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Barcelona and Man Utd expect to ease through

Latest update : 2008-04-09

The Champions League semi-finals could well host a third English team if Manchester United qualify after their second leg against AS Roma. Also expected to qualify are Spain's FC Barcelona, who won against Shalke O4 last week.

Manchester United and Barcelona are favourites to see off AS Roma and Schalke 04 on Wednesday and set up a mouth-watering Champions League semi-final.

United hold a comfortable 2-0 lead over Roma, who will be without talismanic striker Francesco Totti, in their quarter-final while Barca are 1-0 up against Schalke after last week's first leg in Gelsenkirchen.

If the two teams manage to preserve their advantage they will join Liverpool and Chelsea in the last four of Europe's elite club competition.

Roma have a mountain to climb against a United side who have not lost at home in Europe for three years and who demolished the Italians 7-1 at Old Trafford at the same stage last season.

But United manager Alex Ferguson refused to accept that the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

"We have some leeway but we are not taking anything for granted and, therefore, we look on this match as the most important thing of the season for us," he said on Tuesday.

"We have got one foot in the semi-final. To get two feet in, the best way is to approach the game in a proper fashion and go and win it."

Barcelona are also strongly fancied to make it through to the semi-finals, but their recent league form and Schalke's second-half performance in the first leg has given the Germans hope that they can overturn the Catalans at the Nou Camp.

Barca have won just one of their last six Primera Liga matches and although they took an early lead in the first leg, Schalke laid siege to their area in the closing minutes and were unlucky not to come away with a draw.

"In the first half we didn't play and weren't quite sure how to approach the game," said Schalke striker Halil Altintop.

"But we reacted well in the second half and could have scored and that makes us optimistic about our chances in this game."

The semi-finals will be played on April 22/23 and 29/30 with the final in Moscow on May 21.

Date created : 2008-04-09

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