CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: PALPITANDO LOS CUARTOS

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La Champions League 2015/16 llega a su recta final, y por eso palpitamos cómo serán los cuartos de final.

ATLÉTICO MADRID – BARCELONA: EL CHOQUE MÁS ATRACTIVO

El mejor duelo que tendrán los Octavos de Final, y quizás el más injusto, ya que será un desperdicio que uno de los dos no esté entre los cuatro mejores. Lo cierto es que son dos equipos con estilos muy distintos, pero a ambos les han dado resultados. Barcelona tiene el mejor ataque del mundo, y Atlético, la mejor defensa. Ambos equipos han protagonizado choques electrizantes, ya sea en Liga BBVA, Copa del Rey o en la misma Champions League, donde el antecedente más reciente favorece a los del Cholo, que eliminó al conjunto catalán cuando éste era dirigido por Gerardo Martino, en la Champions 2013/14. No obstante, las cosas han cambiado desde aquel choque, y hoy por hoy los de Luis Enrique son el último campeón y tienen a la MSN, que parece imparable. Por su parte, Simeone tiene un plantel con mucho talento pero algo de inexperiencia en cruces de tanta jerarquía. Además, la ausencia de un centrodelantero dificulta las vías de ataque. Fernando Torres realizó un gran partido en Octavos, ante PSV, pero jugar ante Barcelona es un reto completamente distinto. De seguro «El Niño» sumará minutos, pero dificilmente lo haga desde el arranque. Este año, ambos equipos de midieron en Camp Nou, y Atlético realizó un gran planteo, presionando en la salida y convirtiendo con participación directa de sus volantes externos, Koke y Saúl. La gran figura colchonera aquel día, fue Yannick Ferreira Carrasco. El belga compartió ataque con Griezmann y con su velocidad complicó a la defensa blaugrana. Atlético fue mejor hasta que apareció Messi y luego llegaron las expulsiones. Barcelona ganó, pero jugó un partido incómodo. Superar a los de Simeone es todo un desgaste emocional, y además, la llave se definirá en el Vicente Calderón. Sólo uno de los dos mejores equipos españoles seguirá en competición.

MANCHESTER CITY – PSG: MILLONES POR IGUAL

A pesar de haber invertido impresionantes sumas para reforzar sus planteles, ninguno de los dos equipos se metió alguna vez entre los cuatro mejores de Europa. Por lo demostrado en la Ligue 1, los parisinos parten como favoritos: ya se consagraron campeones varias fechas antes, y en Octavos de Final mostraron mucha solvencia ante Chelsea: siempre con la intención de ser quien maneje las riendas del partido. Por momentos, Diego Costa dejó en evidencia que la defensa no termina de ser una garantía. Esta vez, la amenaza para los de Paris será Sergio Aguero. El argentino es el jugador estrella del Manchester City. Dirigidos por Manuel Pellegrini, los Citizens han bajado su nivel en relación a años anteriores, tal es así que ya se confirmó para fin de temporada la salida del Chileno para dar lugar al increíble Pep Guardiola. En Octavos de Final, eliminaron al humilde Dinamo de Kiev, y hace unas semanas conquistaron la Capital One Cup. Todo sin brillar ni mostrar un gran juego colectivo, y sin uno de sus mejores jugadores: Kevin De Bruyne. El belga es importantísimo en el ataque y aún trabaja en su recuperación para poder ser de la partida en el ansiado choque. Por otro lado, Yaya Touré parece no ser suficiente para combatir el mediocampo ante equipos de elite, sobre todo en lo que respecta a lo defensivo. En cambio, PSG demuestra buen funcionamiento y tiene en Verrati, Di Maria e Ibrahimovich, jugadores de primer nivel mundial. La serie se definirá en Inglaterra, y uno de los dos se meterá por primera vez en semifinales.

