The English matchup pits two of the most successful teams in the past 10 years of European football head-to-head. Chelsea though, have never won top honors in Europe, losing finalists to these very same opponents only a few years ago.
Manchester United have faded domestically in recent seasons from the spectacular heights they achieved with the European double in 2007-08. Wherein they were able to squeeze past Chelsea thanks to some rather "earthmoving" fortune involving Chelsea's John Terry.
These teams however, always seem to meet somewhere, and the resulting tie has for the last 10 or so years ended in Chelsea's favor more often than not. This despite United winning perhaps the most important of those matches over that time, thanks to the freak mud-induced slipping incident mentioned earlier.
Chelsea do have a slight mental edge on United if we are to look back, always seeming to come up with the goods to do the necessary damage in the closing stages, much like United do against many others.
The recent league match a prime example of Chelsea powering to a finish that looked like a fairy tale when United finished the first half in good form. Chelsea, though, blasted out of the tunnel and ran United ragged in the second half, the team's audacity and willingness to attack from anywhere seemed borne of a feeling they had nothing to lose and not long to do so.
This same situation played out in the European final the two contested in Moscow—Chelsea powering to the finish, despite United's early advantage. The loose turf was United's savior that day though, its intervention proving the decisive contribution.
The never-say-die attitude, which is the mark of true champion teams, coupled with Chelsea's array of excellent footballing talents proved enough to overpower United in the second half in the recent league match. This does not bode well for United in terms of the upcoming tie.
Chelsea have shown through the performance at Stamford Bridge that they have the belief to fight back against the best. This is something that United will have to consider well coming into the quarterfinal matchup. Chelsea having fallen out of the title race now have only Europe with which to redeem their manager and themselves; they will be hell bent, like Lucifer, skiing downhill.
The following piece will outline five things that United will have to do in order to prevail in this tie, to try to nullify the Chelsea hoodoo. Five things that could possibly end up defining Alex Ferguson's career.