Comebacks? Inter And Spurs Need Miracles!

Inter Milan's trip to Veltins Arena to face Schalke 04 on Wednesday seems almost futile, with Schalke having scored five away goals last week to Inter's two. Tuesday's Champions League action saw Barcelona beat Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 for a 6-1 aggregate score, while Manchester United beat Chelsea 3-1 for a 4-1 win over both legs. Real Madrid, meanwhile, has a 4-0 lead over Tottenham, making it seem as though it's almost silly to play the second leg of these matches.

But, of course, moments like Inter's visit to Schalke are made for moments of movie-esq drama, and if any side is prepared to create such clips it's Leonardo's. After all, the Nerazzurri came away from the first leg in the last round down a goal to Bayern Munich, and then were down 2-1 to the home side at halftime in the return fixture. But somehow Inter came back (somehow being through a Goran Pandez strike two minutes before time) to win 3-2 and get to where we are today. Of course, Inter only needed to overcome a 1-goal deficit, but that just makes this trip to Schalke all the more exciting. After all, this is a side that were down 1-0 to Genoa at halftime only to come back and win 5-2. In this instance, of course, they need to win by a clear four goals, but for a side that thrives on drama, it might not be unachievable.

Oh, who are we kidding? This is a match that will just see Schalke moving through to the semi-finals, where they will face Manchester United (not as easy as that, I guess). It will be a first for Die Knappen, who have previously only reached as far as the quarterfinals in the Champions League, although they did win the UEFA Cup in 1997. Although Schalke could easily advance by sitting back and defending their lead, it's clear that they've realized the defensive vulnerabilities of Inter, and likely feel no reason to play defensive football. After all, Inter could score three goals before it would even make Schalke nervous - why not go all out?

The Nerazzurri will be bolstered by the return of Lucio to the defensive lineup, although they'll have to do without Cristian Chivu, who earned himself a suspension in the first leg. Fullback Walter Samuel has finally recovered from knee surgery, after missing the majority of the season, although if he makes an appearance it will almost certainly be from the bench. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who missed the first leg with a knee injury, will remain sidelined. Schalke will also be missing Jefferson Farfan to suspension, with 17 year old Julian Draxler a possible replacement.

I'd like to say that it's interesting that three of the four Champions League quarter-finals were over after the first leg. But it's not. Tottenham Hotspur host Real Madrid in which would normally be a huge European night out, but thanks to Spurs trailing 4-0 on aggregate and Madrid being a much better side, this is a foregone conclusion. Madrid will be looking to progress to their semi-final against Barcelona with a minimum of fuss. Although both managers are claiming that Tottenham could still get into this tie, that's not happening ever, not even once in a million.

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