UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals: Previewing All Four of the Second Leg Ties
After nearly 600 blistering goals and countless nail-biting encounters between Europe's finest, the UEFA Champions League is getting hotter and hotter. In just a few days, millions of hearts will be in mouths as the second legs of the Quarterfinals get under way in Ukraine, England and Germany.
First off, Shakhtar Donetsk will be keen to overturn a 4 goal deficit as they take on Barcelona at the Donbass Arena while Manchester United attempt to defend a 1 goal lead when they battle Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Then, Inter face Schalke, trying to overcome a mammoth 3 goal margin at Arena AufSchalke and Real travel to London to face Tottenham to protect a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Here are the previews of all four matches:
Shakhtar Donetskvs Barcelona
Barcelona is the overwhelming favorite for their mid-week clash with Shakhtar Donetsk after they made light work of the Ukrainians at the Nou Camp last week.
The Catalan giants hold a 4 goal advantage going in to the clash at Donbass Arena but Pep Guardiola refuses to declare the tie over just yet, making an example of Barca's poor performance against Real Betis in the Copa del Rey.
Don't believe [Mircea Lucescu] when he says the tie is over. I'm telling you: this isn't finished yet.
We turned up at Real Betis [in the Copa del Rey] with a 5-0 lead and we suffered badly [losing 3-1]. I warned you all back then and I was accused of false modesty.
We are a little short at the back as with the absences of Abidal and Puyol we're missing important players with pace and we need to replace that with other qualities. Having said that, the players at my disposal are physical animals and if there's one thing they know it's how to compete."
But despite Guardiola's stern warning, suggesting that Barcelona will not progress to the Semi Finals and providing a valid explanation would be a very tough job.
After all, comparing the depth of Barcelona's squad and that of Shakhtar, the game is quite simply a mismatch.
Prediction: Barca to easily progress to face Real in a tantalizing Semi-Final.
Manchester United vs Chelsea
Perhaps the only tie that is up for grabs this week is the match up between British powerhouses, Chelsea and Manchester United. After an exciting clash at Stamford Bridge, United find themselves with a vital 1-0 lead to defend at Old Trafford. And unless Carlo Ancelotti demotes Fernando Torres to the bench, I don't think defending that lead won't be at all hard.
Torres showed glimpses of brilliance in the first leg but quite simply looked uninterested for the majority of the game and to top it off, missed an absolute sitter. And to tell the truth, that has been the story of his Chelsea career so far. My message to Carlo Ancelotti is: "If you start Fernando Torres, you might as well kiss the Champions League dream away for yet another season."
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney and the United midfield seem to be back in full swing and Chelsea will have to put in a memorable performance to overcome the deficit.
Prediction: United to progress with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.
Schalke vs Inter Milan
Inter faces an uphill task to qualify for the Semi-Finals after Schalke embarrassed them in the home leg with a massive 5-2 win.
Schalke outplayed and out-passed the reigning champions in an impressive display that shocked the critics and even Schalke manager Ralf Rangnick.
We are not in the semi-finals just yet, but we have a pretty big chance now. We know we have to digest this first, before we can fully appreciate it. Even at 3-2 and more so at 4-2 and after the second yellow for Chivu I was certain we would not lose anymore. In the end, we could have scored even more. It is surely the best game of my career.
Had someone told us before the match that we would beat Inter by three goals, we would have had him declared crazy.
We saw Saturday's game here and how much space AC Milan were given so we decided to start with José Manuel Jurado, to play football. If you try to just defend against a team like Inter, you are asking for trouble. Still, the first half was incredible: it could have been 5-5 at half-time.
With [Klaas-Jan] Huntelaar sidelined it was clear we needed a solution for the position of central forward and Edu needs to play there; he is not a winger. He got a real chance tonight and took it. Today, we can celebrate a bit, but then we have to focus on Saturday.
Prediction: Schalke to qualify comfortably regardless of any Inter performance. A 3 goal deficit is just too large to overturn.
Tottenham vs Real Madrid
Tottenham might as well kiss goodbye their Champions League hopes for this season, after Real Madrid easily disposed of the Londoners at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Madrid cruised to a 4-0 victory, courtesy of goals from Ángel Di María, Cristiano Ronaldo and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Adebayor troubled Spurs all night with his powerful aerial presence while Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and the rest of the Madrid squad controlled the game from start to finish.
Prediction: Real Madrid to easily progress to face Barcelona in an enticing Semi-Final tie.