New dad Messi out to wreck Chelsea’s Champions League dream

Mar 12, 2018, 11:54 AM

By Thursday morning we will know the quarter-final line-up for the Uefa Champions League. Four teams are already confirmed: Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester City and Liverpool – and we may as well add Bayern Munich to that list given that they hold a 5-0 advantage over Beskitas ahead of their last-16 return leg on Wednesday – have their names in the hat, but who will join them?

For Roma, the task of securing a berth in the last eight for the first time since 2008 will mean overcoming a Shakhtar Donetsk side who “play more like a Brazilian team than a Ukrainian one”, according to Eusebio di Francesco. The Italian club trail 2-1 from the first leg as the sides head to Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.

Manchester United will hope David de Gea is a little less busier than he was at the Sanchez Pizjuan last month when they host Sevilla in the return leg. The Spanish goalkeeper pulled off a string of fine saves to deny Sevilla in that match, with the game at Old Trafford on Tuesday delicately poised at 0-0.

The most eagerly anticipated match of the week though will be played out in Spain as Barcelona take on Chelsea at the Camp Nou.

Star forward Lionel Messi returns after sitting out the weekend’s victory over Malaga to attend the birth of his son Ciro. His goal in the first leg at Stamford Bridge was his first against the English club in nine previous attempts.

With Barca holding the advantage of an away goal, it remains to be seen what line-up Antonio Conte will field against the Spanish league leaders and how he will deploy his own talisman Eden Hazard with Chelsea needing to score at Camp Nou.

European football correspondent Ian Hawkey joins host Steve Luckings on the phone to discuss the respective match-ups.