Holders Liverpool are staring
down the barrel of a Champions League exit against Benfica and Real Madrid face
a similar fate at Arsenal on Wednesday.
Liverpool and Real need to overturn 1-0 deficits in their knockout round second
leg ties, as do PSV Eindhoven if they are to reach the quarter-finals at the
Stade Gerland against Olympique Lyon.
AC Milan can afford to sit back on their away goal after drawing 1-1 at Bayern
Munich, though expectations at San Siro will have grown with five consecutive
wins in Serie A and a hatful of goals from Filippo Inzaghi.
Liverpool's problem is that they need to find goals at a time of drought.
Rafael Benitez's men famously scored three in the second half of the 2005 final
against Milan but have only managed four in their last eight games. They have
not scored twice in any match since January and need to find the net at Anfield.
Benfica, who knocked out Liverpool's old rivals Manchester United in the group
stages, are likely to bide their time and wait for a chance to hit Benitez's men
on the break.
Real Madrid will be looking to impress their new club president Fernando Martin
Ronaldo is expected to lead the charge, supported by Zinedine Zidane and David
Beckham on the flanks, with Robinho available to add a further attacking threat
Bayern's Dutch striker Roy Makaay will be the main danger man for Milan, who
will be without their combative midfielder Gennaro Gattuso through suspension.
Though the odds are against them, Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn is already convinced
of the outcome. "I am absolutely certain we will qualify," he told reporters.
Lyon face a PSV side who have yet to score an away goal in the Champions League
but who need to score at least twice to go through without resorting to a
penalty shoot out.
Like Real with Ronaldo, Julio Baptista and Robinho, Lyon will look to Brazilians
for inspiration in striker Fred and attacking midfielder Juninho, their
predatory and brilliant free kick taker.