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Champions League rolling blog: 12 April

Tuesday 12 April 2011, 23.59CET
UEFA.com's blog has reaction from the key men in Tuesday's quarter-final deciders, including Victor Valdés, Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex Ferguson.
 
 
Published: Tuesday 12 April 2011, 23.59CET

Champions League rolling blog: 12 April

UEFA.com's blog has reaction from the key men in Tuesday's quarter-final deciders, including Victor Valdés, Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex Ferguson.

In Tuesday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final second legs, Manchester United FC defeated Chelsea FC 2-1 on the night − 3-1 overall − while FC Barcelona prevailed 1-0 at FC Shakhtar Donetsk and 6-1 on aggregate.

UEFA.com brings you the reaction from Manchester and Dontesk (all times CET).

Tuesday 23.59, London
Video highlights of tonight's games are available here. The blog will return at 10.00CET with more reaction from Old Trafford and Donbass Arena, while we will also look forward to Wednesday's fixtures.

Tuesday 23.38, Donetsk
Sergio Busquets
said Barcelona are now looking forward to Saturday's encounter with Real Madrid CF after confirming their UEFA Champions League progress. "They started the game very well but after about 15 minutes we took control. I prefer to play in central midfield but I am willing to help out in any position; whatever the team needs. Now we can start thinking about this weekend's El Clásico. It will be a difficult game but we know that if we win we can almost sew up the title."

Tuesday 23.21, Manchester
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti rued his side's wastefulness in front of goal in the first half at Old Trafford, saying: "When we had control of the game for the first 25 minutes we were not able to score. We came back into the game with ten men [Ramires was sent off] but it was not enough."

Tuesday 23.05, Manchester
Sir Alex Ferguson feels his United team are hitting top gear at the right time as the domestic and European season enters its final straight. With his side top of the Premier League, in the FA Cup semi-finals and now through to the last four of the UEFA Champions League, he told Sky: "We've hit form, there's no doubt about that. You could see that in the second half at West Ham [a 4-2 win after being 2-0 down], the performance at Chelsea last week and again tonight."

United will play FC Schalke 04 or FC Internazionale Milano in the semi-finals later this month. "I'm going to the game tomorrow, it'll be interesting," he said of the match in Gelsenkirchen, where Schalke will defend a 5-2 lead. "With Inter's experience you wouldn't discount them but Schalke should get through."

Tuesday 23.00, Paul Bryan in Madrid
With tonight's goal taking Lionel Messi's tally in all competitions to 48 for Barcelona he has become the club's leading scorer in a single season, surpassing Ronaldo, who previously held the record for his efforts in 1996/97. He has also scored three times for Argentina.

Tuesday 22.56, Donetsk
Victor Valdés was among Barcelona's star performers as they won in Donetsk, and the goalkeeper is looking forward to some "intense but enjoyable encounters" against likely semi-final opponents Madrid in the coming weeks. "We're obviously very happy to have come through this tie," he said. "We put in a huge effort in the first leg and in the end that paved the way for us to advance. I think we're playing even better now than in previous seasons. We're full of eagerness to face Madrid at the weekend and in the Copa del Rey final next week."

Tuesday 22.52, Manchester
Ryan Giggs set up all three of United's goals against Chelsea across the tie from his position in central midfield. The 37-year-old told Sky at full time: "It makes it easier when you have the likes of Ji-Sung [Park], Nani and Antonio [Valencia] around you, so I enjoy it in there."

He also felt the timing of United's second goal – scored by Park Ji-Sung seconds after Didier Drogba equalised − was crucial. "They had just scored so us scoring so quickly after they had knocked the stuffing out of them. Confidence is high. We're getting players back and that's what you need for the run-in."

Tuesday 22.34, London: Tonight's final scores
United 2–1 Chelsea (agg: 3-1)
Shakhtar 0-1 Barcelona (agg: 1-6)

Semi-final draw (26/27 April and 3/4 May)
1: Inter/Schalke v United
2: Madrid/Tottenham v Barcelona

Tuesday 19.48, London
The lineups for tonight's matches have been announced. They can be found in the UEFA.com MatchCentre, where you can follow all of the action from Old Trafford and Donbass Arena. The blog will not be updated while the games are in progress but be sure to return at full time for immediate post-match reaction from the main protagonists.

