Champions' League quarter-finals: United happy to slip under the radar as hope springs eternal

If Arsenal's double-header with Liverpool in the Champions' League quarter-final has dominated the headlines and bulletins so far, Manchester United and Chelsea will be perfectly happy with that. After being beaten in the season's two other cup competitions by Tottenham and Barnsley, and demanding more respect from the media, Chelsea's Avram Grant would like nothing more than a period out of the spotlight, and he must be delighted to have drawn the rank outsiders Fenerbahce.

Not that he is allowed to say so. Nor would Sir Alex Ferguson be drawn into any whoops of pleasure, confining himself to surprise at facing a sixth match against AS Roma within a year. For United, however, there has been nothing in the previous four to bring the sort of fear that some of their supporters experienced in being confronted by the more thuggish of the Italian club's ultras in the Eternal City.

Hope springs eternal for United, even after disappointment in the competition every year bar the one that is now almost a decade in the past. Beggars cannot be choosers at this level, but there have been seasons in which a third European Cup would have been particularly appropriate; notably in 2002, when defeat by the unfancied Bayer Leverkusen cost Ferguson an emotional Glasgow final; and the following year, when the venue for the final was Old Trafford but Real Madrid saw off United. So to the 50th anniversary season of the Munich air disaster, with romantics outside London and Merseyside hoping this might be the time.

Once again, Roma are second to Internazionale in Serie A, without much hope of catching them, so unless Inter collapse in the wake of two defeats by Liverpool, the one advantage United's opponents will have is a clearer focus. Roma faced Ferguson's side earlier in the season, when United were struggling to score. Bizarrely, the 1-0 victory over Roma at Old Trafford in October was United's sixth by that margin in seven first-team games. "It's a disease, I'm trying to get a vaccine for it," Ferguson smiled at the time, adding: "The goals will come."

Even the manager may have been surprised how quickly and comprehensively his confidence was justified, with 22 goals in the next five games. Wayne Rooney, who only got off the mark for the season in the Roma match, was suddenly in full flow and Cristiano Ronaldo, also making a slow start, has since found the net with the regularity of a star centre-forward.

"Thirty goals from a winger, that's unbelievable," his team-mate Rio Ferdinand said in the wake of the one that beat Lyon in the last Champions' League game. "Not since John Barnes at Liverpool in his heyday has any winger got near that amount." Barnes never matched it and, because of Liverpool's European ban, never came close to European Cup success. Ronaldo and United are on the scent again.

Match-by-match guide, by Steve Tongue

Arsenal v Liverpool (2, 8 April) Statistics and style suggest that this ought to be an improvement on the grim Chelsea-Liverpool ties. Even if Arsène Wenger's men are smothered at home by the Rafael Benitez blanket, they will remember Milan and remain confident.

F enerbahce v Chelsea (2, 8 April) Chelsea's 5-0 win away to Galatasaray in 1999 was a rare comfortable trip to Turkey for any British club. They cannot expect a repeat and should be happy with an away goal and a draw from the first leg.

Roma v Manchester Utd (1, 9 April) Only one win in the past year's four meetings for Roma, which was 2-1 at home after Paul Scholes had been sent off. This season's group games (0-1 and 1-1) were tighter. But take United to progress.

Schalke v Barcelona (1, 9 April) The bookmakers' decision to drop Barcelona to second favourites comes after a lapse or two in the Spanish league, but they should see off the Germans, who were fortunate to squeeze past Porto on penalties.

Latest odds (supplied by William Hill) 3-1 Manchester Utd, 100-30 Barcelona, 7-2 Chelsea, 5-1 Arsenal, 7-1 Liverpool, 14-1 Roma, 33-1 Schalke, 40-1 Fenerbahce.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal