Champions League rolling blog: 14 March

UEFA.com will bring you all the latest news throughout the week in this rolling UEFA Champions League blog, with our team of reporters on duty in London, Madrid, Manchester and Munich.
Published: Monday 14 March 2011, 22.12CET

Champions League rolling blog: 14 March

UEFA.com will bring you all the latest news throughout the week in this rolling UEFA Champions League blog, with our team of reporters on duty in London, Madrid, Manchester and Munich.

The UEFA Champions League round of 16 concludes this week. On Tuesday, Manchester United FC host Olympique de Marseille at Old Trafford with the tie level after a goalless first leg while FC Bayern München will bid to further press their advantage after winning 1-0 at FC Internazionale Milano.

In Wednesday's deciders, Chelsea FC take a 2-0 lead into their home fixture against Danish league leaders FC København with Real Madrid CF taking on Olympique Lyonnais, the first leg in France having finished 1-1.

The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals takes place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Friday at 12.00CET.

UEFA.com's team of reporters will bring you all the latest news throughout the week in this rolling UEFA Champions League blog.

Monday 22.12, London
The blog has closed and will reopen on Tuesday at 10.00CET with more build-up to United v Marseille and Bayern against Inter, as well as news from the press conferences of those playing on Wednesday.

You can read here what United centre-back Chris Smalling has had to say about his fairy-tale rise from non-league football to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, and also catch Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda's thoughts on the second leg.

Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder, meanwhile has been quick to warn Bayern that the holders are far from a spent force ahead of the return in Munich. Read his views here.

Monday 18.35, Daniel Lerche in Munich
Wesley Sneijder said the holders had to believe in their ability to turn around their 1-0 deficit against Bayern. "We have to believe in our victory [prospects]. There are still 90 minutes left and we are here to win this game. For sure this will be an intensive evening tomorrow. Bayern won against Hamburg and it was impressive how they did it but I'm not thinking so much about them – I think about Inter and I have to say we are in very good shape."

Monday 18.20, Daniel Lerche in Munich
Inter coach Leonardo said he did not expect tomorrow's meeting with Bayern to finish goalless – despite the fact this result would suffice for the home side. "Bayern just need a 0-0, but I do not think the game will end that way.

"In San Siro a result other than the 0-1 was very possible – and also tomorrow anything is possible. It would not be a wonder if Bayern won but neither would it be anything special if we did. I do not think either team has an advantage tomorrow and we have already a clear strategy. I won't and can't promise anything, but we will play with a lot of confidence, passion and desire."

Monday 16.20, Peter Bruun in Copenhagen
København central defender Mikael Antonsson faces a race to be fit for Wednesday's match at Chelsea. "It is a struggle against the clock. The way things look now, we will not make a final decision until the day of the game," head coach Staale Solbakken said of the Swede, who has strained a muscle in his right buttock.

Solbakken is already missing suspended Czech international Zdeněk Pospěch from his defence. He is expected to be replaced by Pierre Bengtsson, while Jos Hooiveld would probably come in for Antonsson should he miss out.

Monday 16.05, Paolo Menicucci in Milan
Inter president Massimo Moratti is confident ahead of the game against Bayern. "We certainly believe we can do it, we have to," he told reporters when leaving his office in Milan. "We played well in the first leg, we hope to play a similar game but with a different result. Our players are mature enough to understand how important this match is for us."

The injured Diego Milito, who scored both goals in the final against Bayern last season, travelled with the team to Munich as did the ineligible Giampaolo Pazzini – a show of unity from Inter's squad ahead of this crucial encounter.

Monday 15.52, Nick Aitken at Carrington
Sir Alex Ferguson explained some of the recent good news about injured players as he addressed United's press conference. "There's a good chance Nani will be involved tomorrow, as he trained on Sunday also. Michael Carrick did too, which is also positive news for us. Both should be involved tomorrow night.

"It was a fantastic bonus to get 45 minutes from [Antonio] Valencia [in Saturday's 2-0 FA Cup win against Arsenal FC], since he's been out for so long. Question is whether to start him or do what we did on Saturday and use him from the bench, but it's a nice selection dilemma for me. It's a great bonus to have him back but the rest of the team needs to step up if we want to win the league."

Monday 15.43, Daniel Lerche in Munich
Louis van Gaal said at his press conference that Bayern's tails were up after putting six past Hamburg. "We had a very good game against Hamburg, so we have a newfound confidence in ourselves. However, Inter are a very strong opponent and we have to be very careful.

