UCL 2010-11: Assessing The 8 Quarterfinalists

There are now eight teams remaining in the hunt for the most prestigious trophy in European club competition. The 2010-11 UEFA Champions League final will be played at Wembley Stadium, England. Defending title-holders Inter Milan were lucky enough to make it through to the quarters via the away goals rule over last year's runners-up, Bayern Munich. The trophy could go to Spain or England, with heavyweights like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea in the fold. Germany has a chance to surprise with FC Schalke 04, while the unlikeliest of countries, the Ukraine, are pinning their hopes on Shakhtar Donetsk to pull off another upset.

Lets take a look at each of the eight quarterfinalists and their chances of moving on to the semifinals as the road to Wembley continues.

FC BARCELONA

Manager: Josep Guardiola
Group: D
Group Record: 4-2-0 (14 points)
Group Finish: First
Round of 16: Defeated Arsenal FC 4-3 on aggregate (1-2, 3-1)
Quarterfinal Opponent: FC Shakhtar Donetsk

Pep Guardiola can't believe his luck. While Shakhtar Donetsk have been on the rise in the UEFA Champions League, it looks to be a straightforward affair for FC Barcelona, who should advance to the semifinals on the foot of Lionel Messi. The Argentinean leads the competition with eight goals, along with Inter Milan's Samuel Eto'o. Messi, Adriano, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa should have no problems dismantling Shakhtar, who are a breath of fresh air from having to deal with a feisty Arsenal side in the Round of 16.

CHELSEA FC

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Group: F
Group Record: 5-0-1 (15 points)
Group Finish: First
Round of 16: Defeated FC Copenhagen 2-0 on aggregate (2-0, 0-0)
Quarterfinal Opponent: Manchester United FC

Carlo Ancelotti may be getting his walking papers after Chelsea come on the losing end of a no-win situation against Manchester United in the quarterfinals, especially after failing to impress in their 2-0 victory over Copenhagen on aggregate. Nicolas Anelka leads the team in Champions League goals with seven, but he can't do it alone. If the likes of Dider Drogba and Frank Lampard are unable to spread the ball around and John Terry is unable to get his defense to stifle a Red Devil side also keen on making its options available, Petr Cech could be picking the ball out of his net a few times, and Roman Abramovich may be on the lookout for a new manager soon.

FC INTERNAZIONALE MILANO

Manager: Leonardo Araujo
Group: A
Group Record: 3-1-2 (10 points)
Group Finish: Second
Round of 16: Defeated FC Bayern Munich 3-3 on aggregate via away goals rule (0-1, 3-2)
Quarterfinal Opponent: FC Schalke 04

The defending champions were lucky enough to advance to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League via the away goals rule. They could be on their way to conquering Germany, but not without a fight from Schalke. Samuel Eto'o is Inter's main scorer and provider, with eight goals and four assists to his credit. He can bury his chances, and if he wants an option, he can find it in Wesley Sneijder, who has three goals to his name. Goran Pandev also adds another dimension to the attack, having recorded three assists this year. But this is all on Eto'o. If he has space and gets open in their attacking third, look for his foot to help send Inter through to the semis.

MANCHESTER UNITED FC

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
Group: C
Group Record: 4-2-0 (14 points)
Group Finish: First
Round of 16: Defeated Olympique de Marseille 2-1 on aggregate (0-0, 2-1)
Quarterfinal Opponent: Chelsea FC

Manchester United are looking for a little retribution after their 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in Premier League action, and Gary Lineker gave them the perfect opportunity to get it: in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. Javier Hernandez is the Red Devils' main scorer, with three goals to his name, but the club has other capable weapons in Nani, Anderson, Darren Fletcher and the ever-reliable Wayne Rooney. Manchester United also possesses one of the most consistent defenses in the competition, having allowed just two goals in their eight contests. Watch for Sir Alex to encourage his players to exert the same tenacity that brought them to this stage. They should be through to the semis.

REAL MADRID CF

Manager: Jose Mourinho
Group: G
Group Record: 5-1-0 (16 points)
Group Finish: First
Round of 16: Defeated Olympique Lyonnais 4-1 on aggregate (1-1, 3-0)
Quarterfinal Opponent: Tottenham Hotspur FC

Lady luck should be smiling on Los Blancos, as they get to take on one of the new boys to the UEFA Champions League in Tottenham Hotspur. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo have shouldered most of the production for Real Madrid, contributing six and four goals, respectively. It will be up to the Spurs back line to stop this tandem from inflicting heavy damage early and often. Also key to Real's chances is the play of Mesut Ozil (four assists) and Angel Di Maria (two assists), whose playmaking ability has helped make Real a scoring machine throughout the course of the competition. All in all, Real Madrid are expected to be on their way.

FC SCHALKE 04

Manager: Ralf Rangnick
Group: B
Group Record: 4-1-1 (13 points)
Group Finish: First
Round of 16: Defeated Valencia CF 4-2 on aggregate (1-1, 3-1)
Quarterfinal Opponent: FC Internationale Milano

Not even the return of Ralk Rangnick can save Schalke 04, who could be on their way out of the UEFA Champions League at the hands of the defending cup holders, Inter Milan, in the quarterfinals. Jefferson Farfan and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar need to increase their production against an Inter side that hasn't seemed to miss a beat from last season's campaign. Farfan has four goals to his credit, while Huntelaar has three. Ivan Rakitic and Peer Kluge will need to pull a rabbit out of the hat to stop Inter Milan. While they both have two assists to their credit this competition, it is not enough, and they need to get the ball to Farfan and Huntelaar quick, or Germany's road to Wembley ends at the hands of the same team that slayed fellow Bundesliga side/2009-10 UEFA Champions League finalist Bayern Munich.

FC SHAKTAR DONETSK

Manager: Mircea Lucescu
Group: H
Group Record: 5-0-1 (15 points)
Group Finish: First
Round of 16: Defeated AS Roma 6-2 on aggregate (3-2, 3-0)
Quarterfinal Opponent: FC Barcelona

Shakhtar Donetsk have been on a roll, in spite of a glaring 5-1 defeat to Arsenal in the Group Stage. Eduardo, Darijo Srna, Douglas Costa and Luis Adriano form the nucleus of Shakhtar's vaunted attack. Eduardo and Luis Adriano have four goals to their credit. Srna is the team's main provider with four assists, while Costa has recorded three. However, despite their breakthrough campaign this season in the UEFA Champions League, they will realize that FC Barcelona is no AS Roma. No question, Shakhtar is going to put up a spirited fight, but they could be on their way out of the UEFA Champions League.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC

Manager: Harry Redknapp
Group: H
Group Record: 3-2-1 (11 points)
Group Finish: First
Round of 16: Defeated AC Milan 1-0 on aggregate (1-0, 0-0)
Quarterfinal Opponent: Real Madrid CF

Tottenham Hotspur have been chugging along in their maiden campaign. They had to deal with going through a playoff against a feisty Young Boys Bern side before taking part in the Group Stage. Spurs have a trio of capable scorers in Gareth Bale (four goals), Peter Crouch (four goals, three assists) and Roman Pavlyuchenko (three goals), with Aaron Lennon (five assists) and Crouch pulling the strings in the midfield. Tottenham, however, have their work cut out for them in the form of a Real Madrid side looking to hoist the cup at Wembley. Crouch will need to get involved in delivering the ball to Bale and Pavlyuchenko, while finishing his own chances. If he fails to do that, the maiden campaign for the Spurs, which has exceeded their expectations thus far, could end here.

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