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Champions League Semis Live on Ten Sports
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MUMBAI: Barcelona are hoping to dash all hopes of a second consecutive all-English UEFA Champions League Final, as Europe’s premier club competition enters the home stretch. They take on Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea at London, in the 2nd leg of the second semi-final on Wednesday, the 6th of May. However, all eyes will first be on the mouth-watering return leg of the first semi-final between Arsenal and Manchester United, which kicks off in London on the 5th of May.

Both matches will be Live and exclusive on TEN Sports, the most widely-watched channel in the subcontinent, with coverage beginning at 23:30.

The good news for Manchester United ahead of their tie at the Emirates Stadium was that key defender Rio Ferdinand returned to training. He had been coughing blood after damaging his ribs and bruised a lung at Old Trafford last week, and was unlikely to be fit before this encounter. United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side goes in with a slender one-nil advantage from the first leg, had earlier sounded a warning to Arsenal that they wouldn’t be able to stop the Red Devils from scoring again.


No wonder then, that Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger called on his team to focus hard on this game, though they must enjoy taking on the holders as well. Wenger is optimistic, though, for Arsenal are unbeaten in 24 Champions League matches at home – a five-year run – and have lost just once in United's last ten visits overall. Moreover, they haven’t as much as conceded a goal at home during this campaign, drawing only with Fenerbahce in Group G.

United, on the other hand, haven’t been as great when travelling. They drew at Villarreal and Celtic before brushing aside Aalborg 3-0. They then failed to find the net against Inter at the San Siro, and had to rely on Cristiano Ronaldo’s genius to send them through at the expense of Porto. That said, their away record is still impressive – they haven’t lost an away-game in 11 since their loss to Milan in 2007.

Arsenal and United were both involved in Premier League action over the weekend, with the Gunners winning 3-0 at Portsmouth and United overcoming Middlesbrough 2-0. So, full of confidence and looking in good form, the two rivals look set to put on a real show during what promises to be an epic encounter on Tuesday night.

In the other semi-final, Chelsea host Barcelona at Stamford Bridge with the scoreline blank following a goalless first leg at the Nou Camp. Hiddink played a 4-4-2 system in an entertaining 3-1 Premier League victory over Fulham at the weekend, pairing Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba up front to great effect. "If we want to play a little bit for ourselves when we are not fully concentrated, then we give away chances, like we did against Fulham, but, if we do that on a higher level, we will be exposed and punished," Hiddink said. With Barcelona missing central defenders Carles Puyol and Rafael Marquez, the Dutchman could fight fire with fire on Tuesday but he is more likely to beef up his midfield and leave Anelka on the bench.

Barcelona, meanwhile, were devastating against Real Madrid as they closed in on the Spanish title, ripping their bitter rivals to shreds. "We are going to Chelsea to win, to attack and to qualify for the final in Rome -- Chelsea know that," said their upbeat coach Pep Guardiola. That after former Real star Emilio Butragueno described the current Barca side as their best ever, better than even Johan Cruyff’s dream team of the ‘90s.

Chelsea knocked Barca out at the round of 16 stage in 2005, but were eliminated by the Catalans in 2000 and 2006. So, with all the portents of a needle clash, this is one encounter you wouldn’t like to miss
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