Tuesday 19.40, Mark Pettit at White Hart Lane
Madrid legend Zinédine Zidane offered his guidance in the press conference to the current Merengues players, suggesting they should not look ahead to four potential meetings with Barcelona – in the Liga, Copa del Rey and twice in the UEFA Champions League – until they complete the job against Tottenham.

"My advice to the players is to go out tomorrow to win the game and respect Tottenham," he said. "Tomorrow still needs to be played out. We cannot talk about four games against Barcelona until after tomorrow night. Madrid are on the right path but they need to take things game by game. It would be fantastic to get to the final but we have to take things match by match at this stage."

Tuesday 19.07, Richard van Poortvliet at Donbass Arena
The concourses around the impressive Donbass Arena are starting to fill up, with Shakhtar fans happily mingling with their Barcelona counterparts. Not many supporters from Spain have made the trip to eastern Ukraine, yet the visitors will be cheered on by 100 members of the Moscow branch of the Barcelona fan club and 90 from Poland's equivalent.

Tuesday 19.05, London
In his press conference, José Mourinho said Madrid are giving the second leg against Tottenham their full "respect" but will not sit back at White Hart Lane despite a 4-0 lead. When asked if miracles can happen in football, a reference to the hosts' situation in the tie, the two-time UEFA Champions League winning coach replied: "We are here to play seriously but at the same time I don't think five goals is enough for Tottenham to beat us because we are here to score."

Tuesday 18.20, Simon Hart at Old Trafford
There are spectators already gathering outside Old Trafford and Sir Alex Ferguson, in his programme notes, asks United's fans to make the stadium "a cauldron of noise". With Chelsea bringing precisely 3,396 supporters – their full allocation – we should be guaranteed a lively atmosphere.

Sir Alex also says that he is hoping to avoid the "sickening feeling" of last season's UEFA Champions League exit at this stage against FC Bayern München, when United lost a tie in which they held a 4-2 aggregate lead at one stage. The Scot is not a man to forget and United will be ready to press home their 1-0 first-leg advantage. He adds of his team: "They are determined to come out on top against Chelsea tonight."

Tuesday 17.18, Richard van Poortvliet at the Donbass Palace Hotel
I'm just about to leave the Donbass Palace Hotel, where the Barcelona team is staying. A crowd of fans waiting to grab a glimpse of the players has been steadily growing throughout the day. Abdullah, a student from Sudan who is living and studying in Donetsk, has been waiting since 08.00 to get a look at Lionel Messi, his favourite player.

Elena and Svetlana, who are also big Barcelona fans, have made a 400km round trip from Dnepropetrovsk, even though they don't have tickets for the match. They have been waiting for a couple of hours just to get a glimpse of Xavi Hernández. There are around 300 fans waiting patiently in the early evening sunshine and their long vigil should soon be over as the Azulgrana will shortly appear to make the short ten-minute coach ride to the Donbass Arena.

Tuesday 16.50, Mark Pettit at White Hart Lane
There was a jovial and positive atmosphere emanating from the Tottenham training session this morning and that theme continued at their press conference. When asked if he had told his players that no team had come from four goals down after the first leg to win a UEFA Champions League tie, Harry Redknapp light-heartedly responded: "I haven't told them as what would be the use in coming? They may as well go shopping instead."

As for his expectations ahead of the game, the Spurs manager – with a chuckle – said: "I'd take penalties – we've been practising." Despite his laid-back exterior, Redknapp has still not given up hope and reminded everyone present of a recent example of an unexpected comeback. "I saw Fulham at home to Juventus last year. They were 3-1 down from the first leg then 1-0 down at home, then they won the tie so nothing is impossible."

Tuesday 16.16, London
Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Mario Gomez lead the UEFA Champions League scorers charts this season with eight goals each, but it is only the first two who can improve upon their tally this week, following the exit of Gomez's FC Bayern München in the round of 16. The top four as it is stands is:

Mario Gomez – 8
Lionel Messi – 8
Samuel Eto'o – 8
Nicolas Anelka – 7

View all this season's UEFA Champions League statistics.

Tuesday 15.42, London
Some interesting reading for you ahead of this week's deciders: Sergio Busquets spoke to Champions magazine recently about his ascent into the first team at Barcelona and we have been talking to José Mourinho about his maiden season at Madrid.

