The first legs of the quarter-finals saw 3 of 4 matches end with large advantages being established. The fixture that all the attention will be focused on this week will be the second leg match between Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC.
United played a perfect road game and took an important away goal and a 1-0 aggregate lead back to Old Trafford. United are unbeaten at home in all competitions this season but Chelsea won on their last trip to Old Trafford 12 months ago. Chelsea need at least a 2-0 or 2-1 victory to advance. A 1-0 result for Chelsea after 90 minutes would take the game to extra time.
Chelsea are seeking a sixth UEFA Champions League semi-final appearance in eight seasons while United are bidding for a fourth in five years. Chelsea’s domestic league hopes are all but gone so I would expect them to throw everything they have into Tuesday’s game.
Depsite all the talk of how daunting it can be for away clubs to play at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, FC Barcelona are sitting on a massive 4 goal advantage. In order to advance, Shakhtar must do what only three clubs have previously managed in UEFA competition – overturn a four-goal first-leg deficit.
Real Madrid CF recovered a 5-1 loss at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup third round, winning the return 4-0. Leixões SC lost 6-2 at FC La Chaux-de-Fonds in the 1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup preliminary round but took the tie with a 5-0 triumph in Portugal. FK Partizan also lost 6-2 at Queens Park Rangers FC in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup second round first leg, but prevailed on away goals with a 4-0 victory in Belgrade.
Defending champions Internazionale FC have an even higher mountain to scale. They were defeated 5-2 at the San Siro by FC Schalke 04. No side has ever recovered from such a big home deficit to win a UEFA Champions League tie.
Tottenham Hotspur FC are heading home to White Hart Lane down 4 goals to Real Madrid CF and do not have the comfort of an away goal to ease their burden. It looks to be a monumental ask for their first adventure into the Champions League to continue. Two rash and unnecessary tackles by Tottenham forward Peter Crouch were the turning point of the match. Crouch gave the referee little option in either case but to show him a yellow card. The second tackle resulted in the red card being shown with only 15 minutes gone on the clock. Tottenham’s hope of an away result were gone just as quickly.
Real Madrid CF are primed to reach a first UEFA Champions League semi-final for eight years. That Madrid squad, which included the likes of Ronaldo, Raul and Zinedine Zidane, lost in the 2002-03 semi-finals to runners-up Juventus.
Spurs have to go a long way back in their history — almost 40 years to find inspiration to overturn the deficit they face. Down by a 4-2 margin to Polish side Górnik Zabrze, Tottenham were imperious at home producing an 8-1 victory. That was under the guidance of Tottenham legend Bill Nicholson who served the club in every capacity from boot room apprentice to club president.
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