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Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Pre Match Prediction

Still sticking with Liverpool eliminates Real in the second leg with a goalless or 1-1 draw.
Keys: Will Arbeloa be available at right back. If so, then they will have Mascherano and Xabi to playing holding – maybe even bring in Lucas – with Gerrard, Kuyt and Babel or Ngog. Torres off the bench if required. Real are going to have be patient else they will be two goals down overall with Liverpool hitting them on the counter. Best best for a first half goal is off a set piece. Get Mascherano on a yellow early and it will reduce his aggression which is key to getting a foothold in midfield. Also, can Liverpool handle Robben on the wing? I think they will as they will double up with a midfielder and the left back (probably Aurelio) on Robben.
Potential surprise matchwinner: Out of favor Van der Vaart or Schneider.
Observation: For an English team vs a Spanish team, there sure are a lot of Spaniards on the English team and more Dutch players on the combined squads than any other contingent.

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Group of Death – Day 1 Predictions. France vs Romania and Netherlands vs Italy

With the injuries mounting on both sides – Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and Ryan Babel out for the Dutch and Cannavaro and possibly Panucci out for Italy – it’s going to be interesting to see if the Dutch can score and if the Italians can defend! I think it will be a bit of both but the Italians should normally score more than the Dutch if the two wingers (Babel and Robben) are out. However, since this is the first game in the group, I predict a scoring draw. Should be fun to see if Ruud van Nistelrooy and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar start up front for the Dutch and Toni and del Piero on the other side. I prefer the Italian midfield with Pirlo, De Rossi and Gattuso to Van der Vaart and Sneijder.

France will benefit from Vieira being out as it will get Ribery more of the ball. Benzema is going to clean up with Ribery and Henry (or Anelka or Gomis or Gouvou if Henry is injured) playing with him up front.  Looking forward to seeing Nasri out there at some point.  France wins.

With all the injuries, I may have to change my initial prediction on who comes out of the group. If Van Persie and Robben don’t come back by game 2, Italy and France could move on. Don’t count Romania out (Mutu is still the man at Fiorentina), but I just don’t think they will be able to surprise anyone in the group as every point counts. I’ll stick with the Dutch and French for now.

Monday, June 9, 2008
Time Home Away STAGE TV VENUE
12:00 ET Romania 1 v 2 France Group C Letzigrund Stadium
14:45 ET Netherlands 1 v 1 Italy Group C Stade de Suisse Wankdorf

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