Tuesday 15.14, Mark Pettit at White Hart Lane
A busy day of press conference activity in north London will be upon us shortly as the sun begins to shine. There's still a slight chill in the air, perhaps reflecting the cold reality for the home side that they must somehow find a way of overcoming a 4-0 deficit. Tottenham midfielder Luka Modrić and manager Harry Redknapp will speak to the media within the hour to outline how they will approach their task.

Later on, we're hoping to hear from José Mourinho, Xabi Alonso and Madrid legend Zinédine Zidane. Following on from those newspaper reports this morning, Aaron Lennon took part in training this morning and will be eager to play tomorrow night having been "devastated" at missing the first leg through illness.

Tuesday 15.06, London
The English newspapers reported good news on the injury front for Tottenham this morning with the Daily Telegraph suggesting that Aaron Lennon could be fit after he missed last week's first leg through illness, and the Daily Mail saying Steven Pienaar is on the mend.

Tuesday 14.41, Richard van Poortvliet at Donbass Arena
The atmosphere in Donetsk is building with kick-off drawing ever nearer. The pitch looks in pristine condition, while the club shop is packed with fans buying merchandise, scarves and mugs being particularly popular, in order to commemorate one of the biggest days in Shakhtar's history.
The weather has taken a turn for the better, with the sun finally winning its battle to break out from the blanket of cloud that descended on the city during the morning.

This will certainly be appreciated by the couple of hundred fans who are standing outside the Donbass Palace Hotel, where Barcelona are staying. There were around 50 supporters waiting to get a glimpse of their stars at about breakfast and their number continues to grow and grow. However they are still going to be in for a long wait to try and get that all-important photo or autograph of Lionel Messi and Co, as the team won't be leaving the hotel for at least another three and a half hours.

Tuesday 14.17, Steffen Potter in Gelsenkirchen
The Schalke press conference has just finished with Ralf Rangnick saying his team will approach their second leg against Inter as if the tie was level. "We will look to play for a win and that's the how we want to think going into the match," said the coach, whose side hold a 5-2 lead from last week's away opener. "We will start with the actual score in mind, which is 0-0."

Tuesday 14.14, London
Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita spoke about "a very tough game" on the eve of the match with Shakhtar while the hosts' Yaroslav Rakitskiy had some words of advice for his team-mates.

Tuesday 13.56, Steffen Potter in Gelsenkirchen
Schalke's Joel Matip has warned his side against complacency and called upon them to replicate the positive mentality that served them so well at San Siro in the first leg. "Of course, we have created a nice advantage," he said, "but given the quality of the opposing team, you have to expect everything. We do not want to hide behind our advantage. We want to enter the game with the same attitude like in Milan."

Team-mate Hans Sarpei echoed Matip's sentiments. "This is a new game, 90 minutes will need to be played," he said. "We will try to attack and score a goal and not just sit back and wait to see what Inter are doing."

Tuesday 13.42, London
Rio Ferdinand was in last night's Manchester United press conference – hear what he had to say, and we also have the thoughts of Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien on tonight's big game.

Tuesday 13.37, London
As countdown continues to the 20.45 kick-offs, why not read our previews of the two games, United v Chelsea and Shakhtar v Barcelona?

Tuesday 13.28, Donetsk
Shakhtar president Rinat Akhmetov remains in buoyant mood ahead of tonight's meeting with Barcelona, stating that with time and hard work, the Ukrainian champions can eventually build a side to win the UEFA Champions League.

"As for the game against Barcelona, the final score was a blow to our ambitions," he started, "but, in my opinion, we showed good, attacking football and created a lot of scoring opportunities – I can say to all our fans that if we continue in the same way, we will eventually win the Champions League. This is our dream and our goal. And for this purpose, we will be working 24 hours a day."

Tuesday 13.14, London
In answer to a question posed by rkosmi1 in our comments field below,  the following players are a booking away from missing the semi-final first legs, should their side progress:

Chelsea: Fernando Torres, John Obi Mikel, Ramires, Yiri Zhirkov
Shakhtar
: Darijo Srna, Dmytro Chygrynskiy, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Luiz Adriano, Olexiy Gai, Yaroslav Rakitskiy
Inter: Thiago Motta
Real Madrid: Ángel Di María, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raúl Albiol, Ricardo Carvalho, Sergio Ramos
Schalke: José Manuel Jurado, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (likely to miss tomorrow's game through injury)

The full disciplinary list can be seen on page 41 of the match week stats pack.

