United, Chelsea, Others Chase S/Final Tickets

The UEFA Champions League quarter-finals conclude this week with only Real Madrid able to breathe easily ahead of their return encounter.

The Spanish giants swept aside Borussia Dortmund 3-0 in the first leg and now stand firmly on the verge of the last four, with statistics suggesting they boast a 93.8 per cent chance of advancing.
Paris Saint-Germain also scored three goals at home as they saw off Chelsea 3-1 and they too will be confident of going through, with past European results pointing to a 75.8 per cent chance of progress.

As for Manchester United and Barcelona, who posted 1-1 away draws with respective rivals Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, both will feel more optimistic of progressing than the 25.5 per cent success rate indicated by the history books.
The encounter between Bayern Munich and Manchester United at the Allianz Arena in Munich on 9 April is a tough match.
Manchester United made eight changes to their line-up on Saturday as they downed Newcastle United 4-0 to notch a fourth consecutive English Premier League away win without conceding.

That contrasted with events in Germany, where Bayern lost for the first time in 54 German Bundesliga outings in a 1-0 defeat at Augsburg.
Of course, Josep Guardiola’s side wrapped up the German title two weeks ago, but the European champions face a number of selection issues and will need to shuffle their midfield options for United’s visit, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez both suspended and Thiago Alcantara missing through injury.
Bayern have qualified each of the 11 times they have opened a European tie with a 1-1 away draw, but they have also failed to win their last four home games against English clubs.

That suggests this contest remains thrillingly open, especially as United have gone through on four of the six occasions they have kicked off with a 1-1 home draw in Europe.

Chelsea and PSG both warmed up for their Stamford Bridge showdown in similar fashion, recording comfortable 3-0 wins despite a raft of personnel changes.

In the case of the Blues, that meant taking apart Stoke City to end a run of two consecutive defeats and extend their unbeaten home record under Jose Mourinho to 77 matches.
As for PSG, who will be without injured talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they rested eight players but still made light work of Reims. The French hopefuls have now scored in their last 24 Ligue 1 assignments and, more significantly, they have also found the net in their last 17 Champions League fixtures.

That could prove telling against a Chelsea side obliged to take risks to wipe out their two-goal deficit – a feat the Londoners have only achieved once before, winning 4-1 after extra time against Napoli following a 3-1 away loss in the 2011/12 round of 16.
Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid are set to cross paths for the sixth time in less than 18 months, these two teams know each other inside out by now.

The tables have turned since their semi-final joust last term, however, and Madrid have no intention of letting complacency jeopardise their progress. Indeed, eight times Los Merengues have won a first leg 3-0 in Europe and eight times they have sailed through into the next round.
For Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, despite a markedly thinner squad than their rivals, Atletico remain on top of the pile in the Spanish La Liga following Saturday’s slender 1-0 success against Villarreal.

It was a vital win, but what stood out more than the result was the sight of Diego Simeone in animated mood on the touchline, the Rojiblancos coach repeatedly trying to whip the crowd into a frenzy and coax a little more energy from his exhausted players.
The former Argentinian international has become more crucial than ever to the capital outfit, who will take on a Barcelona team far from their fluent best in their 3-1 weekend win against bottom club Real Betis, a match decided by a pair of Lionel Messi penalties plus a Jordi Figueras own goal.

Barça will also be missing both their regular centre-backs and goalkeeper Victor Valdes through injury, and although Atletico have not won in the last ten meetings between the sides, their supporters sense that their time has come.


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