Two teams are edging closer to the Champions League final in Wembley. Manchester United and Barcelona both defeated Schalke and Real Madrid respectively but don´t write off any team just yet. We all know football can sometimes be a funny ol´game.
Football El Mundo is writing from the sunny climate of Barcelona today where I´ll be witnessing first-hand el gran clasico. Confidence is high in the Barça camp. Pep Guardiola will be praising the the return of Eric Abidal after he had a tumour removed from his liver recently. Andres Iniesta is also in the squad having recovered from a calf strain that kept him out for the past week. Madrid come to Catalunya today without defenders Pepe and Sergio Ramos who are both suspended. This is a huge blow for The Special One who, according to Spanish newspaper reports, is fighting for his job. Los Blancos today have returned 3,200 of their 4,687 allocation for tonight – which makes one wonder how confident Madridistas are. Let´s hope we don´t get a repeat of some of last week´s antics and get to see some great football (and I´m personally hoping it doesn´t rain as I didn´t bring a coat with me).
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Manchester United host a relatively inferior side tonight at Old Trafford and go into the game with a two goal cushion. Sir Alex´s men will be looking to make the tie as one-sided as the first leg. The two away goals for United would make it appear as job done. But Ralf Rangick’s men have had some admirable moments in this seasons Champions League. Yes, beating United 3-0 tonight would be unlikely. But as I said: football can sometimes be a funny ol´game. Just ask AC Milan fans who witnessed the Champions League final in 2005. Fergie is set to make some changes with bringing Scholes, Berbatov and Owen back in. The Red Devils will be looking for an early goal to effectively kill off the tie and Schalke know this – even if they have the brilliant (and Manchester United target) Manuel Neuer as their last line in defence. Being the biggest fixture in European world football, el clasico will over-shadow this tie, but I reckon this game will probably see the better football.
Wembley awaits. Which of the four will be there later this month? Tonight we shall see.