Arsenal Knocked Out, Barca, Lyon Look to Advance

After suffering a brutal 4-0 loss to AC Milan February 15th, Arsenal made a valiant effort at a comeback, but ultimately fell short, losing 4-3 on aggregate. The dramatic story of the second leg is not from goals by Koscielny, Rosicky or Van Persie (penalty) all in the first half, but Gunners coach Arsene Wegner who may face another ban from UEFA.

Wegner was outraged not only at the excessive foul calls on his players (21 to Milan’s 8), but the poor conditions at Emirates Stadium. If banned, this would be Wegner’s third ban in one year. His first ban was for comments towards eventual Champions League winners Barcelona when the Gunners were eliminated by the Spanish powerhouse last season. That ban was extended when Wegner was reported to be communicating with players via a coach in the first-leg qualifier against Udinese.

Perhaps it’s better this way, that Arsenal now focus on retaining that 4th slot in the Premier League to secure a bid to Champions League next year. While the Manchester squads sit comfortably at the top, and Tottenham not far behind, the battle for fourth place is still a tossup and will likely come down to the final games of the season..

Meanwhile, Barcelona and Lyon look to continue their first leg victories and advance onto the round of eight. Barca, having won 3-1 in the first leg against Bayer Leverkusen, are returning to Camp Nou to hopefully finish the job. A lot of controversy has stirred up over refereeing, but Busquets is reassuring that its the players job simply to focus on playing, and nothing more. Leverkusen is coming off their third straight Brundesliga win, including one over German powerhouse Bayern Munich, which should boost the clubs momentum and chances of staying advancing to the next round.

French side Lyon also looks to hang on to their 1-0 lead, as there away performance has been shaky this season. Now falling off the third spot in Ligue 1, they may not be returning to Champion’s League next year. Apoel Nicosia is one of the highlights of Champions League this year, as several underdogs have made it beyond preliminary rounds. Benefica ousted Zenit St. Petersburg last night with a 2-0 win at their home stadium. Meanwhile, Basel, Marseille and Napoli all lead going into the second leg, with Moskow tied against Real Madrid. The second leg finishes up by next Wendesday, March 14th.

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