Thursday, 19 March 2009

Aalborg preview

This is the biggest game of our season to date. We are a competent ninety minutes away from our first cup quarter final since that defeat to Mark Hughes' Blackburn in March 2007. The remaining teams will present a difficult challenge - Marseille, Hamburg, CSKA Moscow are all probably better than us - but nothing insuperable. It is quite fair that we should be 4/1 favourites with most bookmakers.

There are few likely scenarios under which we don't make the last eight. All wins and all draws send us through. As does a 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, 3-1 or 4-2 defeat. If we score AaB need four. And for reasons I can't quite fathom, our away form in Europe has been very strong this season. There was the 2-2 draw in Copenhagen, the 2-0 win in Gelsenkirchen, the 2-1 win in Cyprus and the 2-0 win in the Faeroe Islands. The 3-1 defeat in Santander, while disappointing, came after we'd assured our progression. Our worst performance was actually in our most dramatic victory - the 1-0 win in Midtjylland which led to our penalty triumph. So as long as we keep our nerve we should be fine.

The team will presumably be the same from the home leg, unless Vincent Kompany manages to pass a late fitness test:

If he does he should come in for Elano.

It's a shame not to have Craig Bellamy, but given that the onus will be on Aalborg to come at us, I'm sure Wright-Phillips and Robinho will have enough to catch them on the break. So I'm going to be bold and go for a 2-1 win on the night.

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