FC Girondins de Bordeaux look, on paper at least, the team with most work to do in the second instalment of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, but try telling that to Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger.
Though Bordeaux, trailing 3-1 to Ligue 1 rivals Olympique Lyonnais, must try to become the first side to undo a two-goal deficit in the competition in six years on Wednesday, Arsenal will face their own tall order to reach the semi-finals when they visit holders FC Barcelona 24 hours earlier.
The Gunners' heads were spinning after spending the first half of the sides' 2-2 draw in London mesmerised by Barcelona's 'passing carousel', with even Wenger admitting they were "comprehensively outplayed". Yet he took heart from their subsequent fightback from two goals down and Barcelona, winless against English opposition in five matches at the Camp Nou, will be missing suspended central defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué. That said, Wenger has his own selection concerns with Cesc Fàbregas, William Gallas and Andrey Arshavin all injured.
CSKA will look to overturn their 1-0 loss against FC Internazionale Milano in Tuesday's other tie but will not be helped by suspensions to Miloš Krasić and Evgeni Aldonin. "Their absence is a big blow," admitted goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, whose team could yet become the first Russian side since FC Spartak Moskva in 1991 to reach the last four. Inter will travel to Moscow as favourites thanks to Diego Milito's winner in Milan and will be glad to welcome back from suspension Lucio and Thiago Motta, two players with important defensive roles.
Recent history favours all the teams holding a lead as only once in the last three campaigns, 2009/10 included, has a side recovered after losing the first leg in a UEFA Champions League knockout tie. For Manchester United FC, the absence of inspirational striker Wayne Rooney will not help their prospects of bouncing back from the last-gasp Ivica Olić goal that earned FC Bayern München a 2-1 advantage at the midway point of their last-eight contest.
Bayern have other reasons to believe they can reach a first semi-final since 2001, with Bastian Schweinsteiger available following suspension and Arjen Robben likely to be fit for Wednesday's match at Old Trafford, where they have avoided defeat in all three previous visits. "We have a chance to succeed in Manchester as we are always capable of scoring away from home," said coach Louis van Gaal.
Finally, back to Bordeaux and the conclusion of their all-French contest with Lyon. Laurent Blanc's men boast a 100% home record in Europe this term and can draw encouragement from the fact that Lyon will be without the suspended Lisandro, scorer of two first-leg goals, and Sidney Govou, while Alou Diarra returns for Les Marine et Blanc. Bordeaux also have a French precedent: the last team to retrieve a two-goal deficit in the competition were AS Monaco FC against Real Madrid CF at this stage in 2003/04. Claude Puel, Lyon's coach, is wisely taking nothing for granted. "The second leg is open. I know how good they are."
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