"Inter played the same way at San Siro as they did in last year's final. From my point of view, we were the better side in both games; one we won, one we lost. Football is always about goals. Tomorrow, my players have to be very focused, especially during the opening minutes, so they can size up Inter's tactics and respond. If we win, it would be a very special day: for one thing, we would have beaten the holders, for a second, Bayern have never beaten Inter at home."

Monday 14.08, London
Some positive news for United ahead of their game against Marseille; despite having been ruled out for three weeks with a leg injury, Portuguese international Nani trained with the first team this morning and may now be in for a place in Tuesday's round of 16 decider.

Elsewhere, defender Chris Smalling told United's official site that United were taking little comfort from their 0-0 first-leg draw against Marseille, explaining: "It's a bit of a dangerous scoreline with the way the away-goals rule works. It makes things interesting for the neutrals, but a bit nerve-wracking for the players and the fans."

Monday 12.00, London
We have a couple of new features worth checking out ahead of this week's games. Salomon Kalou told UEFA.com that victory in Copenhagen had restored Chelsea's spirits, explaining: "København can be the turning point, because going away and winning 2-0 is a great result."

Elsewhere, Marseille defender Gabriel Heinze is looking forward to his return to Old Trafford, with the former United star explaining: "I have so many great memories that I can't pick one out above the rest."

Monday 11.56, Munich
Following a 6-0 dismantling of Hamburger SV at the weekend, Bayern are understandably feeling pretty bright; that game featured Arjen Robben's third Bundesliga hat-trick while their 57 goals for the season puts them top of the league scorers table, though they are fourth in the conventional standings.

Philipp Lahm has now started in his side's last 100 competitive games in a row, a run stretching back almost two years to a UEFA Champions League game against FC Barcelona, while Ivica Olić is the only first-team player who remains on their injury list. After the Hamburg win, Louis van Gaal said: "Today you saw how Bayern can play. This was a very good preparation for Inter Milan"

Lahm added: "Every player wants to play in the Champions League; you could clearly see that today." Robben concluded: "I can sense a boost in confidence for many players on the pitch today. We have to continue on this path."

Monday 11.40, Milan
Some good news for Inter. UEFA.com reported that central defender Lúcio was likely to miss their decider at Bayern with a buttock injury sustained in Friday night's 1-1 draw at Brescia Calcio. However, the former Bayern man has now been included in Leonardo's squad for Tuesday's fixture.

Monday 11.32, London
The schedule for today's press conferences is as follows: United and Bayern are first up at 15.00, with striker Mario Gomez set to join coach Louis van Gaal as the Bavarians face the media. Our man in Munich, incidentally, is expecting rain this afternoon and for the whole of tomorrow.

Wesley Sneijder and his Inter coach Leonardo will be on the podium at 18.00, while Marseille's Didier Deschamps and Steve Mandanda will be answering questions at Old Trafford from 18.15.

Monday 11.20, Paul Bryan in Madrid
Iker Casillas has called on the home fans to roar Madrid home as they bid to get past the first knockout round for the first time since 2004. Ahead of Wednesday's second leg against Lyon, the Madrid captain said: "We want the supporters to come and to put in a good performance themselves; they will have an integral role to play if we are to have a magical night at the Santiago Bernabéu."

In-form striker Karim Benzema, meanwhile, said he would be "looking to score again in the second leg," while he remained "convinced we can get through" at the expense of his former side.

Monday 11.13, Paris
It looks like André-Pierre Gignac will be available for Marseille's decider at Old Trafford. The striker was taken off towards the end of Friday's 2-0 win at Stade Rennais FC, having sustained a minor left ankle strain. However, he has been included in the squad that set out for Manchester this morning.

Monday 11.00, London
Our Predictor competition gives you the chance to forecast this week's scores – and win semi-final tickets. Tickets are on offer in our Player Rater feature while there are also prizes to be won in Play of the Day, which reviews the top action from the last round of 16 games. Visit the Ford Classics page and enter the Champions Quiz for the chance to win a ticket for this season's final.

Our bloggers have been pondering the week's fixtures elsewhere; Paul Bryan salutes the moody magnificence of José Mourinho at Madrid while Matt Spiro wonders how France's finest will fare.

Keep up to date with all the latest news and exclusive interviews through our official Facebook pages for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA.com.

All times CET.


Last updated: 15/03/11 10.29CET