Spanish teams trust in home advantage for quarterfinal spots
Three Spanish teams could qualify this week for the European Champions League quarterfinals for the first time since the 2002-03 season.4 March 2008
MADRID - Three Spanish teams could qualify this week for the European Champions League quarterfinals for the first time since the 2002-03 season, although a tight Roma defence could thwart such an outcome. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla all still harbour realistic ambitions of advancing as they go into the second leg of the last-16 round.
However, while Barcelona defends a 3-2 lead from the first leg, playing at home against a modest Celtic tonight, Real Madrid and Sevilla must overturn deficits from their free-scoring away games. Sevilla plays Fenerbahçe at home tonight and the Turkish side's 3-2 lead from the first leg may look extremely slender once the game kicks off in the Sánchez Pizjuán stadium in Seville.
Real lost 2-1 away to Roma in the first leg, despite having dominated during long spells. The recent return of striker Robinho could provide a crucial boost to the Liga leader as it attempts to crack open the Italian defence for the 1-0 win it needs tomorrow.
Valencia may be out of the Champions League and languishing mid-table in the Liga, but it is still hogging the headlines. Yesterday a judge threw out the case brought by the team's midfielder David Albelda, who was suing the club for EUR 60 million as compensation for the termination of his contract. Albelda claimed he had been unjustly sidelined from the team by Valencia President Juan Soler.
But there was also less welcome news for Valencia yesterday, when it emerged that new signing Ever Banega had failed a roadside alcohol test. The 19-year-old was signed from Boca Juniors in January for around EUR 18 million.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / Georgina Higueras 2008]