever Soccer Source Fearless Forecast, as we zero in on the just-drawn UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match-ups. Our main guide will be the Top 25 ranking of soccer clubs, a season-long work-in-progress that attempts to gauge the standings of the best club teams in the world. The assumption here is that the Top 25 ranking--due to its superior use of data-mining and keen insight--is roughly accurate and as such a reliable prognosticator. A flawed assumption? You bet, but so too are all forecasts as well as all assumptions (remember that when you ASSume you make an ass out of you and me). Onward:

Schalke (ranked 23 at time of this writing) vs. Porto (6)
The German side just made their debut on the list, and to much contention at that. Readers made some excellent points as to why the Gelsenkircheners don't belong. Their issues will be addressed in Monday's Top 25 but for now the point is that Schalke look far inferior to their Portuguese opponents. Forecast: Porto takes it without problems.

Roma (8) vs. Real Madrid (2)
This one looks a bit closer to call. Real have spent most of the season in the top 5 but Roma have played well and are second in Serie A behind mighty Inter. Potentially the most entertaining match-up as Roma play an energetic, attacking (and I might add, un-Italian) style and Real have quite a bit of their own firepower (to put it mildly). This one will be fun. Who will win? Probably Real, but like I said the margin for error is not very wide at all.

Olympiakos (9) vs. Chelsea (7)
Another match-up featuring top 10 teams. As far as I can tell, this one hinges on who Chelsea have at their disposal when the sides meet Feb. 19. Drogba? Essien? Terry? If the answers are yes, yes and yes, then figure Chelsea to advance. But Olympiakos are tough and have shown they can play with anybody--even a fully-staffed Chelsea side. Forecast: Too close to call right now.

Liverpool (14) vs. Inter Milan (1)
Rafa Benitez' team (if it will in fact still be his team when these two sides take the field) have no chance unless they make substantial acquisitions in the January transfer window. Even then they probably don't have much of a chance, unless Inter suddenly lose their entire team to injuries or something. Right now I can't see how the Reds an even keep pace. Figure their run of CL successes to be reaching its end. Forecast: Inter, easily.

Celtic (unranked) vs. Barcelona (5)
Gordon Strachan's team has suddenly hit a poor run of form. Even if they get it together by the time these two teams take the field they won't have much of a chance. Barca simply has too much firepower--even if Jar Jar leaves Camp Nou in the January transfer window. Forecast: Barca.

Lyon (12) vs. Man. Utd (4)
Sir Alex' men are playing better than any Premiership side right now and would be leading the table if it weren't for a lousy first week to the season. Lyon, while not unimpressive, have not displayed any of the brilliance of recent years. Now they're due to lose Karim Benzema to boot (if a team is willing to cough up the $40 million Lyon is demanding). Forecast: Man U should win this one.

Fenerbahce (17) vs. Seville (unranked)
Sevilla have had a traumatic season already, with the Antonio Puerta tragedy and Juande Ramos' defection to White Hart Lane. This might be the chance they need to pull it out. Fenerbahce are higher-ranked now and as such are viewed as favorites but I have a feeling things will be different when the two teams take the field. Forecast: To close to call.

Arsenal (3) vs. AC Milan (11)
AC Milan have not yet hit their stride, while Arsene Wenger's side appear to be firing on all cylinders. Milan will put up a good fight, but the way things look today, Gunners are simply too strong even for then. Then again, if Milan manage to frazzle Wenger's young team in the first leg at Emirates, things could potentially come very different. But I can't go against a team that has had a consistent stop in the top five. Forecast: Arsenal to take it.


  1. To be honest you are giving arsenal too much credit. Man-U will be the only surviving team. How can Fener vs. Seville be too close to call? Seville beat Arsenal easily remember? Liverpool would have a closer game against Inter than you think, and Real will have their way with Roma.

  2. A small child can pick all of the favorites to win...

    Barca goes down at parkhead to Celtic, can't make it up at the camp.