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Real Madrid and Bayern Munich look to enforce dominance
Published : 09 Apr 2013 05:47:03Rss feed
Spanish and German heavyweights will go into the Champions League quarter-final, second legs this week aiming to ensure that no surprise package makes it into the final four.
It has left the competition with a feeling of impending inevitability as the continent's powerhouses flex their muscles.
Madrid probably have already more than a foot in the semi-finals having romped to a 3-0 win at home to rank outsiders Galatasaray last week.
Even so, coach Jose Mourinho insisted immediately afterwards that he would not be taking the second leg lightly.
"I have enough experience to know we have a very good result and will try everything to convince my players that it is not over and try to play with the same mentality (in the second leg)," he said.
Bayern are in a similarly positive position having beaten Juventus 2-0 in Munich, although they have a smaller lead than Real against arguably more accomplished opponents.
They will also be wary of a repeat of their last 16 woes when they only sneaked through on away goals despite having won their first leg against Arsenal 3-1 in London.
However, having sealed a 23rd German title in record time on Saturday, coach Jupp Heynckes believes that success can give them the boost needed to get the job done in Turin.
"We can be confident we will achieve something in the Champions League," he said.
The other two matches are more finely poised, particularly the clash between Borussia Dortmund and Malaga, following a 0-0 draw in Andalusia.
It could have been better for Dortmund, and in particular Mario Goetze, who had three good first half chances to give the Germans an advantage.
Even so, coach Jurgen Klopp was satisfied with the result, although it leaves the now-deposed German title holders vulnerable to a Malaga away goal.
"I can live with this 0-0. We did everything well from the first kick to the final whistle but it's a higher level," he said after the away tie.
"We know what we have to do in the return match."
The real crunch clash comes in Catalonia where Barcelona will host big-spending Paris Saint-Germain following a 2-2 draw in the French capital last Tuesday.
While it's finely poised, Barcelona are still clear favourites and they have been raising the temperature since the last encounter, complaining about the refereeing.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal for PSG in the first leg was clearly offside but the officials missed it.
"It is not possible that they cannot see someone is two metres offside. We are not slow or stupid. I am not going to put on a brave face like other people do," moaned Brazil fullback Dani Alves, who said his side must try harder to influence the man in the middle.
"Protests influence the refereeing," he added. "Sometimes we are too good and because of this these type of things happen.
"We need to have a little more nastiness when it comes to protesting, if we don't they treat you as if you are stupid."
PSG's preparation has not been entirely without incident as coach Carlo Ancelotti has had to deny press claims the club's Qatari owners ordered him to play David Beckham in the first leg.
Ancelotti is also sweating on the fitness of Brazil centre-back Thiago Silva, who was immense in the first leg, although that is offset by the possibility that Barca will be without four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.
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