BENFICA – BAYERN MUNICH: FAVORITISMO BÁVARO

Los de Pep Guardiola lograron la remontada ante Juventus, y evitaron así una eliminación en Octavos de Final que hubiera significado una gran desilución por ser la última Champions del DT catalán en Munich. Con la Bundesliga casi definida a su favor, Bayern Munich pone toda su atención en volver a conquistar ‘la orejona’. Cuenta, al día de hoy, con la mayoría de su plantel a disposición. El once inicial varía mucho según los momentos individuales y las características del rival, pero hoy por hoy hay jugadores de campo que parecen irremplazables: Arturo Vidal, Douglas Costa y Robert Lewandowski. El chileno es el motor del mediocampo y ante Juventus, demostró que puede ser el único volante central. Xabi Alonso y Thiago Alcantara son otras de las opciones. Por su parte, Douglas Costa es el mejor revulsivo: rompe defensas por las bandas a pura velocidad, y en los últimos tiempos le ha agregado mucho criterio para ir hacia el centro. Ribery, Robben y el joven Kingsley Coman, cada vez con más lugar producto de sus buenas actuaciones. Otro jugador clave es Thomas Muller, de flojo rendimiento ante Juventus pero autor del gol que forzó el alargue. Los de Guardiola acostumbraron a un culto de la posesión, pero en el último mes cayeron ante Mainz, empataron 0-0 en un partidazo ante Dortmund y sufrieron hasta el final con Juventus. Será clave lo que puedan hacer Gaitán y Jonás, las cartas ofensivas del equipo portugués. El argentino es el desequilibrante, y el centrodelantero es uno de los más goleadores en toda Europa. Parece dificil que pueda verse a Mitroglou compartiendo el ataque con Jonas: es más factible que para lastimar en contraataque, el entrenador apueste por el mexicano Raúl Jiménez, determinante en el pase a Cuartos. Benfica deberá viajar primero a Munich en busca de un resultado que lo deje con chances para definir en casa, aunque claro, por la calida del Bayern, será dificil evitar que estos marquen también en Portugal.

REAL MADRID – WOLFSBURGO: REINARÁ EL CAOS

La llegada de Zidane no cambió demasiado las cosas. Real Madrid no consigue ser un equipo confiable. Si bien el Bernabéu ha sido testigo de buenas goleadas, la irregularidad llevó a que la diferencia en la Liga sea irremontable. El máximo campeón europeo está hoy en Cuartos porque Cristiano Ronaldo abrió el camino en Roma, y justamente, porque el propio equipo romano falló muchas situaciones en Bernabéu. Se espera que en Cuartos, la BBC se reencuentre tras diversas lesiones. Zidane ha optado por James e Isco, pero estos están lejos de su mejor nivel. Una buena decisión ha sido colocar a Casemiro como volante central para liberar a Modric y Kroos, pero aún no ha alcanza para dejar de depender de un Cristiano que volvió a estar en un nivel formidable. Por su parte, Wolfsburgo es un equipo desordenado para atacar y defender. Juega partidos a un alto ritmo, y tiene en Draxler al jugador diferente, capaz de pensar un segundo más que los demás. El conjunto alemán se ha ganado un respeto en la Bundesliga, y tiene muchas opciones: velocidad en Rodríguez y Vieirinha -a veces extremo- en los laterales. Schurrle, Arnold y Caligiuri, también con bueno juego por banda. En pelota parada es importante lo del central Naldo, que ya ha convertido goles en este certamen. El centrodelantero habitual es Kruse, con más movilidad que una referencia de área como Bas Dost. El dilema está en el mediocampo: el zurdo Arnold es importante a la hora de aportar en ataque, pero esto deja demasiado solo a Guilavogui. Entonces, no sería raro que el entrenador, Kecking, ante un rival de la envergadrua del Real Madrid, opte por colocar a Luiz Gustavo en la mitad de la cancha, resignando así más volumen de juego en pos de mayor orden defensivo. Pero más allá de nombres, será dificil ver al Wolfsburgo proponiendo un ritmo de juego pausado: lo suyo es el ritmo alto, las transiciones rápidas y jugar al límite del error, ya sea propio u del rival. Real Madrid no es un equipo que se sentirá incómodo en aquello. Todo lo contrario, y además, define en el Bernabéu.

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1994. Si no rueda una pelota me siento incompleto. Cuando sea grande diré que vi jugar a Messi. Disfruto de leer y escribir.

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