UEFA.com's team of reporters and correspondents provide you with build-up to this evening's round of 16 first legs and reaction from last night's games.
All times CET
Wednesday 19.30, UEFA.com newsdesk
Have your say on the night's UEFA Champions League action on Twitter using #ChampionsLeague and make sure you follow @UEFAcom for the best post-match reaction and video highlights. In the meantime, keep up to speed with events in Switzerland and France using the MatchCentre. The blog is now closed.
Wednesday 19.20, Christian Châtelet, French UEFA.com office
Sabri Lamouchi is one of a seven-strong list of footballers to have played for both Marseille and Inter - a list that includes the likes of Laurent Blanc and Benoît Cauet - and speaking the French radio station RMC today, the former French international insisted Inter are "ill but not completely over", issuing a warning to OM's complacency. "
Wednesday 19.05, Matthew Spiro in Marseille
It has been a beautiful sunny day in Marseille, spring is in the air and there is a real sense of anticipation as the big kick-off approaches. Much like the weather, the mood at OM has picked up considerably since the last home match in this competition against Olympiacos FC in November. That night it looked as though the French club had blown their chances of progressing to the knockout stage, but they have experienced a radical turnaround.
Marseille are on a 15-match unbeaten run, have climbed to fourth in Ligue 1 and have reached the latter stages of both domestic cup competitions. The optimism in the town is palpable, portrayed by the hordes of locals proudly displaying the blue-and-white colours in the streets around Vieux Port.
Having said that, the wins secured by Italian clubs against English opposition recently have not gone unnoticed here. Everybody expects an improved Inter this evening and expects it to be tough for OM tonight, yet Didier Deschamps' galvanised side do not fear too many teams at the moment.
Wednesday 18.40, Sebastien Blanchard at Stade Vélodrome
One player who is relishing the prospect of UEFA Champions League action tonight is Inter's Diego Forlán, who was ineligible for the group stage. "I feel very good and I am happy to play again," the Uruguayan striker told the media ahead of tonight's match. "I hope that we will play well and we are going to use our experience to do just that. I am looking forward to this game and want to show what I am worth. I want to give a new momentum to this team. We will be ready to win."
His coach, Claudio Ranieri, echoed Forlán's sentiments. "In the league we are going through a negative phase, but this is the moment to react. I am expecting a very difficult match, a fight. However, I do not feel under threat or nervous. I am preparing this match with confidence."
Wednesday 18.15, Matthew Spiro in Marseille
Marseille defender Souleymane Diawara is looking forward to the challenge of marking Inter striker Diego Milito tonight. However, looking back at all of the top strikers he has faced in his UEFA Champions League career, the Senegalese stopper singled out Nicolas Anelka as the toughest - ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. "I'd rather take on Ronaldo," Diawara told L’Équipe. "Anelka goes everywhere. He’s always moving out of his zone. He’s a nightmare to mark."
Diawara believes Milito, meanwhile, possesses similar qualities to another formidable goalscorer Filippo Inzaghi, who netted twice for AC Milan at the Stade Vélodrome in 2009. "These are the most dangerous kind of strikers," he said. "You think they’ve switched off, then bang! Milito scores a lot in the box. We’ll have to be very careful."
Wednesday 18.05, Christian Châtelet, French UEFA.com office
Basel's Alexander Frei has said he will ask Franck Ribéry's shirt after tonight's game to Bayern. "The player I like [at Bayern] is Franck Ribéry," the Swiss striker told French newspaper L'Équipe on Wednesday. "I first played him when he was playing for Metz and I was with Rennes. After that our paths crossed quite often. We both speak French and exchange shirts regularly. Hopefully we can do that again after the game."
Wednesday 17.55, Sebastien Blanchard at Stade Vélodrome
The build-up has started here in sunny Marseille. The home fans are already here setting up their 'tifos' and there should be a good atmosphere. Having lost five out of their last six games, Inter really want a positive response tonight, but Marseille, who are doing well in the French Ligue 1, are playing for the advantage before the return game in Milan.
Wednesday 17.40, Christian Châtelet, French UEFA.com office
Ahead of his 47th encounter with Marseille in European competitions, 30-year-old midfielder Benoît Cheyrou spoke to La Provence and urged his team mates "to stick to doing things simply, especially against a team like Inter, who are above us in terms of experience."
