Time for Chelsea to avenge 2008 Champions League loss
Chelsea must avenge their 2008 Champions League final defeat by Manchester United or face a trophyless season if they lose the all-English quarter-final which starts at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday (1845 GMT).
Defeat for Chelsea, 11 points behind United in the Premier League title race with eight games to play, would put manager Carlo Ancelotti under huge pressure less than a year after he led the team to a league and FA Cup double.
The Italian knows his future is on a knife-edge after an uneven season and recent history between the two clubs suggests that the Champions League tie, which concludes at Old Trafford next Tuesday, will be decided by the slimmest of margins.
Image: Carlo Ancelotti
Chelsea's frontline has lacked venom
Only two of their last 11 competitive matches have been settled by more than one goal, while their most famous meeting, the Champions League final in Moscow, went to penalties.
Chelsea go into the match with a good record at home against United. They are unbeaten in their last 10 matches against Alex Ferguson's men, including last month's Premier League game when they came from behind to win 2-1 with a goal from David Luiz and a Frank Lampard penalty.
Chelsea's front men, however, have been lacklustre with Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou and Fernando Torres scoring just three goals in their last nine matches.
Image: Didier Drogba
Torres could start on the bench
Torres, two months after his 50 million-pound ($80.81-million) move from Liverpool, is still looking for his first goal for Chelsea after eight appearances, and might start on the bench.
Chelsea drew 1-1 at Stoke City on Saturday, though they played better than the result suggested, and Ancelotti is looking forward to Wednesday's game.
"The condition of the players is good psychologically and physically. We don't have any problems and we are ready to play United. We have the confidence to do our best and win," he said.
"We know that United have the same opinion. It will be a very exciting game, a very tough game. We know everything about Manchester United and they know everything about us. Whoever deserves to win, will win."
Image: Fernando Torres
'Going into Wednesday's game with a lot of confidence'
United recovered from trailing 2-0 to win 4-2 at West Ham United where Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick and Javier Hernandez the other goal.
Rooney blotted his performance by a foul-mouthed rant live on television, for which he has been charged by the FA, but he will play on Wednesday and look to repeat the goal he scored in the league match at Chelsea last month.
Saturday's victory at West Ham left United seven points clear of Arsenal at the top of the table.
Defender Chris Smalling, whose trip on Yuri Zhirkov led to the penalty that cost United the league game at Stamford Bridge, said the mood in Manchester was confident.
"Those things happen in your career...and it's important how you react, and we've kicked on with our performances. We're now going into Wednesday's game with a lot of confidence -- and so we should."
Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 3-Ashley Cole, 26-John Terry, 33-Alex, 17-Jose Bosingwa; 7-Ramires, 8-Frank Lampard, 5-Michael Essien, 15-Florent Malouda; 11-Didier Drogba, 39-Nicolas Anelka
Manchester United: 1-Edwin Van der Sar; 2-Fabio da Silva, 15-Nemanja Vidic, 12-Chris Smalling, 3-Patrice Evra, 25-Antonio Valencia, 16-Michael Carrick, 18-Paul Scholes, 11-Ryan Giggs, 17-Nani 10-Wayne Rooney.
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain).
Image: Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung at training
Villa eyeing end to goal drought against Shakhtar
Barcelona striker David Villa has the ideal stage to end an unusual goal drought when the 2009 winners host Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League quarter-final, first leg on Wednesday.
Villa became Spain's leading scorer when he netted his 45th and 46th goals for the world and European champions against Czech Republic last month, but last found the net for his club against Real Mallorca on Feb. 26, a barren run of six games.
"You always get a bit worried when you aren't scoring but you have to stay calm," Villa told a news conference on Monday.
"I know it's been a while since I scored, but the only way to put that behind me is to work hard in training and on the pitch," the 29-year-old added.
Image: Barcelona's David Villa
Messi skips training
Barca coach Pep Guardiola is likely to have fit-again forward Pedro and fullback Maxwell available for the clash at the Nou Camp as the Spanish champions eye a possible semi-final against great rivals Real Madrid.
The pair trained at the same pace as their team mates on Monday, Barca said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.cat). However, captain and central defender Carles Puyol, who has a knee injury, is yet to rejoin the group.
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, joint top scorer in this year's edition of Europe's elite club competition with eight goals, did not train as a precaution after an injury scare on duty with Argentina.
Image: Lionel Messi
'We have to try and get a good result in the second leg'
Barca are on a high after stretching their lead over Real at the top of La Liga to eight points at the weekend with eight games left.
Barca need to be careful of complacency after Saturday's 1-0 win at Villarreal and focus fully on the Shakhtar match, Villa said.
"When you come into a game after losing or drawing everyone knows you have to put it behind you and concentrate on the next match, but the same thing holds true if you've just won.
"Now we have to try and play well, win and get a good result for the second leg."
Shakhtar, who recorded a shock 3-2 win at the Nou Camp in December 2008 before Barca went on to win the final, have defensive problems.
Image: David Villa
'It would be perfect to score in Barcelona'
Centre back Dmytro Chygrynskiy, who had an unsuccessful spell at Barca last season, is struggling to recover from a minor injury picked up two weeks ago but could make the starting lineup.
His defensive partner Olexandr Kucher is definitely out and has travelled to Barcelona only for a consultation on his injured knee.
However, influential Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho is back in action after seven months out with a knee problem and played the whole of Shakhtar's 3-1 win away to FC Ilichivets Mariupol on Friday.
"Now I am ready to play all 90 minutes. In fact, the whole team are ready," Fernandinho said.
"It is the most important game for us because we have reached the quarter-finals for the first time," he added. "It would be perfect to score in Barcelona."
Shakhtar are in the last eight for the first time.
Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 2-Daniel Alves, 3-Gerard Pique, 16-Sergio Busquets, 21-Adriano Correia; 6-Xavi, 14-Javier Mascherano, 8-Andres Iniesta; 17-Pedro, 10-Lionel Messi, 7-David Villa.
Shakhtar Donetsk: 30-Andriy Pyatov; 33-Darijo Srna, 27-Dmytro Chygrynskiy, 44-Yaroslav Rakitskiy, 26-Razvan Rat; 3-Tomas Hubschman; 20-Douglas Costa, 8-Jadson, 10-Willian; 22-Henrik Mkhitaryan, 9-Luiz Adriano.
Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland).
Image: Shakhtar Donetsk's Willian (right) and Darijo Srna