UEFA Champions League: A look ahead to Barcelona-AC Milan and Galatasaray-Schalke

FC Barcelona may be the heavy favorite in today’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash with AC Milan, but it might be a mistake to count out the Italians.

Yes, Barcelona is riding impressive form, and Milan won’t have cup-tied Mario Balotelli in their squad, and could be without injured star Stephan El Shaarawy, but the storied club still has enough quality to make things difficult for the Spanish giants.

This rematch of last year’s quarterfinal match-up (won by Barcelona) kicks off in Milan today, with Barcelona running away with the Spanish Primera Division and entering with plenty of confidence under interim manager Jordi Roura. If there is a chink in the armor it is the fact that Barcelona has been conceding goals with regularity in recent weeks. That’s something Milan will look to exploit.

The day’s other match has its share of stars as well, with two previous Champions League winners coming together to try and lead an unexpected contender. Galatasaray will show off new signings Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba in Round of 16 action against Schalke 04, and today’s match will mark Drogba’s first Champions League action since scoring the decisive penalty kick to help Chelsea win the title a year ago.

Schalke will be considered underdogs, and injuries and recent struggles make that label reasonable, but with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar expected back, and Jefferson Farfan and Michel Bastos in the attack, the Germans will have a chance against the Turkish giants. Schalke also features the lone U.S. national team player in the Champions League, midfielder Jermaine Jones.

Here is a closer look at today’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matches:

BARCELONA vs. AC MILAN

2:45pm, Fox Soccer Channel

Players to Watch: BARCELONA- Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Carles Puyol. AC MILAN- Stephan El Shaarawy, Giampaolo Pazzini, Kevin Prince-Boateng, Mbaye Niang.

Quick Kicks: These teams met in last year’s Champions League quarterfinals, with Barcelona taking the series. Pazzini has recovered from a thigh injury for Milan, but El Sharaawy is still a question mark. If he can’t go them Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri might turn to Robinho. Mario Balotelli is cup-tied to Manchester City and therefore ineligible for this series. Xavi is back from a torn hamstring for Barcelona, but may not  be ready to start. Adriano suffered a hamstring injury last weekend and will miss the match. David Villa is still dealing with kidney issues that forced him to be hospitalized temporarily.

GALATASARAY vs. SCHALKE 04

2:45pm, MSG+, Fox Soccer Plus

Players to Watch: GALATASARAY- Wesley Snjeider, Didier Drogba, Umut Bulit, Hamit Altintop.  SCHALKE 04- Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jefferson Farfan, Jermaine Jones,  Michel Bastos.

Quick Kicks: Gala are without Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi, who is sidelined by a knee injury. Drogba only recently joined the team and is a question mark for the starting lineup. Schalke is dealing with a bunch of injuries, with Atsuto Uchida, Ibrahim Afellay, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Ciprian Marica, Christoph Moritz and Lars Unnerstall all slated to miss today’s match.

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11 Responses to UEFA Champions League: A look ahead to Barcelona-AC Milan and Galatasaray-Schalke

  1. elgringorico says:

    “Mario Balotelli is cup-tied to Manchester City and therefore ineligible for this series.”

    Does that mean he could technically play for Man City? No? Dumb question?

    • elgringorico says:

      To clarify — I know MC is out, but if they weren’t could he play for them?

      • Waterlewd says:

        No, Balotelli’s player registration is now held by Milan. He can’t play for two clubs. Is that what you’re asking?

        • elgringorico says:

          Yeah probably. I was just wondering if there was some wild and crazy loophole that would let him play for two teams! I know it sounds dumb but I’ve seen/heard of dumber things. Thanks

  2. Incaroca says:

    I am really hoping for AC Milan to give Barcelona a Great game, maybe even win. Or the other game, Farfan could be the key for Schalke if he can win his match up on the right side.

  3. malkin says:

    Jermaine Jones is listed as one of four defenders. Is this a first? Possibility for USMNT??? (I know, insert yellow card comment here)

  4. MikeG says:

    Jones is in midfield. I am interested in watching him in both halves of the field and see how he combines passes in both halves.

  5. biff says:

    I was reading about Turk Telekom Arena, Galatasaray’s home stadium…

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    and see that it is operated by none other than Anschutz Entertainment Group–better known by LA Galaxy fans as AEG. Makes the Drogba move to Galatasaray very interesting for what might come after.

    Also, the Arena has the world record for loudest fan cheering at a soccer match: 131.76 decibels on March 18, 2011.

    Go Jermaine Jones. Make us proud.

  6. Waterlewd says:


    Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players

    See Article 5.2 prohibition for playing for two clubs.

    However, the restriction on playing for Milan in the Champions League is a rule made by the competition. There are some exceptions, but only before the group stages begin. Once the group stage begins, a player cannot play in the Champions League or Europe League for more than one club.

    See section XI in link: UEFA Champions League Rules

    That should about cover it.