Wednesday 17.25, Steffen Potter, UEFA.com German/Swiss office
The Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung intimates that a return to European competition for Bayern could help them to revive their form before the turn of the year. "Finally, Champions League again," it reads. "Bayern, heading towards a crisis, are hoping to rediscover the successful side that played the first half of this season when they return to the familiar rhythm of European weeks. It is their rhythm now again, Champions League rhythm."
Mario Gomez, also in Süddeutsche, said: "We will win only with 100% commitment, not with 90%, not with 95% and maybe not even with 96%. We will prevail against Basel if we perform to our potential." In Bild, David Alaba says: "We must not underestimate Basel. It is a young, ambitious squad which has eliminated Manchester United."
Wednesday 17.05, UEFA.com newsdesk
The UEFA.com MatchCentre opens in just over two hours, when our reporters – Andy James in Basle and Matthew Spiro in Marseille – will bring you all the latest news colour from the grounds. We will have live commentary, statistics, photos and video during the games, with reaction to follow soon after the final whistle. Video highlights will be available on UEFA.com from 00.00CET.
Wednesday 16.50, Sebastien Blanchard in Marseille
"Seize the chance" was the headline in French sports daily L'Équipe ahead of tonight's game at the Stade Vélodrome. Didier Deschamps is well aware of Inter's threat despite a bad patch of results in Serie A. "Inter have huge experience," he said. "This will not be the same Inter as in the league. This will be a very tough match and they are the favourites." Meanwhile, OM president Vincent Labrune has encouraged his players to be "cautious but ambitious" this evening.
Wednesday 16.35, Ben Gladwell at St. Jakob-Park
Bayern fans are already starting to arrive here ahead of their side's clash with Basel tonight. Many supporters are enjoying the spring-like sunshine on the steps leading up to the arena while, fortunately for them, the stadium is also home to one of the city's largest shopping precincts, allowing them to while away the remaining hours ahead of tonight's eagerly-anticipated 20.45CET kick-off.
Wednesday 16.05, Berend Scholten, UEFA.com Dutch office
Dutch daily De Telegraaf carries a feature entitled "Robben under magnifying glass at Bayern", which suggests that tonight marks a decisive juncture for the Netherlands forward, who has cut a peripheral figure at Bayern for much of 2011/12. "Robben has only two-and-a-half months to prepare for EURO 2012 and must demonstrate that he can play a decisive role for Bayern again," reads the piece.
"In the Champions League [group stage] he played for only 77 minutes for Bayern. If the domestic league had been a rosier story, the Dutchman could find satisfaction there, but most of the season he watched from the sidelines. The knockout phase of the Champions League also threatens to become the knockout period in this sad year of football for the Dutch international." He will hope that tonight can be a turning point, however.
Wednesday 15.40, Paolo Menicucci in Milan
In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Inter legend Sandro Mazzola recalls a European Cup game he played at the Stade Vélodrome, against AS Monaco FC in 1963/64. The Nerazzurri won 3-1. "Yes, but it was a battle," Mazzola said. "Two players were injured and there were no substitutions at the time. I was playing forward and scored two early goals but we were suffering so [Armando] Picchi, who was one of the two players injured, looked at me with lions' eyes and told me: 'Today you play like your father [Valentino Mazzola].'
"That's the spirit Ranieri's team need today to come out from this difficult period. However, I think the main problem is age. Many Inter players are not young and they struggle to play twice a week. However, in the UEFA Champions League there are not many games left and I think Inter could also go all the way in this competition."
Wednesday 15.20, Steffen Potter, UEFA.com German/Swiss office
Neue Zürcher Zeitung is full of praise for Basel in its preview of this evening's match, suggesting Heiko Vogel's team can reinforce its status as a pillar of Swiss football when they take on Bayern. "A team from Switzerland can hardly offer more," it reads. "FC Basel are an island in Swiss football, this has never been more evident than in recent times. Furthermore, it is Swiss players who are the cornerstone of Basel. This Basel are a special and a lucky case for themselves, and for all of Swiss football."
