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Champions League rolling blog: 4 April

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 Madrid, Milan, London and Barcelona.
 
 
Published: Monday 4 April 2011, 22.08CET

Champions League rolling blog: 4 April

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 Madrid, Milan, London and Barcelona.

The UEFA Champions League quarter-finals kick off this week. On Tuesday, Real Madrid CF take on Tottenham Hotspur FC while holders FC Internazionale Milano are up against FC Schalke 04.

In Wednesday's games, Chelsea FC and Manchester United FC meet in London, while FC Barcelona host FC Shakhtar Donetsk. The pairings for the semi-finals and final have already been decided. Have your say on who you think will go through in our preview blog.

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

Monday 22.08, London
The blog has closed and will reopen on Tuesday at 10.30CET with more build-up to Madrid v Tottenham and Inter against Schalke, as well as news from the press conferences of those teams playing on Wednesday.

Monday 20.50, London
The match previews for Madrid v Tottenham and Inter against Schalke are now online, as are Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's thoughts on his team's encounter with the holders at San Siro.

Monday 19.55, Marcos Prieto at Valdebebas
Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, who moved to White Hart Lane from Madrid, has been speaking to the media in the Spanish capital. "I had a great time here," he said. "Real Madrid is a great club and for me this match is something special because I left Madrid eight months ago. We have nothing to lose.

"I'm very happy because Gareth Bale can play tomorrow. We have a chance to win and he is very important for us. We need a goal tomorrow to have a good chance. I'm in top shape."

Monday 19.10, London
Gonzalo Higuaín, meanwhile, is also fit having returned at the weekend and is keen to make an impact against Spurs.

Monday 19.00, Marcos Prieto at Valdebebas
Good news for Madrid fans over Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo, who had been considered doubts with respective thigh and rib problems. Both trained without any problems this afternoon and are included on the official squad list for tomorrow's game, along with Kaká and Ángel Di María (thigh), the latter of whom did not take part in today's session.

Three players not in the squad to face Spurs are Karim Benzema (thigh), Fernando Gago (thigh) and Pedro León (knee).

Monday 18.50, Roberta Radaelli in Milan
The San Siro press conference room is packed with cameramen, photographers and journalists, with the Germans outnumbering their Italian counterparts. They all burst into laughter when the interpreter revealed that the password for the wireless internet access is 'forzaleonardo2011', which means 'go Leonardo 2011'.

Manuel Neuer is the first to speak in the press conference and says: "We saw the return leg that Inter played against Bayern and after the first half it seemed they would lose, but they didn't give up and qualified. We have to keep focused and pay attention, this is what we learnt from that game."

Monday 18.08, London
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.

The Schalke and Tottenham press conferences will begin very shortly, so be sure to stay with UEFA.com for all the news and thoughts from both camps ahead of their respective first legs.

Monday 15.55, Marcos Prieto at Valdebebas
Madrid may have lost further ground in the Spanish championship race after Saturday's defeat by Sporting but Mourinho insisted at his press conference that: "It's time to think of the Champions League."

One player raring to go tomorrow is forward Gonzalo Higuaín, who returned after an absence of four and a half months as a substitute against Sporting. "It's a real pleasure to be playing in the quarter-finals after my injury," said the Argentinian, whose return is a boost given Karim Benzema's injury and the doubts over Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo and Ángel Di María.

Harry Redknapp and ex-Madrid player Rafael van der Vaart will speak at Tottenham's 18.15CET press conference at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Monday 13.29, Roberta Radaelli in Milan
Diego Milito was the Inter player chosen to speak on the eve of the game against Schalke, and the two-goal hero of last year's final against FC Bayern München is looking forward to tackling further German opposition. "As I have always done I will work for the team, but I am a striker so I am happy when I score, that's my job," said the 31-year-old. "I know that the most important thing is that Inter can go all the way to Wembley, even if somebody else scores. I have always thought about the team first, but of course I'd love to score."

Coach Leonardo, on the other hand, warned his players not to underestimate tomorrow's opponents, even if they haven't done well in the Bundesliga this term. "I know that they didn't get many good results in their league, but they did in the Champions League so we have to be focused; they have many qualities."

Monday 13.00, Marcos Prieto at Valdebebas
Following a rainy weekend, we have a a sunny day in Madrid, where the Merengues have confirmed that José Mourinho will be sharing the podium with newly-returned forward Gonzalo Higuaín and Zinédine Zidane, who now works a special adviser to the first team, at their 15.15 press conference.

Monday 12.36, Frankfurt
New Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick is excited about making the trip to San Siro to take on Inter, explaining: "We have nothing to lose and are clear outsiders. We want to make the best out of this underdog role."

Christoph Metzelder has broken his nose for the fourth time in his career, but is likely to play in a protective mask against Inter, who feature one of the defender's former Madrid team-mates. "I am looking forward especially to facing Wesley Sneijder," the 30-year-old said. "Like [Samuel] Eto'o, he is one of the best attackers in the world."

