Chelsea go to Old Trafford for the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg against Manchester United on Tuesday having to overcome a one goal deficit to keep alive any hopes of winning silverware this season.
Carlo Ancelotti led the Blues to the Premier League title and FA Cup double in his first season in charge, but looking too far adrift in this season’s title race and having made little progress in the FA Cup and Carling Cup before being knocked out, the Champions League is the last hope of winning a trophy.
United, on the other hand, are flying high with a seven point lead at the top of the Premier League, an FA Cup semi final at Wembley this weekend in addition to having the edge on Chelsea at this stage of the Champions League. In Manchester, hopes are rising of a repeat of the 1998-99 season when Sir Alex Ferguson led the Red Devils to an unprecedented treble, Totesport is offering odds of 19/2 for United to win the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.
Ferguson has only one injury concern ahead of an expected tense battle, Brazilian full-back Rafael is back training after being carried off in the 1-0 first-leg win at Stamford Bridge last week. “There is a little doubt and it is not something I want to be risking in a major game,” said Ferguson of the 20-year-old on Monday. “He really has to do something special tomorrow morning to change my mind about it.”
John O’Shea is ready to replace Rafael if needed, he showed he has fully recovered from a hamstring injury when featuring in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Fulham at Old Trafford.
Rio Ferdinand delighted his manager in the first leg and despite missing Saturday’s game is expected to start, as will Wayne Rooney who was serving a suspension at the weekend. Rooney scored the winner in the first leg and can be backed at odds of 21/4 with Unibet to be first scorer again in the second leg.
Ancelotti has a fully-fit squad to choose from after Yossi Banayoun and Alex made their comebacks in the 1-0 win against Wigan at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Benayoun linked up well with Fernando Torres when coming on to play 45 minutes and is likely to start on the bench on Tuesday. “I am not ready to play 90 minutes but I will give everything for as long as I can if the manager wants me,” the Israeli international told Chelsea’s official website.
Online bookmakers Boylesports and Unibet are offering odds of 13/5 for Chelsea to qualify for the Champions League semi final. The Blues will probably have to find at least two goals to progress and with Didier Drogba and Torres firing blanks, penalty taker Frank Lampard could represent he best chance of finding the goals.
Betfred is offering odds of 8/1 for Lampard to score first and will double those odds on first scorer bets if he goes on the score a second, even trebling the odds should he score three.