Hailed as perhaps soccer’s greatest team ever, FC Barcelona faced a challenge no club had overcome: advancing in the Champions League after a 2-0 first-leg loss on the road. Barcelona came through in spectacular fashion with another record-setting night.
Many voices have been doubting Barça in recent weeks, but the critics were soon silenced by the blistering way that the Catalans started tonight, immediately throwing everything at a Milan side that wasn’t given a moment to think. The visitors had barely touched the ball or built up any kind of momentum when Messi stunned Abbiati with a brilliantly placed strike that took so much wind out of Milan that they never really recovered.
Iniesta hits the bar
The quarter-finals of the Champions League have made exciting viewing so far and although Arsenal have been written off in the European tournament this season. Arsenal fans will remain hopeful of a Miracle in Munich this Wednesday.
Bayern are being touted as early favorites for the Champions League title this season after a exciting run in the European tournament this season. Bayern have blazed through the Bundesliga this season, building an insurmountable 20 point lead over second placed Borussia Dortmund and Jupp Heynckes will be keen on laying his hands on the trophy with the big ears in his las season as Bayern boss.
7th place Liverpool host 3rd place Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool. Luis Suárez and Gareth Bale can strengthen their player of the year claims at Anfield and their club's European ambitions in the process. Tottenham went third after winning the north London derby and secured a sixth victory in seven matches against Internazionale on Thursday. Bale has scored seven in the last five league games while Suárez has six in his last three outings. Liverpool have lost only one of the last 18 league meetings between the teams at Anfield and steady improvement has closed the gap on the Europa League places. Jamie Carragher is in line to make his 500th Premier League appearance for the club.
Liverpool’s form has been up and down this season, but the side look a lot more comfortable playing the Brendan Rogers way compared to the start of the season. Suarez, the stand out performer so far, terrorized Wigan’s defense in their last league game scoring a hat trick, and it looks like the Uruguayan is in the form of his life.
Robin van Persie is known for losing his temper quite easily. The Dutch player will need to keep his cool on Tuesday as one booking would put him under a ban. The situation is similar for Rafael who was tasked by Alex Ferguson to mark Cristiano Ronaldo in the first leg of this tie at the Santiago Bernabeu. The same goes for influential defender Sergio Ramos and midfielder Xabi Alonso of Real Madrid. These four key players will need to play with caution.
Shinji Kagawa proved his intent to feature against Los Blancos with a hat-trick against Norwich City on Saturday. He made history by becoming the first Asian to net three goals in one match in the English Premier League. If played on Tuesday, he may cause troubles with his pace and desire to make a big impact on the international stage since quitting German football last summer.
With the league title slipping away, Real Madrid will concentrate on the second-leg trip to Manchester United on Tuesday. Having beaten them on Tuesday, Jose Mourinho's side will have a similar game plan and the home fans right behind them. Real will take this clash against their arch rivals as a solid foundation ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been the focal points of El Clasico's for a few years now. Messi had taken full control as Barca dominated for a few seasons. But in September the balance of force was equal as both scored in a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou. But Ronaldo has come back with goals in their recent meetings. The 16-point gap means Mourinho is likely to shuffle is squad keeping in mind the trip to Old Trafford. But Barcelona have more to worry with Messi, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas failing to match their standards in the two recent defeats.