Wednesday 14.50, Pedro Gonçalves in Lisbon
Pontus Wernbloom may have quite rightly stolen the headlines in Moscow last night, but Cristiano Ronaldo has received plenty of attention in his homeland after opening the scoring with an away goal which could very well be crucial. "Cristiano Ronaldo opens the doors to the last eight," reports A Bola, which also recognises that last night's strike made Ronaldo Madrid's joint second highest scorer in the competition's history – the same as Fernando Morientes but "far from the 66 of Raúl [González]".
Wednesday 14.30, Matthew Spiro en route to Marseille
OM will be missing two key players later: defender Stéphane Mbia is absent due to a thigh injury while Loïc Rémy has a hamstring problem. Rémy's absence is difficult to compensate for, as Deschamps explained: "It's very important to have pace in attack and this is a quality Rémy has in abundance," the OM coach noted. There is little doubt Morgan Amalfitano, Mathieu Valbuena and André Ayew will play as attacking midfielders behind one striker; the question is who will be the centre forward?
Deschamps must choose between Brandão, who has scored five goals in seven appearances since returning from a loan spell in Brazil, and Jordan Ayew, who is yet to score in European competition. Brandão would offer the hosts strength and aerial prowess, but if Deschamps is looking for a speedy forward to replace Rémy then Ayew may get the nod.
Wednesday 14.10, Sujay Dutt in Stockholm
There has been quite a reaction in Sweden to the native Pontus Wernbloom's dramatic equaliser for CSKA last night. Dagens Nyheter opens its sports section on Wednesday with the headline: "Wernbloom 1-1 Ronaldo". The paper goes on to praise the Swedish international for his "resolute play and often perfect positioning in a defensive midfield role", but also describes Wernbloom as "a player who scares his opponents to death and also scores goals".
Wernbloom makes the front page of Sportbladet, alongside the headline: "Boom Boom Wernbloom". Expressen, meanwhile, calls Wernbloom's UEFA Champions League debut "a miracle in Moscow". According to their columnist "it was an ice-cold mission when a Swedish high pressure unexpectedly swept into Real Madrid's penalty area. Pontus Wernbloom gave CSKA Moskva the world's warmest minus temperatures."
Wernbloom himself, meanwhile, has always been an admirer of Madrid, making his last-gasp intervention all the more special. "Of course it was a thrill," he told Swedish television. "It was a dream come true. I've always wanted to play there but have realised that they'll never want me."
Wednesday 13.55, UEFA.com newsdesk
You can watch video highlights from both of Wednesday's games on UEFA.com until 00.00CET. Before then, from 19.15CET, the UEFA.com MatchCentre will have live commentary, statistics and photos from both of tonight's first legs. Our coverage of Manchester City versus Porto in the UEFA Europa League begins at 17.00CET.
Wednesday 13.40, Andy James en route to Basle
German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung features an extensive interview with Basel starlet Xherdan Shaqiri, who attracts plenty of focus ahead of tonight's game having agreed to join Bayern at the end of the season. Basel coach Heiko Vogel, who spent ten years working in Bayern's youth department, insists the diminutive 20-year-old is impervious to pressure and will not be fazed by facing his future employers.
Indeed Shaqiri, who expects to start on the right flank this evening, does appear to possess a confidence that belies his tender years. In a telephone conversation with future boss Jupp Heynckes this week, the stocky midfielder cheekily asked whether the Bayern coach would mind if he scored against them. Heynckes, almost half a century his senior, responded in kind: "I told him: 'Don't worry, we'll find a way to stop you'".
Wednesday 13.20, Tom Kell in London
Reaction to Chelsea's defeat in Naples has reflected the intense scrutiny which André Villas-Boas's team already found themselves under because of an indifferent campaign so far. "Andre Villas-Boas' beloved project went perilously close to going up completely in smoke on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius on Tuesday night," reports the Daily Telegraph. "It is not over, of course. Chelsea will still believe that they can recover on 14 March at Stamford Bridge but they must beware going gung-ho with Lavezzi and Cavani lurking."
Wednesday 13.05, Pavel Gognidze, UEFA.com Russian office
Wednesday's Sport-Express struck a balance between praising CSKA for last night's display and suggesting Madrid's below-par performance was a significant factor in the hosts securing a draw. "In a tussle of two unequal teams a weaker one will prove to be a foolish one, too, if it seriously has the aim of winning," it reads. "This is why Leonid Slutski said pre-match that not only do the Army Men have to do their best, but Madrid also have to be far from their own best. This equation worked only partly: Madrid did their part by being imperfect, but CSKA did not quite do theirs; however, they were close."
