The UEFA cup quarter-finals will be concluded tonight with all of the games finely balanced.
The game of the evening is sure to be so-called The Battle of Britain between Liverpool and Celtic. After a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park, Liverpool are in the driving seat at Anfield tonight. The first leg saw John Hartson firing Celtic into an early lead only for the in-form Emile Heskey to equalize minutes later.
Missing out for Liverpool will be Senegalese forward El Hadji Diouf who will be rested by Houllier following the spitting incident at Celtic in the first leg.
Celtic were dealt a blow last week when Chris Sutton was ruled out for 6 weeks due to a broken wrist.
Henrik Larsson has said the Celtic players must put lasst weekend’s defeat by Rangers at the weekend behind them and put everything into beating Liverpool.
“Everybody is disappointed by the result against Rangers, but we cannot dwell on it as we have a very important match against Liverpool,” said the Swedish striker.
“We know we have to go to Anfield and get a result.”
Portuguese league leaders Porto are aiming to become the first Portuguese club to lift the UEFA cup but will find Panathinaikos tough opposition in Greece tonight.
The first leg in Portugal ended in a 1-0 win to the Greek side with Emmanuel Olisadebe solitary goal enough for victory.
With teams such as Arsenal and Barcelona having been beaten at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium in the last few years, Porto’s task will be a difficult one. With Porto missing key players Pedro Emanuel, Nuno Valente and Cesar Peixoto that task will be all the more difficult.
Out for Panathinaikos will be Captain Angelos Basinas, who is injured, Pantelis Konstantinidis, Erik Lincar or Giannis Goumas will replace him.
Joint favourites for the UEFA cup, Lazio, face Besiktas tonight in the Inonu stadium in Turkey.
With a 1-0 advantage from the first leg, the in-form Italian team are expected to progress to the semi-finals. They will however be without first leg goal scorer Simone Inzaghi who is suffering with flu. This will leave Lazio with Claudio Lopez and Enrico Chiesa leading the line. Otherwise the Serie A side should be at full strength.
Besiktas will miss suspended defender Carlos Zago. Back for the Turks will be Pascal Nouma and Ibrahim Uzukmez who have been out injured. Tumar Metin and Bayram Bektas will also be out but coach Lucescu remains confident.
“We have eliminated some very strong teams,” said the Romanian.
“Now we want to go one better than that.”
The last game of the quarter-finals pairs Portuguese side Boavista with Spanish outfit Malaga. With the first leg ending 1-0 to the Spaniards with Julio Dely Valdes scoring the only goal, there is all to play for at the Do Bessa in Porto.
Boavista will welcome back strikers Elpideo Silva and Luiz Claudio as well as Pedro Santos and Filipe Anunciacao. Right-back Rui Oscar is suspended and central defender Fernando Avalos is also missing through suspension. Playmaker Erwin Sanchez is still out with serious cruciate ligament damage.
Malaga, who have won at Leeds United and AEK Athens in the earlier rounds, will go to Boavista with no fear.
The Spanish team will be without Vicente Valcarce and Gerardo Garcia through injury and Marcelo Romero who is suspended. This will give coach Joaquin Peiro the chance to use youth players Nacho Perez, Juanito and Raul Iznata, who have been drafted into the squad.
Peiro believes a goal will be vital if his team are to progress.
“A goal will be vital to our chances, he said.
“We only have a slight advantage. Two years ago Boavista won the league and this season they have also played in the Champions League. We are worried about that.”