The UEFA Champions League drama continues with two more quarter-finals at Stamford Bridge and the San Siro.
Making a spectacle
As attention turns from the football cities of Liverpool and Lyon to the fashion capitals of London and Milan, the onus will be on Chelsea FC and FC Bayern München, AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano to provide the sort of show witnessed at Anfield last night.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge would happily accept the same result (a 2-1 home win for Liverpool FC) against Chelsea. "As long as we score, we could even afford to lose - although a draw would be fantastic," he said. However, the fitness concerns surrounding key forward Roy Makaay are obstacles in the way of Bayern's hunt for an away goal.
Chelsea's defences have been breached just eleven times in 31 domestic league games, yet they have conceded seven goals already in the Champions League and have long-term injuries to defenders Paulo Ferreira and Wayne Bridge. Coach José Mourinho will also be absent but his assistant Baltermar Brito predicts that, as with last night's matches, the ties will be won next week not this. "It's going to be a good game but the most important part of the tie will be the second leg not the first."
That was the case the last time AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano met in this competition, in the 2002/03 semi-finals, when the first leg finished 0-0. Here, they lock horns in a bid to reach that stage, but Inter's prospects of avenging their away goals defeat two seasons ago are hindered by the loss to injury of star striker Adriano.
By contrast, Milan should field a front pairing of Andriy Shevchenko and Hernán Crespo that promises goals, but Inter coach Roberto Mancini expects the derby to be a typically tense affair. "It will be a derby like any other, I cannot see any difference. If there is, I hope it will work in our favour."
His opposite number, Carlo Ancelotti, looked beyond local horizons to say of a campaign which sees three Serie A clubs vying for the European crown: "Two years ago, Italian football showed certain qualities which made it successful in Europe. This cycle may now be repeating itself."