French clubs Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseille will attempt to spring major upsets in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 this week after clinching first-leg draws against Real Madrid CF and Manchester United FC respectively.
Marseille may feel they have the better chance having prevented Sir Alex Ferguson's men from scoring in the goalless stalemate at the Stade Vélodrome, although Lyon's superb record against Madrid suggests the nine-time winners will be pushed hard at the Santiago Bernabéu. Bafétimbi Gomis's late equaliser at the Stade de Gerland earned the Ligue 1 team a 1-1 draw and extended OL's unbeaten sequence against the Spanish giants to seven games. It was, however, the first time Les Gones had failed to win in four home meetings with the Merengues.
Both sides will be missing key players for the Madrid-Lyon return fixture on Wednesday: Michel Bastos is suspended for the visitors while José Mourinho must do without the injured Kaká and Sami Khedira. Cristiano Ronaldo is also struggling to be fit. Lyon can at least count on forward Lisandro, who marked his return to form and fitness with a hat-trick against AC Arles-Avignon on 6 March.
OM also welcome back two key figures with striker André-Pierre Gignac and playmaker Mathieu Valbuena in line to start at Old Trafford on Tuesday. The hosts' Nani may have been ruled out, yet United's home record is so formidable this season the Premier League leaders will be confident of success: United have not lost a single fixture in front of their supporters, either in domestic or in European football.
Also on Tuesday, FC Bayern München will bid to eliminate FC Internazionale Milano in a repeat of last year's final. Mario Gomez's last-gasp strike at the San Siro has thrust Louis van Gaal's charges into the box seat, giving the holders the daunting task of trying to become only the second team in UEFA Champions League history to progress after losing the first leg at home. Both AS Roma and AC Milan failed in their efforts to do so last week, making Leonardo's side Serie A's only remaining survivors in European competition.
If Inter's prospects are bleak, FC København's appear even more miserable after they lost 2-0 at home to Chelsea FC. Although the English double winners have recently closed the gap on United in the Premier League, Europe still represents their best opportunity of silverware and they will be keen to maintain a 100% home run in the tournament.
What do you think? Are the holders on their way out? Do the French clubs have a chance? Are København merely playing for pride? Have your say on this week's second legs.
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