Manchester United, Barcelona need draw to advanceApril 8th, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by admin
(Lead, Champions League Preview)
Hamburg, April 8 (DPA) Manchester United and Barcelona need just a draw Wednesday to advance to the semi-finals of the lucrative European Champions League. United and Barcelona took a major step towards the next round with away wins in Roma and Schalke 04 respectively. The lone German representative remaining in the competition, Schalke 04 will have their work cut out, having lost 0-1 at home to Barcelona in the first leg.
Their domestic form though has been impressive as they have moved to second in the Bundesliga standings and midfielder Jermaine Jones believes they still have a chance.
“You don’t get to play against the best of the best that often so the return will be quite something. We have 90 minutes to consign the first match to memory and we know Barcelona can be fragile in defence.
“Nobody gave us a chance against Porto yet we made the quarter-finals. We have been written off in the Bundesliga and now we are second,” he said.
Barcelona’s former World Footballer of the Year Gianluca Zambrotta also does not believe that it is all over.
“People are asking me if I’d prefer Manchester United or AS Roma but I’ll not answer that because there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Serie A club Roma have an even more difficult task in Manchester as they seek to overcome a 2-0 home defeat. Plus, they will be playing against United without inspirational captain Francesco Totti.
Last year, Roma lost their quarter-final clash in Manchester 7-1 and the players are hoping to put that disaster behind them.
“We have to give our best and see what happens,” Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi told the UEFA website.
Having scored a crucial away goal, Liverpool hold a slight advantage against Arsenal Tuesday, but the Gunners will be hoping for the kind of result they achieved in the previous round, when they won 2-0 at AC Milan to advance.
Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez is not taking anything for granted.
“We have confidence, but know they have quality, can play well away and are dangerous,” he said.
He dismissed speculation that his side would play for a goalless draw, which would be enough on the away goal rule.
“It is very difficult to play for a 0-0 draw. I don’t know how to do it.”
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, who has seen his hopes of a Premiership title all but evaporate of the last few weeks, will ask his players for one more huge effort at Anfield, even if he is refusing to give up the battle for the league title.
“It is still too early to make any conclusions about our season but I know we can qualify Tuesday because we have the quality to do it,” he said.
Chelsea, meanwhile, need to win to go through and that is something that gives Brazilian World Cup winner Zico, who coaches Fenerbahce, plenty of hope.
“Yes, we have to go to Stamford Bridge, but of the three possible outcomes of that match - win, lose or draw - two of them will take us through to the semi-finals,” he said.
“From the beginning, our ultimate goal has always been the final. At the moment, all we are thinking about is the game in London and getting to the semi-final, but we are getting there step by step and we want to be in Moscow.”
His Chelsea counterpart Avram Grant is similarly confident that his side can advance.
“I know what I expect and what we can do. I have confidence in my team, never mind whether we are playing Fenerbahce or Barcelona. I know it will not be easy, but I know we can win. We have a lot of quality and can beat anyone.”
Tags: ac milan, bundesliga, champions league, de rossi, european champions, footballer of the year, german representative, gunners, hamburg april, inspirational captain, jermaine jones, league preview, manchester united, midfielder, quarter finals, rafael benitez, schalke 04, semi finals, world footballer of the year, zambrotta