Over the last two nights of Champions League football, Europe has proven once again that we possess the greatest teams on the planet. Every game of the UEFA tournaments quarter-finals was electric; from Borussia Dortmund's historic comeback on Tuesday night through to Bayern Munich's slaughtering of Juventus a day later.
But, despite the great theatre that both nights laid out, no English side had a part to play in the drama. Instead of competing in the greatest club tournament on the planet, our British clubs are battling it out in the 'mickey mouse cup' aka Europa League tonight.
Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham take up three places out of the remaining eight in the tournament. They will play their second leg ties and all of them go into the matches in very different circumstances- Chelsea lead comfortably, Newcastle trail by two goals but have scored a crucial away goal, and Tottenham conceded two goals at home in their first leg yet drew.
So what are the chances of seeing a British club in the semi-finals of the Europa League? Here's what we reckon...
Rubin Kazan v Chelsea
Chelsea will be looking to continue their march for a historic European double after comfortably seeing off the Russians in the first leg 3 - 1. Fernando Torres, who netted a brace a week ago, will start as Demba Ba is cup-tied for The Blues. Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole are sidelined due to injury, meaning there will be a start for John Terry and Paulo Ferreira. In his team selection, Rafa Benitez is expected to be catious as he looks ahead to the weekend's FA Cup clash against Manchester City. We expect Chelsea to see this one out and progress to semi-finals with little fuss. Saying that though, under Rafa they have been consistently inconsistent this term...
FC Basel v Tottenham
The tie is definitely swaying in the favour of Tottenham's Swiss oponents after the 2 - 2 draw at White Hart Lane last week. It will take the north Londoners something quite heroic to turn this one around- and they will need to do it without the injured Gareth Bale, William Gallas and Aaron Lennon. This current injury woe has inspired Andre Villas-Boas to name Emmanuel Adebayor as his side's key player. The Togo international has hit a sudden run of form in the last few games. You can not ignore the obvious, however, that Spurs face an uphill battle. FC Basel, as we saw in the first-leg, are a well organised side with attacking flair. We predict a late goal to decide it either way.
Newcastle v Benfica
Following last weeks first-leg Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew has called for his side to put on a performance that will "bring [him] to tears" (of joy, we summise). It will need something on that level if Newcastle are to fight back from their 3 - 1 defeat in Portugal. The odds are against the Geordies; the only team to beat Benfica by two clear goals this season have been Barcelona, and the Portuguese team have won their last eight fixtures. Two things Newcastle do have going for them is the away goal and Hatem Ben Arfa's return to fitness- although they are still missing Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini. We expect a brave performance from The Magpies, but fear the task may be too big to conquer.