Barcelona beat Milan 3-1 in yet another controversial Camp Nou Champions League result, while Bayern finished off Olympique Marseille with another 2-0 victory, for an aggregate score of 4-0.
Wednesday, April 4 (both kickoffs at 2:45pmET):
Chelsea vs Benfica: The match to watch on Wednesday. Chelsea pulled out a 1-0 victory at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon last week–continuing a remarkable turnaround from when they were down 3-1 after the first leg in Napoli in the Round of 16. We’ll be rooting for the Portuguese.
Well, turns out there aren’ aren’t many actual Portuguese in Benfica’s squad. For instance, Ben Shave‘s list of 5 Benfica players to watch, published prior to the 1st leg, consisted of a Brazilian (goalkeeper Artur), a Uruguayan (defender Maxi Pereira), a Spaniard (holding midfielder Javi Garcia), an Argentine (aging semi-legendary playmaker Pablo Aimar), and a Paraguayan (striker Oscar Cardozo). You can add to that list two more young Benfica players we’ve been hearing a lot about: Argentine Nicolás Gaitán and afro’ed Belgian Axel Witsel (attacking midfielders both).
And on the other side of the ball, Chelsea’s Brazilian duo of David Luiz and Ramires both started their European club careers with Benfica (whereas Chelsea’s Portuguese players–Raul Meireles, Jose Boswinga, Paulo Ferreira–broke thru domestically with Porto. Not a coincidence, as all three played under Jose Mourinho at Benfica’s northern archrival before eventually following him to Stamford Bridge.)
Listen to CNN’s Pedro Pinto sitting in on this week’s Guardian Football Weekly podcast for more on this depressing aspect of Portuguese football. In fact, listen to the whole thing–includes a preview of this match, and then at the end Sid Lowe and the rest of the pod also previewing Barcelona-Milan.
Real Madrid vs APOEL: If Bayern-OM is medium-well, this one is completely well-done. Madrid won 3-0 in Cyprus. Only reason to watch this one is to see some of the talent that’s been wasting away on Mourinho’s bench all season–players like last year’s Bundesliga player of the season Nuri Şahin, who finally got a start in the 1st leg.
(It’s a shame Sahin didn’t stay with Borussia Dortmund. We’ve been seeing reports that Madrid (Morinho?) don’t think he’s made the transition–maybe we can hope for a loan back to Dortmund next season? Dortmund’s chief has called the transfer a mistake (on Sahin’s part?), but seems to be ruling out a return.)