Wednesday 12.55, Sebastien Blanchard in Marseille
Claudio Ranieri showed little sign of feeling the strain when he spoke to the media yesterday, encouraging his team to relish the opportunity to reignite their season on such a big stage. "In the league we are going through a negative period," he said. "But we hope that the Champions League will help us to get better. It will be a fight. Personally, I do not feel under threat or nervous. I am preparing for this match with confidence. This team needs to be motivated to play big games, and tomorrow is a great occasion."
Wednesday 12.45, UEFA.com newsdesk
Napoli's progress in their debut UEFA Champions League season has been all the more impressive considering they were in a group containing FC Bayern München, Manchester City FC and Villarreal CF. They qualified just ahead of City, who take a 2-1 lead into tonight's UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against FC Porto. Samir Nasri told UEFA.com that such an advantage could cause the holders to approach the game in a manner with which they are unaccustomed.
UEFA.com has also had exclusive photo access to off-limits areas at UEFA Champions League; view our gallery to see what goes on behind closed doors in Europe's premier club competition.
Wednesday 12.30, Delfín Ramírez in Madrid
Newspaper AS focuses on last night's fateful final minute at the Stadion Luzhniki, which leaves the tie in the balance ahead of the return in the Spanish capital. "At 90 minutes, the objective was accomplished: winning in Luzhniki with few surprises, tie nearly over, another professional job," the paper reports. "However, the film does not end until the lights are turned on and someone sweeps the popcorn that is under your feet. Oblivion, distraction, confidence, impatience; all at once. The fact is that CSKA equalised before the credits."
Wednesday 12.10, Andy James en route to Basle
Hurtling through Bavaria on the first leg of the journey to Basle and there are a few noticeably quiet Bayern fans dotted around the train. They sit anxiously in the knowledge that tonight's round of 16 first leg could be significant in the club's quest for silverware this season, not to mention their dreams of competing in the UEFA Champions League final at their own Fußball Arena München on 19 May.
After failing to click in the weekend's 0-0 Bundesliga draw at SC Freiburg, Bayern need a catalyst and subsequently Bild suggests Netherlands winger Arjen Robben, recently nominated in UEFA.com's users' Team of the Year, could be set for a starting berth The 28-year-old has spent the last three games on the bench but tends to step up to the plate on the European stage.
His inclusion on the right would mean Toni Kroos drops back into defensive midfield alongside Luiz Gustavo, with David Alaba, who has struggled to convince as a replacement for the injured Bastian Schweinsteiger in recent weeks, dropping to the bench.
Wednesday 11.50, Matthew Spiro en route to Marseille
Marseille defender Souleymane Diawara is looking forward to the challenge of marking Inter striker Diego Milito tonight. Reflecting on all the top strikers he has faced in his UEFA Champions League career, the Senegalese international singled out Nicolas Anelka as the toughest, even ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. "I prefer to take on Ronaldo," Diawara told L'Equipe. "Anelka goes everywhere. He's always moving out of his zone; he's a nightmare to mark."
Diawara believes Milito, meanwhile, possesses similar qualities to another formidable goalscorer, Filippo Inzaghi, who netted twice for AC Milan at the Stade Vélodrome in 2009. "These are the most dangerous kind of strikers," he said. "You think they've switched off, then bang! Milito scores a lot in the box. We'll have to be very careful."
Wednesday 11.30, Vladimir Bogachov, UEFA.com Russian office
"José Mourinho officially hates red and blue now," says sports.ru after CSKA, decked in a strip not entirely dissimilar to Madrid's great rivals FC Barcelona, upset the odds on Tuesday. "The Army Men refused to stop believing," continued Sovetskiy Sport.
CSKA president Evegeni Giner, meanwhile, dared to believe that CSKA could succeed at the Santiago Bernabéu, drawing on the experience of when the club overcame Barcelona in the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League second round. "Why not?" Giner told Sport-Express. "We got a 1-1 draw in the first leg in 1992 and then beat them away 3-2. Why can't history repeat itself?"
