Champions League may keep Ragsdale lounge area occupied

It is that beautiful time of year, that time of the year when the Ragsdale Center is packed full of people screaming, oohing and ahhing at the television screen above them.

Forgive us for making the walkways congested, but the Champions League is back.

The Champions League is a yearly tournament that looks to crown the best soccer team in Europe. Dozens of teams around the continent vie through round after round of games to play with the rest of the elite teams. 

The competition takes the top teams in a country’s domestic league and pits them against each other, with bragging rights for the victor’s country for having the best team in Europe. The prestige and the money that can be made by taking part in the Champions League encourages teams in major European countries like England and Spain to simply qualify so they can take a piece of the pie.

This year’s Champions League finds itself in the first round of the knockout stages, where teams play two games, one home and one away, and the team with the best aggregate score, the most goals, goes onto the next round. This format continues until the final, where only one match is played in an already-determined hosting site. This year, the final will be held at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

With one match already having taken place, it is a bit easier to gauge which teams will survive and which will go home. Here are my predictions.

Galatasaray vs. Schalke

Galatasaray, Turkey (1-1) Schalke, Germany.

Though Galatarsaray now tout former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba up front, Schalke will manage to pull through this match up. The fact that this will be a home game for the German club makes a big difference too.

Schalke to advance.

Celtic vs. Juventus

Celtic, Scotland (0-3) Juventus, Italy.

Celtic making it into the knockout stages is quite honestly a huge feat for the club considering it had a difficult group. It is not shocking at all to see the gulf in goal differential between the Scottish team and the Old Lady from Italy. Expect a game for pride from Celtic and Juventus to field a weaker team, but one that will ensure their passage to the next round.

Juventus to advance.

Valencia vs. PSG

Valencia, Spain (1-2) Paris Saint-Germain, France. (PSG).

PSG carry two away goals into this second game that is being played in Paris. Though I think Valencia is a fine footballing outfit, I do not think it can stop the force that PSG is becoming. Let us just hope that David Beckham makes the bench for PSG in this one so we can stare.

Paris Saint-Germain to advance.

Porto vs. Málaga

Porto, Portugal (1-0) Málaga, Spain.

The Iberian Peninsula will host perhaps one of the trickiest ties of the round this match. Porto’s one goal lead is too slim for comfort. That is something Málaga will try to exploit as they go on the attack in the second leg. I could see this match up going into penalties.

FC Porto to advance.

Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich

Arsenal, England (1-3) Bayern Munich, Germany.

As an Arsenal fan, it pains me to admit that this tie is virtually over. Bayern Munich is perhaps the strongest team in the entire Champions League and is my favorite to win it all.

Bayern Munich to advance.

FCSD vs. Borussia Dortmund

Shaktar Donetsk, Russia (2-2) Borussia Dortmund, Germany

Like the Porto-Málaga matchup, the FCSD vs. Borussia Dortmund game is sure to provide entertainment. Ultimately, I feel the German club will ride the wave of their supporters in this home match for them.

Borussia Dortmund to advance.

Milan vs. Barcelona

Milan, Italy (2-0) Barcelona, Spain

The first leg of this matchup was just an absolute shocker. Milan will be accused of parking the bus (playing defensively) and taking advantage of dubious calls from the referee, but the fact is that now they will have Barcelona only attacking, meaning that a quick counterattack is all it could take to deliver a blow to the mighty Spanish team.

AC Milan to advance.

Real Madrid vs. Man UTD

Real Madrid, Spain (1-1) Manchester United, England.

This is the game of the entire round. All honors were even in the first leg, but this second leg at Old Trafford promises to serve as a throwback to a decade ago when Ronaldo and Zidane faced up against Beckham and Giggs. Ten years later, Giggs is somehow still around, and a new, more beautiful Ronaldo takes the place of the old.

It is so difficult to call it, but …

Real Madrid to advance.