Quarter-final, first leg – Kick-off: 19:45 (BST)
Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex Ferguson have both played down the significance of Manchester United’s victory against Chelsea in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final as their sides prepare to meet again in this season’s quarter-finals.
Although Ancelotti acknowledged that victory in the tie would be a significant moment in the “history” of his club, he conceded that nothing will be decided tonight.
“We have to play 180 minutes so obviously we want to start well, but everything will be settled at Old Trafford,” he said. “Nothing will be decided tonight. It’ll be different playing United in the Champions League. We have very good confidence and are concentrated. We want to reach the semi-final if possible; if we play better than United we can do that.
“[The 2008 final] is the past and doesn’t matter. I have a good record against United but we want to focus on the next game and that will be a different story. We’re in good shape. We have to play against a fantastic team, but we have the confidence to do our best.
“For many years Chelsea have been very close to winning the Champions League and they have the players to win it. Unfortunately they were not good at those moments, but hopefully this season we will have better luck.
“The Champions League is not an obsession; it is the most important competition in the world and it’s fantastic. I told my players that we have to be happy because every player and manager in the world wants to be involved in matches like this. You have to be happy to have that chance but you want to win also. This type of game can grow your history as a club, so it’s important we progress.”
Alex has been out with a knee injury since 28 November, but Israeli Yossi Benayoun is available again after recovering from a torn Achilles suffered shortly after he joined the club in September.
Meanwhile, United boss Ferguson is aiming to take the initiative ahead of next week’s return at Old Trafford.
“We had a two-legged game against Arsenal two years ago, which was the first time we’ve seen [an all-English tie] and we tried to approach it in the way we usually would away from home in Europe,” he said.
“This is different because we’re away first, but the name of the game is to hopefully go back to Old Trafford with a goal or two in our pocket. It won’t change our attitude in trying to win the match, but we want to make sure we go back there with a great chance of qualifying. If we get some advantage we’ll be very difficult to beat on our own ground.
“I was very happy to get the second leg at home, it will be a quite magnificent atmosphere and the fans will be really up for it. When Old Trafford’s like that it’s a wonderful place to be. Hopefully we’ll go back with something to defend, but we keep making amazing things happen there.
“The Champions League is definitely [Chelsea]’s driving force, so it will be a difficult game. We used to have a fantastic record in London. The last few years have been poor, but we’ve played well mostly and we need to work on getting that record back, starting here.
“Moscow was a really good final. Penalties is always a sore one for the team that loses, but when you win a European final you don’t care how you do it; winning means everything, you’ve gone so far and through so many moments of emotion to get there. It was a great achievement for our club because it was the third time we’d won it.
“I don’t believe players think about revenge. The motivation to win this game is greater than thinking about a match three years ago.”
Park Ji-Sung and Michael Owen are fit again and Ferguson confirmed that Jonny Evans, John O’Shea, Rafael and Wes Brown are also available. However, after a week’s training, Rio Ferdinand is not expected to return after two months out. Wayne Rooney sat out training on Tuesday with a sore shin, but he is expected to play.