Quarter-final, second leg, kick-off: 19:45 (BST)
Manchester United (1) v Chelsea (0)
Part two of the all-Premier League encounter between Manchester United and Chelsea, sees both managers confident of making progress to the semi-finals.
While Sir Alex Ferguson believes United have the “momentum” to protect their 1-0 advantage, Carlo Ancelotti is confident that Chelsea can overturn the deficit.
The United boss has hailed his side’s ability to keep their treble prospects on course despite a number of injuries.
“Momentum is key: it’s what keeps you from going off your stride,” said Ferguson. “Every game from this point on is like a cup final – the players thrive on that. In that respect I see similarities to 1999, but the circumstances are completely different as we didn’t have any injuries back then. We’ve coped very well this season, particularly with the injuries we’ve had in defensive positions.
“Having the likes of Anderson, Rio [Ferdinand], and [Antonio] Valencia back makes an incredible difference at this time of the season. They’re fresh and they know how to play for the club, so it’s not like signing new players as they don’t need time to adapt.
Wayne Rooney who missed Saturday’s 2-0 win over Fulham due to a domestic suspension, remains a key player for United.
“In the first leg, Wayne Rooney adapted very well to the role we asked him to play,” added Ferguson. “He had to combine partly defensive duties but with an attacking thrust, so in that respect he did very well and of course he put in a good performance. He is capable of causing problems no one else can. Balance, power, speed and a great tactical brain – the boy’s got everything.
“The competition is an obsession for [Chelsea]; that’s clearly why they signed Fernando Torres. Their owner nailed his colours to the mast in that respect a while ago. But it’s a very difficult competition to win as all the best teams are in there. Look at the amazing form of Barcelona and Real Madrid. It looks likely to be a semi-final between those two, which will be fantastic.”
The only real concerns for Ferguson are Darren Fletcher, who remains doubtful with a virus, and Rafael, who injured his knee in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.
Ancelotti, meanwhile, believes his players can find inspiration from last season’s Premier League victory over United at Old Trafford.
“We have good memories of [winning 2-1 at Old Trafford last season], but that’s history now,” he said. “We’ve already played 90 minutes of this tie; Manchester United played better than us and are 1-0 up, but we can still turn things around. We could have done better in the first leg but we didn’t deserve to lose.
“We’ve got a great chance of having a great game. I’m not afraid and not worried; I’m just happy to have the opportunity to play in games like this and use my skill to try and get the best out of my players. We’re not going to put strong pressure [on United] from the beginning as we know we need time to play our game and score. We need to be balanced as United are very dangerous on the counterattack.
Ancelotti, like Ferguson, identified Rooney as United’s most dangerous player.
“Rooney is their most dangerous player; we’ll have to watch out for his movement and ability,” he said. “He got the better of us last time out, but we won’t be changing our game or our football to cope with Rooney.
“The Champions League is not an obsession, it’s a dream. We’re going to play in a quarter-final and we’ve got the chance to reach the final in three games, as do United.
That memory [of losing the 2008 final to United] could be a good motivation for everyone. In football, you always get a chance to get revenge and hopefully we can take good memories away from here tomorrow.”
Following the return from long-term injury of Yossi Benayoun and Alex for Saturday’s 1-0 win against Wigan Athletic FC, Ancelotti boasts a full complement of players to choose from for the first time this season.