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Barcelona looks to avoid upset
by Paul Kennedy, February 22nd, 2010 11:54PM

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TAGS:  england, france, germany, greece, italy, spain, uefa champions league

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[PREDICTIONS] Can defending champion Barcelona avoid an upset at red-hot Stuttgart? Visiting Bordeaux and Sevilla appear to have the edge against Olympiakos and CSKA Moscow, respectively. The big match in the second set of first legs in the UEFA Champions League's round of 16 again takes at the San Siro. Last week it was David Beckham and AC Milan hosting his old team, Manchester United. This week, it's Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan welcoming Chelsea, the team he used to manage.

Tuesday, Feb. 23
VfB Stuttgart vs. Barcelona
(TV: Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports en Espanol, live 2:30 p.m ET; Fox Soccer Channel, delay, 5 p.m.)

Quotable:
“If you analyze the results, you will see that in the last few years a number of champions such as Liverpool and AC Milan have gone out at this stage in the following year. It’s one of the most difficult [series] in the competition. Only Manchester United has survived in the last few years.” -- Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

Prediction: Tie 1-1. After a slow start, Stuttgart has won seven of eight games under Coach Christian Gross.

Tuesday, Feb. 23
Olympiakos vs. Bordeaux
(TV: Fox Soccer Channel, 2:30 p.m.; Fox Sports en Espanol, Setanta Sports USA, 5 p.m. ET)

Quotable: "We were happy with the draw because we feared meeting a bigger club, but the Olympiakos players, coaches and fans said the same thing when they got Bordeaux. Both teams have just as much chance to qualify." -- Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc.

Prediction: Bordeaux 1-0. The defending French champions have struggled in Ligue 1 in recent weeks, but they have been almost perfect in the Champions League. Bozidar Bantovic is Olympiakos' fourth coach in nine months.

Wednesday, Feb. 24
Inter Milan vs. Chelsea
(TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol live, 2:30 p.m.; Setanta Sports USA, delay, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Quotable: "I have not spoken to Jose since he left. It will be nice to see him again and shake his hand. But we cannot think about the past, only the future. And the future for Chelsea is to beat Inter Milan and go through to the quarterfinals.'' -- Chelsea manager Petr Cech on Jose Mourinho, the Inter Milan coach who claims to know Chelsea's strengths and weaknesses because he signed most of its players when he was its manager.

Prediction: Tie, 1-1. Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar was involved in a car accident on the way to training on Monday but should be fit for Wednesday's game.

Wednesday, Feb. 24
CSKA Moscow vs. Sevilla
(TV: Setanta Sports USA, live: 12:15 p.m. ET; Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol live, 2:30 p.m.; )
"It would be a big mistake to think the Spaniards would just fall over on the slippery surface and give us a clean path to their goal. As far as the cold, both teams will be on equal terms. We must also have to get used to the cold after spending the last several weeks training in Spain and Turkey." -- CSKA defender Vasily Berezutsky on the wintery conditions. (Almost 20 inches have fallen in recent weeks.)

Prediction: Sevilla, 2-0. CSKA hasn't played a competitive game in more than two months.



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