Wednesday 11.10, Ben Gladwell in Basle
Bayern may not have been the side Basel wanted to meet in the last 16, but according to today's Basler Zeitung, the St. Jakob-Park will still be rocking tonight. Real Madrid CF, Chelsea FC or Arsenal FC were the fans' preferred choices after the Swiss champions dumped Manchester United FC out of the competition late last year, but "what was merely a muted joy back in mid-December will become fever pitch tonight".
Basel met Bayern twice in the group stage last season, which is why they pined for something new for their debut in the last 16. AC Milan or FC Barcelona may still visit the St. Jakob-Park this season, though, if Heiko Vogel's charges can send another of Europe's giants tumbling out of the competition.
Wednesday 10.50, UEFA.com newsdesk
Though Madrid were left disappointed by conceding a late equaliser in Moscow last night, midfielder Xabi Alonso is keen to draw on the positives. "It's not a bad result; we're confident enough of winning at home and going through to the next round," said the Spain midfielder. "There's another 90 minutes to come and we hope we'll get a good result. It's frustrating, because we were in control and probably deserved to have a better result. But credit to them, they kept fighting until the last minute."
Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis also felt a sense of frustration, meanwhile, despite his side's 3-1 triumph over Chelsea. "It is a good result but we are not fully happy because we could have added a fourth goal," he said. "A 3-0 or a 4-1 would have been a perfect result. We will travel to London with confidence but we know that players like Frank Lampard and Michael Essien could be in a better physical condition than today by then."
Wednesday 10.25, Paolo Menicucci in Milan
Gazzetta dello Sport focuses on Napoli's two goalscorers against Chelsea, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani. "Napoli sing with the two tenors," is the headline in the pink newspaper. "Extraordinary normality" were the two words used to describe another fine performance by the UEFA Champions League debutants.
Meanwhile, Naples-based newspaper Il Mattino described the celebrations of the Napoli fans packed into the Stadio San Paolo: "A triumph, an unforgettable night, no matter how the tie ends at Stamford Bridge. Will 3-1 be enough? Mazzarri's boys do not stop surprising, so the Napoli people have good reasons to believe.
"The fans at the stadium singing 'O surdato 'nnamurato' in celebration at the end of games are almost like a second Champions League anthem in Naples now. The enthusiasm of the people reflects the heart of a team looking to finish the job in London. It will be difficult but miracles can happen in football."
Wednesday 10.00, Christian Châtelet, UEFA.com French office
French local newspaper La Provence urges Marseille to make the most of Inter's recent slump in form – the Nerazzurri have lost five of their last six games in all competitions – when they visit the Stade Vélodrome tonight. "Inter embody respect, a certain idea of football and a trophy cabinet. So what? With this in mind, do we have to fear them? Not here. Not at home. Never."
Wednesday 09.45, Tom Kell in London
The Guardian opens with the assertion that "Chelsea's hopes of progressing into the quarter-finals are hanging by a thread". The English daily continues: "They played with a staggering lack of organisation and unless there is a dramatic improvement, they will almost certainly be eliminated. Chelsea's rearguard, with the untempered combination of David Luiz and Gary Cahill at its heart, were never up to coping with the combination of [Edinson] Cavani and [Ezequiel] Lavezzi."
Missing from that defence was captain John Terry, who the club last night confirmed is set to undergo knee surgery and will most likely be out for four to six weeks. Therefore certain to be without him for the second leg against Napoli, Chelsea can nevertheless still progress according to Petr Čech. "The away goal was important," said the Blues goalkeeper. "We will see in the second leg whether or not it makes a difference."
Wednesday 09.30, UEFA.com newsdesk
Last night provided a thrilling encounter in Naples, with SSC Napoli securing a 3-1 lead to take to Chelsea FC, while PFC CSKA Moskva struck with the last kick of the game to draw 1-1 with Real Madrid CF. We will bring you all the reaction in due course, as well as building up to this evening, when Olympique de Marseille take on FC Internazionale Milano and FC Bayern München go to FC Basel 1893.
I feel very good, I am happy to play again. I hope that we will play a good game and we are going to use our experience to do it. I am looking forward to this game in order to show what I am worth. I am relaxed and rested, I am ready to come back 100%. I want to give a new momentum to this team. We will be ready to win tomorrow.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.