Schalke played Inter in the two-legged 1997 UEFA Cup final, losing the return leg 1-0 at San Siro but winning the trophy 4-1 on penalties. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said: "Maybe it is a good omen that Schalke have been successful there in the past. Our plan is not to concede and to get a good result to take back home for the second leg."

Monday 12.13, London
Tottenham midfielder Steven Pienaar is determined to make it through to the last four in the UEFA Champions League, having bowed out to a last-gasp goal in the quarter-finals with AFC Ajax in 2002/03. "We were a few seconds away from the semi-final," he told Spurs' official website. "It was heartbreaking for us at the time but hopefully now I can go one step further."

The 29-year-old has revealed that he will miss the first leg with a groin injury, but feels Spurs have nothing to fear at the Santiago Bernabéu. "If you want to be the best, you have to go out there and compete against the best," he said. "We're up against one of the biggest teams in the world and from our point of view, we have to go there, believe in ourselves and make the most of it. It's a good chance for us to show the world that we've got potential as a team and hopefully we can go one step further than Real Madrid."

Monday 12.06, Madrid
After Madrid's defeat at home by Real Sporting de Gijón allowed rivals  Barcelona to open an eight-point lead at the top of the Liga standings, all the talk in the Spanish capital today revolves around whether or not José Mourinho will field the injured Cristiano Ronaldo (thigh) and Marcelo
(ribs) in tomorrow night's crucial encounter.

"If Cristiano plays it will be because he and I are taking a risk," the coach said after Saturday's league defeat. "Our medical department said Marcelo is out for two weeks and if I go over their heads they may end up killing me but we might take a chance; I'll talk with the players concerned and see how they feel."

Madrid are scheduled to train in Valdebebas at 16.00CET with Mourinho due to name his squad after the session.

Monday 11.39, Madrid
On-loan Madrid striker Emmanuel Adebayor has warned his team-mates they are in for a "battle" against Spurs, who are fifth in the Premier League. "They don't drop their rhythm for the whole 90 minutes, even if they are 3-0 down," the Togolese forward explained. "They're not going to give up until the final whistle; it's not in the mentality of English teams to do so."

The Manchester City FC player scored eight goals in nine north London derbies against Spurs during his time at Arsenal FC and admitted that winning the UEFA Champions League with the Merengues this term would represent "the best thing that has happened in my life," adding: "With this team, this coach and this club, we can go all the way in the tournament."

Monday 11.13, London
Ahead of the game against Tottenham, former Chelsea centre-back Ricardo Carvalho – now a regular under his old Stamford Bridge boss José Mourinho at Madrid – spoke to The Guardian. Asked whether he would prefer to be up against Peter Crouch or Jermain Defoe on Tuesday night, the defender said: "They're both very good but very different and we'll be forced to adapt accordingly. Against Crouch we can play higher because he is not so dangerous on the shoulder, while Defoe is quicker behind you. I don't mind. I'm not worried about them – so long as I'm fit, strong and playing well."

The 32-year-old confirmed that a dream final would pit his current club against Chelsea, who take on United in their quarter-final opener on Wednesday. "I talk to the Chelsea players," he said. "Whenever they say they've had a bad game, I say, 'Nah, you're strong still'. They're the best team in England and I know what it would mean to them to reach the final."

Monday 11.05, Milan
Inter tried to leave their 3-0 league defeat by AC Milan behind them with some "regenerative work" on Sunday, when coach Leonardo held a meeting with his more experienced players to ask them to focus before Tuesday's game against Schalke. Five points behind their city rivals in Serie A, and now third in the table, the Nerazzurri are now making the European campaign their priority and Leonardo is confident of his players' chances.

"I always think positively," said the Brazilian coach. "We were unlucky against Milan because we conceded a goal in the first minute, now we have to focus on the Schalke game because every match at this stage of the competition is tough."

Monday 11.00, London
We have interviews with several players in the run-up to this week's games. Chelsea's Salomon Kalou told UEFA.com that things have been looking up for his side since a victory against quarter-final opponents United in the league.

Meanwhile, Pedro Rodríguez warned his Barcelona team-mates not to take Shakhtar lightly, citing last season's semi-final exit against Inter. He said: "We must try to learn from these games, because in the future we'll have many teams playing like that against us."

Shakhtar's Dmytro Chygrynskiy was a Barcelona player this time last season, and he admitted that having to leave the club to return to Ukraine was a bitter blow, noting: "I admit I was disappointed; this is Barcelona we're talking about – the best club in the world"

Monday 10.50, London
A quick rundown on today's press conferences. Inter are first up at the Angelo Moratti training centre from 13.00, with Madrid next at 15.15 at their Valdebabas complex. Tottenham will take centre stage at the Santiago Bernabéu from 18.15, with Schalke's conference scheduled to start 15 minutes later at San Siro.

UEFA.com will have reporters at all four venues to bring you the latest news.

Monday 10.30, 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.

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.

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Last updated: 05/04/11 10.29CET
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