Barcelona v Chelsea, 19:45
In his press conference yesterday evening Roberto di Matteo made a sincere promise to be positive and attacking in his efforts to guide his team into the Champions League final, but I’m pretty certain the man who penned those words also had a hand in composing Ryan Giggs’ wedding vows and that bit in Titanic where she says “I’ll never let you go” before the other one drowns. Chelsea know exactly what they have to do in this match, which is defend manfully and be alert to any potential opportunity that may come their way, but committing to an open match is not part of the plan.
Didier Drogba has travelled after he missed Saturday’s Premier League draw at Arsenal, most likely with an injury sustained in throwing himself to the floor in the first leg. Barcelona’s Gerard Pique hopes to be fit after missing the first leg and the 2-1 home league defeat by Real Madrid, as does Cesc Fabregas. Victor Chandler have 11/1 on a 2-1 home win, putting Chelsea through, but I’m sure all the clever money is backing Barca.
Aston Villa v Bolton, 19:45
This is a match with two teams equally motivated by events in football and away from it. Bolton have the Lazarus-like tale of Fabrice Muamba to inspire them, whilst Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov was recently diagnosed with acute leukaemia. There are problems on the pitch too, more so for the away side, but neither of these two are safe from relegation. Bolton are playing a game in hand that, if won, will take them to the brink of escaping the relegation zone, and no further, whilst Villa need one win to breathe easy and make plans for next term.
Aston Villa’s James Collins is doubtful, but Alex McLeish is hopeful that Gabby Agbonlahor will overcome a shoulder problem, while Ciaran Clark could return. Bolton have injury concerns over Mark Davies and Darren Pratley. Davies limped off at the end of Saturday’s draw with Swansea, while Pratley missed the game with a virus. William Hill have 14/1 on a 2-2 draw, which wouldn’t be good for Bolton at all.