Quartet praying for a miracle

After suffering heavy first-leg defeats holders Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and Shakhtar Donetsk all need goals galore in their respective return matches against Schalke 04, Real Madrid and Barcelona if they are to make the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Chelsea also face a tall order after losing 1-0 at home to Manchester United and will need to storm the Old Trafford fortress to stay alive in the competition.

FIFA.com previews this week’s quarter-final second legs, in which four teams are hoping for a dramatic turn of events.

Match of the day
Manchester United-Chelsea, Old Trafford, Tuesday 12 April, 20.45
Carlo Ancelotti is not lacking in belief ahead of Chelsea’s trip north. “I’ve already won in Manchester, and all we need to get back into it is a goal,” he reminded his players in the wake of their home defeat to United last week.

The problem for the Londoners is that their strike force has lost its punch, having scored 15 goals less than Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Fernando Torres is still looking for his first goal in blue after 763 minutes, and Didier Drogba is also going through a lean spell after barely putting a foot wrong last season.

Last weekend’s league matches offered up little hope of a recovery for Chelsea, who laboured to a 1-0 win over bottom club Wigan, while the leaders strolled to victory over Fulham. The Manchester giants are not lacking in incentive either, with a treble still in their sights along with a European return to Wembley, where they conquered the continent for the first time 43 years ago.

The other matches
Shakhtar Donetsk-Barcelona, Tuesday 12 April
Even though Mircea Lucescu has said the tie is as good as over for Shakhtar, Pep Guardiola is taking nothing for granted. In the absence of Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal, Barcelona looked less than secure at the back in the first leg and were slightly flattered by the 5-1 scoreline. That said, they would have to perform well below their best to allow the Ukrainians back into the tie, especially on the evidence of Shakhtar’s 1-0 defeat at home to Obolon Kiev at the weekend, their first at the Donbass since 2008. The Ukrainians will also be hampered by the absence of their injured skipper Darijo Srna, while centre-half Dmitri Chygrynskiy is struggling to be fit in time.

Tottenham Hotspur-Real Madrid, Wednesday 13 April
Trailing 4-0 on aggregate, Spurs’ task is made all the more daunting by the fact that no other club has won as many games in the European Cup/Champions League as Real Madrid. The north Londoners will also be without towering target man Peter Crouch, who scored twice in the win against Stoke City at the weekend but was sent off at the Bernabeu last week. Unbeaten away from home in this year’s competition, the Spaniards tuned up with a fine 3-0 victory at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, with Kaka running into some welcome form and scoring twice from the spot. While Saturday’s big match against Barcelona is looming large for the Madrid giants, coach Jose Mourinho will no doubt be keeping them focused on the job in hand at White Hart Lane.

Schalke 04-Inter Milan, Wednesday 13 April
The Ralf Rangnick effect has been working wonders for Schalke, who followed up last week’s stunning 5-2 triumph at Inter with their first away win of the league season, a 1-0 success at Wolfsburg, now coached by his predecessor Felix Magath. Inter got back to winning ways by disposing of Chievo 2-0, albeit with goals from players more noted for their defensive abilities: Maicon and Esteban Cambiasso. “We believe,” announced a defiant Leonardo, who is banking on his players’ vast experience to carry them through. “Our fightback started with the win against Chievo,” said striker Diego Milito, upon whom much of Inter’s hopes are resting.  

Player to watch
Didier Drogba has plenty to prove at Old Trafford as he seeks to regain his form and the confidence of his coach. Seven times a starter in the 11 games since Fernando Torres’ arrival, the 33-year-old Ivorian has scored just once in that time, an unsatisfactory return for a striker who claimed 29 goals in the Premier League alone last season.

The stat
4-0 -
The scoreline when Deportivo La Coruna staged the biggest Champions League comeback of all time in beating Milan in the second leg of their 2004 quarter-final, having lost at the San Siro 4-1.

What they said
“Anything can happen in football, and any dream is possible. Death is the only thing that there’s no remedy for,” Samuel Eto'o, Inter Milan striker.

Have your say
Can Inter Milan, Tottenham or Shakhtar Donetsk defy the odds and turn their ties around?