Was Fergie too overconfident about Man U?

Martin Rogers
Yahoo! Sports


1. Barcelona. That midseason slump is now forgotten and this talented squad looks hungry to go all the way.

2. Chelsea. Guus Hiddink has worked his magic to get the team into top form – just at the right time.

3. Arsenal. The Gunners keep quietly chugging along and must like their chances of reaching the semis.

4. Manchester United. The defending champion has made life hard for itself with a woeful first-leg performance.

5. Porto. Spirited and determined, the Portuguese underdog can complete a huge shock if it knocks off United.

6. Villarreal. Getting a result away to Arsenal will be a big challenge, but Villarreal still has a fighting chance.

7. Liverpool. Soul-destroying home collapse to Chelsea looks to have robbed the Anfield club of its Champions League dream.

8. Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga power is dead and buried after being humiliated by Barca at the Camp Nou, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is on the chopping block.

Complacency is not a word usually associated with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps the most meticulous and ruthless coach soccer has ever seen.

Yet there is no other way to describe the surprising decision he made to have his team play twice in three days this week.

Ferguson could have switched last Sunday's English Premier League clash against Aston Villa to Saturday, giving his players an extra 24 hours to recover before their UEFA Champions League meeting with Porto.

Instead, Ferguson allowed the game to go ahead as planned, and his squad looked tired and jaded in Wednesday's 2-2 draw against Porto. The Portuguese side does not have a squad as deep as most others left in the tournament, but it stunned United with a lively and courageous effort at Old Trafford.

The most logical explanation for Ferguson leaving the schedule as it was is that he didn't think it would matter. He thought United would be too good for Porto, and it should have been. But now Ferguson must take his group to the Dragao Stadium staring at an embarrassing exit from the Champions League.

Ferguson hasn't made many missteps this season. However, if Porto takes care of business at home, the coach's decision could go down as the critical moment that cost United the chance to secure an unprecedented five trophies in one season.

Man of the matches

Lionel Messi. Barcelona's brilliant little Argentinean ran the show in the first half to rip the heart of out Bayern's resistance.

Shock of the week

Porto was a heavy outsider before its visit to Old Trafford, yet the Portuguese champion matched United in every department and thoroughly deserved its 2-2 draw.


Thierry Henry's strike for Barcelona was his 50th career goal in the Champions League.

We're happy

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich craves this trophy more than any other and will be flushed with confidence after two goals from Branislav Ivanovic set up a 3-1 win at Liverpool.

We're not

Sir Alex Ferguson was mortified with his team's first-leg effort and admitted publicly that standards have dropped markedly since United's impressive midseason surge.

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