Quarter-finals to provide more drama

Four more sides are in UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg action tonight.

Both Liverpool FC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen will be hoping to emulate Tuesday's achievements of their fellow countrymen when they meet in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg tonight at Anfield.

United set the standard
Liverpool's fellow Premiership contenders, Manchester United FC, beat RC Deportivo La Coruña 2-0 away and were in sparkling form, as they swept aside the much-fancied Spanish club with goals from David Beckham and Ruud Van Nistelrooij - Liverpool would settle for a similar result at home against the German 1. Bundesliga leaders.

Resilient Bayern
However, Leverkusen will be aiming to show similar resilience to that displayed by their German title rivals, FC Bayern München, who came from behind to beat Real Madrid CF 2-1 in their Olympiastadion with two late goals in their first-leg tie. Steffen Effenberg missed a penalty for the hosts 18 minutes from time but made amends by scoring an equaliser ten minutes later before the substitute Claudio Pizarro completed the recovery with an 88th-minute winner.

Liverpool on a roll
Liverpool are on a roll domestically having won nine out of their last ten league games and with the return to first-team duties of their inspirational manager Gérard Houllier giving the club an added boost they will start as favourites. However, Leverkusen on their night can cause problems to the best teams as Deportivo - albeit a below strength Deportivo - found out in the final second group stage game when they were beaten 3-1 at home by Klaus Toppmöller's side. On the flip side, though, Leverkusen can be made to look ordinary as Arsenal FC proved at Highbury in February when they tore the German side apart to win 4-1.

Gerrard and Heskey fit
Liverpool's England internationals, Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey, both look likely to play a part in the match after recovering from groin and foot injuries respectively.

No Nowotny
Leverkusen on the other hand will be without their influential captain Jens Nowotny through suspension and could be forced to move the high-scoring Michael Ballack, who has scored 15 goals from midfield this season, back to defence. Thomas Brdaric may start in attack alongside Oliver Neuville with Ulf Kirsten, who scored after just 12 seconds in the 1. Bundesliga 4-2 win over FC Kaiserslautern, dropping to the bench.

Rivaldo's return
In tonight's other quarter-final FC Barcelona travel to Panathinaikos FC as overwhelming favourites despite the Catalan club's poor run in the Primera División. To further strengthen their chances, Barcelona welcome back their mercurial midfielder Rivaldo after injury while Fabio Rochemback and Marc Overmars are also back in the squad after shaking off minor knocks. The only disappointment for Barça is the suspension of Luís Enrique but they have enough strength in depth not to miss their captain too much.

Patchy form
Despite Barcelona finishing first in both their Champions League qualifying groups their form this season has been patchy and Panathinaikos will be hoping to catch them cold. They will have to do so without Giorgios Karagounis, however, who is banned and will be replaced by the Argentinian Fernando Galetto. The Greek club will also be hoping Sotiris Kyrgiakos passes a late fitness test after injuring his knee in Sunday's 2-2 draw with FC PAOK Thessaloniki.

Disappointing domestic form
Panathinaikos are, like Barça, having a disappointing domestic season and are all but out of contention for the title and a solid performance that gives them a chance come the second leg against a side with such a star-studded line up as Barcelona's would go some way to appease their fans.