Barça, Real wary of quarters opponents

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola says his side must be at their best to see off Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, despite being heavy favourites to progress to the final four. Bookmakers have made the Catalan side their first choice to lift the trophy at Wembley after they drew one of the lesser lights left in the draw in Nyon.

Should they progress as expected they face the possibility of an El Clasico match-up with Primera Division rivals Real Madrid, who have been paired with surprise package Tottenham Hotspur.

Premier League rivals Manchester United and Chelsea contest an all-English encounter, with the winner set to face defending champions Inter Milan or Schalke. Assessing his side's prospects, Guardiola refused to take the Ukrainians lightly.

"We know Shakhtar and they know us. We've had some very tight games against them," Guardiola said. "They are a physically very strong team with experienced players. A little while ago they won the [UEFA] Europa League and we had it tough to beat them in the UEFA Super Cup [in 2009].

"They've had an excellent Champions League and have only lost to Arsenal. We will have to have two very good games to beat them. Playing the return leg there is a handicap but that's how the draw is."

We know Shakhtar and they know us. We've had some very tight games against them.
Pep Guardiola, Barcelona coach

Tough Tottenham
Real Madrid sporting director Miguel Pardeza was similarly wary of Tottenham. Spurs have performed admirably in their maiden Champions League season, beating Inter in the group stages and knocking out their city rivals AC Milan in the first knockout phase.

Pardeza, whose side will be reunited with former Real playmaker Rafael van der Vaart, said: "Tottenham are a good team, with a player we know in Van der Vaart as well as good wide players, good strikers. It's not going to be easy.

"Tottenham are not an easy opponent, but it could have been worse. They are doing well in the Premier League, they have made a big investment and although it seems they aren't an eye-catching rival and are somewhat unknown to the average fan, they will be a very difficult opponent.

"We would have liked the first game away, so we need to have a good game at home to be more comfortable for the match in England."

Schalke avoid Barcelona
Schalke's director of sport Horst Heldt was delighted to have avoided Barcelona, even if his side were matched with defending champions Inter. Schalke travel to the San Siro for the first leg, with the return fixture in the Arena AufSchalke a week later and Heldt is looking forward to both games.

Having suffered against the might of Barça previously in his career, Heldt's primary hope was to avoid the Catalans.

"The worst moment is when Barcelona's name came out and we were still in the draw," Heldt told Schalke's official website. I have played against Barcelona twice with Stuttgart and I don't have very fond memories of them.

"Inter is a very, very strong opponent. You could see that in the last round when they beat Bayern Munich. But we are looking forward to the challenge. The good thing is we start off at 0-0 and I am really looking forward to the two games."

The worst moment is when Barcelona's name came out and we were still in the draw.
Horst Heldt, Schalke's director of sport

Inter captain Javier Zanetti, meanwhile, has vowed not to underestimate the German side.

"We must respect Schalke because it will be a difficult game just like the rest,'' Zanetti told Inter Milan's official website. "You don't arrive to the Champions League quarter-finals just like that."

Schalke beat Inter on penalties in the 1996-97 UEFA Cup final and Zanetti has not forgotten that painful defeat.

"I remember it,'' he said. "We lost that final and now we have an opportunity to avenge that defeat by progressing to the next round.''

Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, meanwhile, knows his side face a stern test in their Premier League showdown with Chelsea, which is also a repeat of the 2008 Champions League final won by the Red Devils on penalties.

Chelsea host the first leg at Stamford Bridge before the deciding leg at Old Trafford, something Hernandez feels may work in United's favour.

"We play in the same league and it is going to be tough,'' said Hernandez, who scored both goals against Marseille on Tuesday to sweep United into the quarter-finals.

"Stamford Bridge is a nice stadium and it makes it a little bit like a league game. But if there is an advantage that we are at home in the second game."