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Next up for Alex Ferguson’s men is the visit of title rivals Chelsea on Sunday, certain to be a much stiffer test than a disappointingly lacklustre Schalke 04 on Wednesday. Will United’s formidable home record count in their favour?
Staying in Europe, and Thursday is Europa League day. Porto take a 5-1 lead into the second semi-final leg against Villarreal, while compatriots Benfica beat fellow Portuguese club Braga 2-1 at home.
Well it looks like being a Barcelona v Manchester United final in the Champions League on May 28 after the Catalans booked their Wembley tickets on Tuesday, though Schalke 04 will have something to say about that in the penultimate match of the 2010-11 competition.
Barcelona were simply too good for Real Madrid despite the 1-1 scoreline, and you get the feeling that in this sort of form they will be hard to stop.
The Champions League is the biggest club competition in the world and generally where players peak, so Wednesday’s semi-final first leg should be the best of the recent encounters between the Spanish rivals.
They might be running away with the Premier League title and facing a side who are 10th in their own table (ok, those portents look pretty rosy), but they have come unstuck the last two times they have lined up against German rivals in the semi-finals.
So there were no incredible comebacks after all. Sorry Tottenham and hapless Heurelho Gomes, but the neutrals have got their Real Madrid v Barcelona semi-final and expect the hype to be greater than almost any two games ever played.
In the other semi-final Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson will be able to take a close look at Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who was largely untroubled by departing holders Inter Milan last night.
So this week’s Champions League quarter-final action is over and the semi-finals are set up. As expected Real Madrid strolled through their second-leg against Spurs and will now face Barcelona. The Spanish giants are set to clash four times in 18 days, including Saturday’s La Liga match at the Bernabeu and the King’s Cup final on April 20 in Valencia.
After their astonishing win at the San Siro, Schalke 04 finished off the job against Inter to set up a meeting with Manchester United.
Where to start after four brilliant Champions League quarter-finals, even if the intrigue for next week’s second legs has all but gone from three of the ties with Barcelona leading Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1, Real Madrid 4-0 up against Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 in total charge against holders Inter Milan after the 5-2 triumph at the San Siro.
However, the appetite has most certainly been whet for the very probable ‘Clasico’ semi-final between Real and Barcelona, a meeting of the world’s two best players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. April 26 or 27 and May 3 or 4. Do not miss these dates. Not that Spain’s two leading clubs are thinking that far ahead.
Got your breath back yet? Perfected the Dejan Stankovic volley in your mirror ready to take out on the pitch? Well Tuesday’s first installment of four Champions League quarter-final evenings was spectacular and there is more to come on Wednesday.
First, a recap of last night. The Real Madrid backlash did kick in, though against the 10 men of Tottenham Hotspur and two extremely well-taken goals that on another night may have gone wide of the post.
With all the hype surrounding this week’s Champions League quarter-finals, the events of the weekend seem like a distant memory. Here’s a recap of a fascinating set of results around Europe the past few days.
Well well well. Now the Champions League really is wide open..
So here’s that quarter-final draw again:
Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea v Manchester United
Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan v Schalke 04
As Gary Lineker put it, there will be an English team in the semi-finals, but could Tottenham make it two sides? Real are certainly not invincible.
Now, before taking a look at all the domestic leagues over the weekend, a recap of Thursday’s highlights from the Europa League. Quite a night of upsets.