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On this week’s main listening report we look at the 2012-13 Champions League knock-out stage. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the post for those who wish to practice their English.
The 2012-13 Champions League knock-out stage starts next week with 16 teams battling it out to try and reach the final that takes place on 25th May at Wembley Stadium. The two-legged ties promise to be mouth-watering affairs and so on this week’s main football report the languagecaster team looks ahead to some top European club action.
Manchester United – Real Madrid
Undoubtedly the pick of the round as the nine-time winners Madrid face three-time winners United for the first time since 2003. The tie sees the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford for the first time since his world-record transfer move to the Bernabeu in 2009, while it may also give United a glimpse of their future manager in action – in Jose Mourinho. When the draw was made back in December many people would have put Madrid as clear favourites but since then the Red Devils’ form has been impressive as they race away with the English Premier League, while Madrid have fallen even further behind their rivals Barcelona in La Liga. Mourinho has been under increasing pressure and there are rumours that if Madrid fail to reach the last eight then he may be looking for a job sooner rather than later. Home advantage in the second leg could be crucial for Madrid but I have a sneaking suspicion that United will make it through.
AC Milan – Barcelona
Another battle of European heavyweights as five-time winners Milan host Barcelona in the first leg next week. Milan are a team in transition, while Barcelona are favourites not only to qualify from this tie but to win the trophy outright. Much will depend on how Milan approach the game but with Barcelona at full strength they will have their work cut out to knock out Messi and co. A Catalan win.
Arsenal – Bayern Munich
Beaten finalists last season Bayern will be hoping to exact some revenge on a London team by defeating Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. Two months ago most would have bet on that happening but although Bayern have continued with their impressive form and are a stronger side than last year, Arsenal have also improved with the return from injury of Wilshere and Walcott’s return to form. Former Bayern star Podolski will also want to shine against his former club but I feel it will still not be enough to get them through. Bayern to progress.
Shakhtar Donetsk – Borussia Dortmund
The battle of the dark horses as both sides look to continue with their impressive group stage performances. Donetsk have dominated Ukrainian football for the past few years with a team that has more or less stayed together throughout and now they are hoping to make their mark in Europe. They will face another side in Dortmund who have been in impressive domestic form with the past two Bundesliga titles under their belt. The German side came through a group that included Ajax, Man City and Real Madrid and are many people’s tips to go on and win the competition. They should make it through at least to the last eight.
Valencia – Paris Saint Germain
The Spanish side have had a poor season and are currently in mid-table in La Liga but they will be focusing on Europe as a way of pleasing their fans and raising money for the financially-strapped club. They will find it difficult against a side that has no financial worries at all and include such stars as Pastore, Lavezzi and, of course, Ibrahimovic who already has 20 goals for Ligue 1 leaders PSG. An easy French win here.
FC Porto – Malaga
As a fan of Malaga for many years this season has been a fairy tale for the boquerones as they marched through their first ever Champions League group with ease. Can they continue this form against an experienced Porto side who have tasted glory in this competiton on two occasions and although they will probably not win the trophy for a third time they should dispatch the Spanish side to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Celtic – Juventus
A tie involving a clear underdog taking on one of the aristocrats of European football. However, Celtic have not only won the European Cup before they have also managed to beat Barcelona in Glasgow in the knock-out stages this season. Can they repeat this feat against Serie A leaders who have started to wobble in recent weeks? Unfortunately for Scottish football fans I fear not as Pirlo, Isla and Buffon will have too much for them.
Galatasaray – FC Schalke
Two months ago few would have given Turkish side Galatasaray much hope against a Schalke side that was on fire in Germany but since then Schalke have been in a slump and Gala have signed Dutch captain Wesley Sneijder from Inter and Didier Drogba from an unhappy spell in Chinese football. Suddenly everyone is sitting up and taking notice of the Turkish side who look as if they have enough big-game players to qualify and possibly cause an upset in future rounds.
battling it out: Trying to win
mouth-watering affairs: Fans are really looking forward to the games
the Red Devils’: The nickname of Manchester United
the last eight: The quarter-final
heavyweights: Powerhouses, traditional strong sides
in transition: In the middle of change
they will have their work cut out: Have to work very hard to beat them
Messi and co: Messi and company (the rest of the Barcelona team)
to exact some revenge on: To exact here means to carry out / to have
bet on: To tip, to pick, to put money on
to shine: To play well
to make their mark: To be noticed
under their belt: In their possession
the financially-strapped club: They do not have a lot of money, almost bankrupt
boquerones : The nickname of Malaga (a local fish like an anchovy)
dispatch: Knock out, defeat
this feat: Performance
to wobble: To not play as well; to shake
have too much for: Will be too good
have been in a slump: Not playing well at all
an unhappy spell: An unhappy time