With no more English representatives in the Champions League, attention turns to the Europa League as three Premier League teams take to the field tonight hoping to progress to the quarter-finals.
English hopes for a European trophy this season now rest with Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Newcastle United.
Of the three, it’s Spurs who seem to have the greatest chance of progressing, as they meet Inter Milan with a comfortable 3-0 lead from the first-leg at White Hart Lane.
If the London club do have a cause for concern tonight it will be because they won’t be able to call on the services of their star man and one of Europe’s most in-form players – Gareth Bale.
The Welshman picked up a yellow card for diving in the home leg, meaning he will have to watch on from home tonight and hope his team can still pull through.
But even without Bale, Spurs can fancy their chances of a result on the night as Inter find themselves a disappointing 5th in Serie A, and the Italians will hardly be flowing with confidence prior to tonight’s game thanks to a shock 1-0 defeat at home to mid-table Bologna on Sunday.
Having secured a credible goalless draw in Moscow, Newcastle know that victory over Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala will see them into the last eight.
Though they haven’t earned themselves a first-leg advantage, the Magpies have every reason to be confident of a result as they are unbeaten at St James’ Park in this Europa League campaign.
However, if they are to progress they will have to do so without key players Tim Krul, Hatem Ben Arfa and captain Fabricio Coloccini who will all miss out through injury.
Like Spurs, Newcastle are up against a team who come into their second leg on the back of a weekend loss. Anzhi fell to a 2-0 away defeat on Sunday that allowed league-leaders CSKA Moscow to pull further clear.
If Chelsea are to appear in the quarter-finals, they will need to overturn the 1-0 loss they suffered in Romania.
The only English side to be trailing after the first leg of matches, anything less than a win will end Chelsea’s participation in Europe, and even that might not be enough as a Steaua Bucharest goal will leave the Londoners needing a two-goal victory to progress.
Demba Ba is unavailable for Europa League duty with Chelsea, having appeared for Newcastle earlier in the competition, so the stage is set for misfiring forward Fernando Torres to prove a point and help his side into the last eight.
Aside from Ba, Chelsea have almost no other players missing for tonight’s clash but do have a London derby with West Ham at the weekend, so once again all eyes will be on Rafael Benitez’s team selection and how he balances his side for two key fixtures.
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