Tuesday 12.29, Richard van Poortvliet at Donbass Arena
It's an overcast and distinctly chilly Donetsk, with spring showing no sign of giving the locals a welcome break after a long and cold winter. One might expect the Shakhtar fans to be equally gloomy going into tonight's second leg with Barcelona following their 5-1 defeat at the Camp Nou last week. However, the match is a sell-out, while the ticket offices around the ground have signs saying: "There are no tickets and there WON'T be any tickets."

Shakhtar may need a minor miracle, yet there is still plenty to play for as they put their unbeaten European home record at the Donbass Arena on the line; though the Pitmen did see their sequence of 56 matches without defeat on home soil in all competitions finally came to an end with Saturday's 1-0 loss to FC Obolon Kyiv.

Tuesday 12.09, Madrid
Real Madrid's strength in depth has been highlighted by ABC. Key players including Mesut Özil and Marcelo were rested in the 3-0 Liga victory over Athletic Club at the weekend, and the newspaper said: "The best news resulting from Madrid's trip to Bilbao was not the three points. Beyond the victory, the game served to freshen things up ahead of this morning's trip to London."

Tuesday 11.42, Munich
Following Schalke's resurgent league form and an outstanding 5-2 victory at Inter in the first leg, the German newspapers have been singing the praises of recently returned coach Ralf Rangnick, with Die Welt saying: "The new Schalke! Since Ralf Rangnick succeeded Felix Magath, Schalke have come alive again. The players seem to be liberated."

Tuesday 11.15, Madrid
Tomorrow's game at Tottenham will be Madrid boss José Mourinho's 500th as a coach and AS breaks down the Portuguese's record since his debut on 23 September 2000: 334 wins, 104 draws and 61 defeats. "It's been almost 11 years since that debut defeat in the Portuguese Liga [Boavista FC 1-0 SL Benfica]. In fact, it took three games for his first victory as a coach. Any early doubts are all history now, though."

Tuesday 11.01, London
The Independent notes that the all-Premier League nature of tonight's tie at Old Trafford means Sir Alex Ferguson and his United side still have plenty of work to do against Chelsea, despite being a goal up from the away leg. "Against virtually any other side in Europe, any sort of advantage from the away leg would leave United as overwhelming favourites to reach the next stage. As Ferguson acknowledges though, in Chelsea's case, familiarity breeds a different attitude."

Tuesday 10.55, Madrid
Much like the line taking by AS (see 10.14), El Mundo Deportivo is predicting a Barcelona-Real Madrid semi-final, but they do make it clear Josep Guardiola's side shouldn't take progress for granted. "If it seems like the Liga can only be lost now, then qualifying for the Champions League last four is exactly the same."

Tuesday 10.48, Milan
Looking at tomorrow's games, and Gazzetta dello Sport spoke with Inter president Massimo Moratti, who remained upbeat despite his side's heavy deficit from the first leg. "This is an impossible mission in itself, but for our peculiar situation it will be a fascinating game," he said.

"For the first time after a long absence Walter Samuel has returned to the squad, and even though he is unlikely to play, it's good for him to start breathing in such an atmosphere again. Also Diego Milito was back in the last few games and looked quite brilliant. This is important, as we need his help to recover."

Tuesday 10.24, London
Chelsea won at United last season in the Premier League en route to reclaiming the title, but the Daily Mirror points out that may be tough act to repeat in the cauldron of Europe's top club competition, saying: "[Carlo] Ancelotti knows Champions League history is against his men, that only two sides out of 32 – Ajax in 1996 and Inter this season – have gone through after losing the first leg at home."

Tuesday 10.14, Madrid
Sports daily AS says Barcelona should finish the job at Shakhtar this evening as the Spanish press already look ahead to a potential Clásico clash with Real Madrid in the last four. "Tonight's game has double value," it said. "On the one hand, it should see Barça enter their now customary territory of the semi-finals, but it also serves as a prelude to an exciting series of duels between Barça and Real Madrid."

Tuesday 10.02, London
After losing the first leg at home last week, the English newspapers have been speculating about the make-up of Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea lineup. The Daily Telegraph said "it is believed that he [Ancelotti] may alter the team's shape and deploy more attacking players", while former England striker Alan Smith added in the same paper that Frank Lampard must be "set free" in a 4-3-3 formation.

Tuesday 10.00, 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.

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.

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Last updated: 13/04/11 21.15CET
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